September 14, 2011

Copyright and the right to translate
No offense, but it came with the onset of Dzongkha newspapers. Every time I read them I feel uncomfortable. There are news from the America and Europe in our national language. But if you read them closely, they are translated either from CNN or BBC or NDTV website. Well, I see no problem in translating these news stories in Dzongkha to inform our people in the language that they can read.

However, one thing that disturbs me is how our translators take credit of writing the news stories themselves when they have just translated from the above sources. Their names are always mentioned at the end of the story. The trend is only in some of our new Dzongkha papers. I don’t know if this at all legally correct. 

Maybe the translators don't know that this is not allowed. If that is so our authorities needs to clarify them. We should not take it for granted that these sources can’t read Dzongkha. That’s not an excuse.  


  1. On the subject of news, legally nobody is entitled to hold copy right, no matter, CNN or Bhutan times. So when nobody has copy right on subject of news, even if the news are lifted directly from other Papers without going to the spot for collection, still the paper which has lifted won’t be liable for infringement of copy right . No matter lifted in same language or translated.
    . For instance, there was accident or some program going on. Bhutan Times went to the spot and collected the news and published. Bhutan Observer did not go to the spot for collection but lifted directly from Bhutan Times without even informing and published. In this case, Bhutan observer won’t be liable because Bhutan Times does not have right to hold copy right on subject of news. Every legal right has remedy but without right there is no remedy.. Bhutan times cannot seek remedy on the subject which it does not have right.
    Coming to about translating in Dzongkha, legally speaking they are not violating law because nobody has copy right on subject of news. Though legally they are not bond to get permission from CCN OR BBC, but I feel , at least for authentication purpose they should refer the authority from where they have lifted……..
    For translation of book, it is different. If anybody translates without permission then this will amount to infringement of author’s copy right because author will have copy right unlike news ……
    I’m giving just an overview there may be many other laws and exceptions…..

  2. Well, first of all thank you for your comment and appreciated it so much. I agree with you when you say that no one has the copyright over the news. How true! You are right absolutely. But that's not it - what I am talking about is translating exactly word for word, what someone has written elsewhere. That I that is legally incorrect. If I am a reporter, if someone translates my story word for word and then claims as his own by writing his name underneath, then I won't allow that to happen. Well, if reworded and collected from different sources and acknowledged, then I think it is okay for as you say news isn't copyrighted.

  3. Seems I got you wrongly brother, sorry for commenting wrongly .Thanks for putting me on right track.
    You are right translating word for word without author’s permission is legally not permissible. Right to translation is exclusive right of author. Even if author has permitted to translate also, others cannot write their name underneath after translation…right to authorship retains with author only.. As you have mentioned, authorities need to clarify them , if they are really into this………….good night!!

  4. It is alright Chimi. Thanks for reading. Appreciated.


So what do you think?