Knowing the legislation


First of all you need to know how the law works in your country. Many translators’ associations form part of a larger organisation – for example an authors society, a larger organisation of translators and interpreters or a labour union, and these larger bodies will frequently have legal teams or other specialists that tend to deal with these issues. However, we cannot stress enough how important it is for literary translators themselves to get to know the legislation, rather than simply leaving it all to the specialists. Remember, literary translators are the only ones who care about the situation of literary translators. Often our thorough knowledge of a situation and our experiences are exactly what is needed to detect both the risks and the loopholes of a proposed piece of legislation, a budget cut etc.

Different countries have different legal systems, and you’re going to need to find your way around them. Here are some things you might look into, depending on what you want to achieve or what your challenges are:

  • Is there any specific legislation pertaining to organisations, NGOs, not-for-profit organisations, labour unions etc., that you could take advantage of? Anything that you need to know?
  • What is your national copyright law? Has your country adopted the EU directive on the Digital Single Market or is it in the process of doing so? Are your contracts in keeping with the law?
  • Does your country have a special contract law?
  • What are your anti-trust laws?
  • What are the tax and social security regulations pertaining to freelancers/self-employed?
  • How about the fiscal process – what is the process for adopting the annual national/government budget?
  • Does your country have a law on culture?
  • a library law?
  • a PLR scheme?
  • What are your government’s strategies concerning your national language(s), education, culture, literature, art and the artists’ economy?
  • Are there any white papers on culture, copyright etc. in the pipeline?

Locate the legislation relevant to your specific cause. READ it. Have seminars on it. Read it out loud to each other.

Always read the copyright law. Read it. And then read it again.