NYBC digitization of Yizkor Books #general
Gene and Ellen Sucov <genellen@...>
The above announcement has generated a certain amount of concern that
work which we, as volunteers have done out of love, will be exploited by
NYBC, who will make a profit, or at least recoup expenses, >from sale of the
printed versions. As a translator of the Horodetz Yizkor Book and as a
digitizer of the Zaromb Yizkor Book, both of which are now in the Yizkor
book database, I have a vested interest in this situation. There are,
however, several ways of looking at this.
The digitization project of the NYBC copies, preserves and distributes
Yiddish books which would otherwise be lost or inaccessible. I have
contributed money to them to support this project since I am under the
impression that they are a non-profit volunteer organization, just as
Jewishgen is. There is a certain amount of cost connected with the
digitizing and printing of these books. They sell copies of the digitized
Yiddish books at reasonable prices, which I assume are set to at least
recoup their costs. I have no problem with this.
These books are in the original Yiddish or Hebrew, so there is no
intellectual effort involved in the mechanical processes of digitizing and
The work we have done in translating these books into English is an
intellectual, creative effort which can be copyrighted. If we have, indeed,
copyrighted our translation work (which I have not done, yet) then we should
be reimbursed by any organization which makes a profit out of our work.
This works OK when the work is printed and sold under controlled conditions.
What do we do when the work is freely available to anyone on the
internet? As it now is through the JewishgenYizkor Book database project?
My feeling is, that so long as Jewishgen doesn't make a profit out of
managing the web site, then I am comfortable with contributing my work
toward the further dissemination of this valuable information. Suppose
someone downloads my translation and prints and sells the translation. I'm
not a lawyer, but I guess I would be entitled to reimbursement, if there is
any profit involved.
We are amateurs (in the original sense of doing this for love) and
volunteers. I think Joyce Field and her lawyers need to clarify this
situation for us.
MODERATOR NOTE: Joyce Field replies as follows:
Gene, if anyone tries to sell your translation, they could be in
trouble. You have the rights to the translation and you could indeed
take legal action. The donor agreement you sign with JewishGen says
that you retain your right to the material. If you paid for a
translation with your own funds, you "own" the translation. That's
why we urge a work for hire agreement, which clarifies that the one
who pays for a translation has the "rights" to it.
If a translation is funded through donations made to JewishGen in a
fundraising project, JewishGen holds the copyright and could take
legal action if someone sold the translation. All this is spelled
out in http://www.jewishgen.org/yizkor/donation/. So there is
protection all around.
However, I do not believe that the NYBC is reprinting translations,
only the original yizkor books.
I have written to Aaron Lansky asking him to clarify issues that
were brought up in two messages posted to the Yizkor Book Digest.