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TM sharing makes "TM ownership" moot?

TM sharing makes TM ownership mute?Our recent article on TM ownerships generated tons of discussion on LinkedIn. Take a look at the original article here and the LinkedIn discussion here. The baseline question "is TM ownership clear" can be answered with a resounding "no".

There are lots of great - and greatly divergent - comments in the discussion. If you have time, take a look.

One of the folks who took the time to write to a detailed response and has a unique perspective is Jaap Van Der Meer of TAUS. Jaap has been around the translation industry for a while so when he speaks, it pays to listen.

Here is Jaap's comment for those who missed it on LinkedIn:

This discussion and the level of interest illustrate that the industry is looking for new answers to the question of the value and ownership of TMs. That's what you would expect now that TMs are shared all the time.

"Cloud-sharing" of TMs becomes very popular among very large companies and small companies. Sometimes you may be asked - as a client, as a translator or as an agency - whether you agree that 'your' TMs are being shared. But in most cases the sharing and aggregation of TMs is happening without you even knowing it.

The value of this large-scale sharing of TMs is not the traditional benefit of translation memory leveraging, that is retrieving a match for a sentence. We need to start looking at TMs as data. The more TMs (data) you collect the more meaningful they become. You can extract terminology and instead of matching a sentence, you will be able to match phrases and strings of text. Companies use these TM data to improve the performance of MT engines; not just large companies such as Google, IBM and Microsoft, but also small and large language service providers.

As many of you know, we started addressing the opportunities and challenges of sharing TMs already in 2008 when we established the TAUS Data Association (TDA). An interesting statement came up in all these discussions among founding members that I like to share here: "Only by sharing your TMs, you increase the value of your TMs."
Words belong to all of us (speaking the language). Trying to hold on to these words and keeping them to yourself will, on the long run, prove to be an unsuccessful strategy. Not only is this practically almost impossible, it also puts you at a loss.

Now, clearly we must make an exception here for creative texts (sales slogans, tag lines, poetry, song texts, etcetera), trademarks and confidential and personal information. You cannot share these words just like that. The problem though is that it is very had to define the rules. Copyright law needs to catch up with the times. Whether you can share or not share 'your' TMs becomes increasingly a personal moral decision and most of the time this decision is actually taken without you even knowing about it.

It is no secret of course that I am a great advocate of sharing of TMs. The translation industry needs to multiply its capacity and grow its capabilities. Sharing translation data is crucial to the innovation and growth of our industry. Together with its founding members TDA has set up a solid legal framework for sharing TMs. As one of the members said: "TDA is the safest place to share your TMs."
It's an interesting perspective: sharing is happening anyway and is legal (see that point made by TM Marketplace here [PDF link]), so why worry about who owns what?

Do you agree? Disagree? Have a different take on TM sharing?

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5 Comments:

  1. Anonymous said...
    Please check your homonyms. Word should be moot.
    George Stamoulacatos said...
    Who ultimately would control the quality of these 'shared' TMs? Sounds like a TM (Wiki) and hope that the community would drive quality?
    Andres Heuberger said...
    Thank you for not being mute on the subject :)
    Anonymous said...
    The problem is that TM sharing is useful for translators and agencies, but should not be used to disposses translators of their work.
    The fact that agencies reuse subcontractors' work, without offering any compensation (only lower and lower fees) looks like plagiarism for me.
    Anonymous said...
    1.When you pay for a translation, you own the translation. A TM, however, is a database.

    2. A database qualifies for protection in its own right under these regulations - irrespective of whether it benefits from protection under copyright - if there has been a "substantial investment" in obtaining, verifying or presenting the contents of the database. Any contractual provision making an EU domiciled person sign away the right to their TM is null and void under the law.

    Here's the online copyright guide concerning the database law in the UK:
    http://www.out-law.com/page-5698

    And the Directive:
    http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=CELEX:31996L0009:EN:HTML

    There's a lengthy discussion of the question on LinkedIn in the Localization Professional Group that's worth reading (especially towards the end). It shows how some (prominent, too) individuals in this business are content to be completely uninformed yet they boldly offer their personal opinions as general truths. If there is a chance that they are not uninformed, one should ask for whom do they speak?

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