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Intellectual Property and Fiscal aspects of translation

Posted 4/5/2014

Dear colleagues,

This post is written with the aim of spreading information more than suggesting a brainstorming on a new topic. I advise everyone to check for their own Countries, but what I want to highlight here is the peculiar nature of our work when it comes to creating content, conveying messages in a creative way or working on texts, which need to undergo cultural adaptation.

Most of our work implies a personal and a unique contribution; two translators working on the same source text would in fact deliver quite different outputs. Everyone puts a bit of himself/herself in what he/she does.

This is of course not true in special cases as, for example, in the case of the translation of software strings: those have to follow certain strict rules, given glossaries and cannot be adapted following the translator’s style. This also does not apply to the translation of official documents (such as those for the EU institutions, for public offices, etc.), given the fact that those have to be very precise, may not be interpreted or twisted in any way, or this would lead to serious consequences, up to and including money loss and the enforcement of legal measures.

On the other hand, this is always true in some other cases, such as for the translation of books, theatre plays, video games, marketing material, websites (where these do not describe technical articles), and also for the creation of content through copywriting.

Those works contain intellectual property, the use of which is in most cases protected by law and can entitle the creators to both rights on the texts they have created and to tax breaks, which are dealt with differently in every Country as far as concerns fiscal liability.

For the Italian translators, I suggest they have a look at the website of STRADE (the trade union representing the rights of translators working for the publishing industry) where they will find out to what kind of tax breaks they are entitled, depending on their age and on the nature of their work. The union also publishes a guide explaining in detail how the Italian regulation works and how to recognize and invoice work subject to intellectual property right regulations, as not everything we translate can be classified accordingly, and it’s important to understand and know what has to be processed differently and how.

You will find some tables which classify the different kinds of work to which the LDA (Legge sul diritto d'autore) applies as well as concrete examples with texts and how to invoice the translation of those texts. The privileges concern the amount of the income, which can be actually considered for taxation and the exemption from contribution to the national pension fund.

The same goes with artists’ pension funds and health insurance fees in Germany, for example.

Maybe your Country foresees similar measures too and finding out about this by asking the competent authorities can actually relieve you of some useless burdens and help you to protect the result of your work from misuse.

Enjoy your work!