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Fan Based Subtitle Translation Closed: Overreach by Hollywood?


The BBC reported on the police raid and closure of Swedish subtitle translation website Undertexter.

Translation dejavu

Undertexter facilitates “fan-made translations of film and TV show dialogue, which could be merged with video files to provide on-screen text.” And, much like other similar sites, it claims it’s not out to make money. On first read, this appears to be a case of overreach by Hollywood (lawyers), akin to the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) suing a 12 year old upwards of 150,000 dollars for downloading music.

Translation of film and TV show dialogue for personal use and understanding hardly constitutes the infringement of property rights. However, merging unauthorized dialogue translation with video files changes the equation. Drawing on an analogy, it’s kind of like giving a rented car a paint job in the backyard.

So, regardless of what you may think of Hollywood, this subtitle translation process appropriates somebody’s (intellectual) property and alters it to suit their own purposes. Further, the translation, not being subject to a rigorous process oriented to quality by trained translation professionals, almost certainly will impact future sales.

What you do think? Weigh in with a comment below.



About the Author
Ivan Vandermerwe is the CEO of SAECULII YK, the owner of Japan, Tokyo based Certified Translation Services Japanese to English Visit SAECULII for the latest professional case studies, articles and news on Japanese Translation Services

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