Gio Lester



by on Friday, September 21, 2012




Recording, Consent and Copyrights: What We Need To Know

- by Gio Lester

During a conference assignment, not too long ago, I was confronted with a very uncomfortable situation. Unbeknownst to the team of interpreters, the company that had hired us made arrangements for recording our work. Fortunately, it was not our first time in those waters, and we knew how to tread them.

But I remember the first time I found myself in that situation. It was over 20 years ago, here in theAt work US, and I could not understand why my colleagues were so upset. Well, I got an ear-full and learned a valuable lesson. I am bringing that up for up because many novices are unaware of the important groundwork already laid for them with regard to professional standards and copyrights.

So, let’s get straight to the point: Why isn’t it okay for the company that hired you to record your voice? Well, a few things happen to the sound of your voice on its way to the CD.

ASTM InternationalAccording to the ASTM International* guidelines (F-2089-01, section 10.13, page 7), “Any recording of the interpretation changes the very nature of the interaction by adding on a future, and perhaps different, use of the interpreter’s product.”  The bit about “adding a future” surprised me a little. I was at first concerned with misspoken numbers and the like, then that phrase caught my attention to the purpose of the recording, possible future uses, etc. This reminded me of the Henrietta Lacks who had her cancer cells (HeLa cells) collected, used for research, distributed and commercialized all over the world without her consent or knowledge or financial benefit.

But I still was not sure of what my rights were or where they stemmed from. Researching the AIIC (Association Internationale des Interprétes de Conférence) website I found the full explanation. Knowledge really is a powerful weapon. In the interpreters’ case, when a recording is involved, the key words are “consent” and “copyright.”

Most times, the person working directly with the interpreters at the event is not aware that recording our voices is a violation of our rights, and they simply think they are keeping their customer happy without any further consequences.

Through AIIC I learned that “The performance of conference interpreting is protected by international law.” And the Berne Convention stipulates that when committed to fixed media of any nature the performance of the conference interpreter becomes a translation and its author has exclusive rights. The protection of the author’s copyrights is the main purpose of those rules.

Does that mean recording and/or transcription of our work is forbidden? No. Both ASTM and AIIC are clear on that point — here enters the second key word, consent. ASTM (F-2089-01, 10.13, page 7) states “When commercial use of any recording is contemplated, questions of intellectual property rights may be involved… all parties involved should be consulted beforehand when a recording of a meeting is being considered.”  Furthermore, AIIC’s standard contract has language that addresses the issue by stating that the interpretation is provided “…solely for direct and immediate use by the listeners; no recording may be made, either by the listeners or anyone else, without the prior consent of the interpreters concerned.

So we go back to the HeLa cells case discussed above in which consent and knowledge were missing. ASTM International and AIIC are working to prevent third parties from benefiting – financially or otherwise– from the work of interpreters without their consent or knowledge.

Once all parties involved in a contract are aware that recording will take place, special accommodations can be made to ensure that it is all done properly – from the speaker’s speed, terminology research, type of equipment used, to the languages used (I have had presenters insist on speaking “Portuñol” – a Portuguese/Spanish hybrid – and my colleagues in the Spanish speaking booth walked out). There is also an added fee owed the interpreters for the transfer of copyrights to the client.

How did my recent assignment end up with regard to the translation? I sent all the reference material I mention above to the agency that hired me and we renegotiated my fee.

Knowledge is power.


References:

*ASTM International is the former American Society for Testing and Materials.

1. Publication ASTM F-2089-01 – 10.13; pg 7 –

10.13  Recording of the Interpretation—Any recording of the interpretation changes the very nature of the interaction by adding on a future, and perhaps different, use of the interpreter’s product. When commercial use of any recording is contemplated, questions of intellectual property rights may be involved. For all of these reasons, all parties involved should be consulted beforehand when a recording of a meeting is being considered.

2. AIIC:


COMMENTS

  1. Ana Helena Lopes
    September 22, 2012 at 12:26 pm

    Very good information Gio!
    Nothing like having the right sources to refer to when it comes to negotiate interpreting fees.
    Last year I worked in a conference and at the very last day the organizers came with a recording consent form for us to sign it. We couldn’t believe it. My partner and I agreed to sign it, however we did not receive the extra charge that we are entitled to.
    I have been recently hired for another conference with the same client in October. It’s been through a different agency and before I sent my rates I clearly explained to the recruiter what had happened last year regarding recording our interpretation. I already received the PO with no extra recording charge stipulated on it. I am sure that the first thing I will do when I arrive to the conference site is double check on that and have all these referral materials on hand. Thanks for sharing it.

  2. Gio Lester
    Gio Lester
    September 22, 2012 at 7:14 pm

    Good luck negotiating your rights. I love AIIC’s language restricting the use of the interpreted material.

  3. Jennifer De La Cruz
    Jennifer De La Cruz
    October 2, 2012 at 11:53 pm

    This is such an amazing piece to post here for people in just this situation! Good information to have available!

    • Gio Lester
      Gio Lester
      October 3, 2012 at 7:29 am

      Thanks, Jennifer. When I had needed it and could not find it in one place. I thought others might need it too.

  4. Maha El-Metwally
    October 10, 2012 at 3:51 am

    Hello Gio,

    Thank you for a very useful article. What would you do if you discover at the end of the conference that there has been a webstreaming of the interpreting?

    • Gio Lester
      Gio Lester
      October 15, 2012 at 5:56 pm

      Maha, I can only speak about it on a personal level. I would approach the client with the information above (AIIC and ASTM standards) and inform the client he was in breach of our agreement and liable for the extra fees due the interpreters. But, I’d do so in writing, with proof of the webstreaming attached – name of who disclosed it and a singed statement (if possible), or download it (had to be from their website or a site maintained by them to establish a link) and attach the recording/file to the message. The main problem here is I see very little in terms of protection to us, the professionals. How are these rules/guidelines/standards to be enforced? What are the liabilities to the transgressors? I am not familiar with any.

  5. Gio Lester
    Gio Lester
    October 15, 2012 at 6:01 pm

    Maha, I another thing: webstreaming is not the same as recording. As long as there is nothing extra requested of you and no recording is being made, I do not see the issue. I have participated in a conference during which a session was being webcast to Brazil and we held an engaging 30-minute Q&A.Getting that instant feedback from the questions and answers was very rewarding.

    Again, this is my personal position. When those standards and guidelines were created I do not think webstreaming was yet a reality. Growth can be challenging in every level.

Leave a Reply

*