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.

Tilford Bartman <bartmant@...>


I'm a member of NYBC, although admittedly not a very active one.
However when I heard about a year ago about their Yizkor book
digitization project I spoke with some people there about it. My
understanding also is that they are just digitizing and making
available only the original Yizkor books. I had hoped that they would
be doing some of their own translations and making them available
also but this is apparently not the case. I think that what they are
doing is of considerable but somewhat limited value. My understanding
is that many of the Yizkor books are available even in Yiddish or
Hebrew only in quite limited numbers, and that many of these books
are getting old and are not very well preserved. I think NYBC should
be supported in their effort, and I have quite a bit of confidence
that they will not be doing anything that could be seen as possibly
illegal or unethical. However, I do understand people's concerns and
desire to clarify the situation. It's so clear to me that so many
people have given so much of themselves in connection with the Yizkor
Book Project, and have done such important work. Work that I have
personally learned so much >from . . . hats off to every one of them!

Tilford Bartman

Kirsten Gradel <kmgradel@...>

However, I do not believe that the NYBC is reprinting translations,
only the original yizkor books.
Please, what does NYBC stand for - I can guess NY could be for New York,
but BC?

Kirsten Gradel, Denmark

MODERATOR NOTE: NYBC = National Yiddish Book Center