Translators and lyricists


Should translated works include both the translator and the lyricist of the original work, or is the latter not needed?

Recording and display of original composers/lyricists on derivative works

I’ve been wondering about this myself for parody/extended versions; do I include the writers of the original work alongside those of the later version, or do I rely on the work-work relationship to fill that? Arguing for the former, neither the web UI nor Picard follow the links beyond the first work so will only display the artists on that single work, but arguing for the second, putting every one on every work negates most benefits of the hierarchical structure and can really easily get out of synch if the base work is edited.


I always add the original writers and the translator.


It seems that in most booklets, original lyricists are credits alongside adaptors.


Yeah, but they might be marked with “original lyrics by” or “adapted/additional lyrics by”. In a roughly-flat list like the booklets, that may be the best the author can do while staying in the same style. We have a much more hierarchical structure, and we might want to take advantage of that. It’s not the “as printed” mentality, but of all entities, works are the least reflective of any particular release already, and given how widely they can be shared, I think it’s harmful to try to fit them into it.


My rule of thumb is that all people involved in a work should be credited for that work, even if they are already connected to source works. Because you can never be sure if all credits for a work apply to the derivatives of that work too. A work may be a translation with new music composed for it, or only a part of a work is used to base a new work on, causing one of the original songwriters to become irrelevant for the new work etc.


Same here. There is a possibility that excluding credits may violate contributors’ moral right of attribution.


If the translated song merely uses the melody but not the lyrics (meaning that the new lyrics have no relevance to the lyrics of the original work), then it shouldn’t violate the original lyricist’s moral rights, right?


It might, because the original lyricist was a contributor to the original work.


In that case it is not really a translation. The new work should link to the old one, but only the composers should be duplicated. The lyricist for the new work should not be credited as a translator but as a lyricist.

Of course any translation of poetry requires writing new lyrics to some extent, because of the constraints of metre and rhyme often make a straight translation impossible. There is always a grey area.


For context, many Asian artists often perform covers of Western songs whose lyrics are substantially altered from the original works. Faithful translations are (in my experience, at least) extremely rare to nonexistent.


I don’t understand why not crediting someone for work they have not done is disrespectful. If a derivative work only uses the original instrumentals, then what does the original lyricist have to do with the derivative work?


The way I see it is the original credits are there as a snapshot of the original work. If you look at the liner notes for a release that uses translated works, you’ll see all the creators of the original work credited, alongside the translator.


And we do have that as well – it’s everything attached to the work on the other side of “based on” or whatever other relationship is used. Like I said before, linear notes have a certain structure because they’re inherantly flat and can only ever contain one level of data. We are inherantly hiearchical, so we shouldn’t be bound into replicating the conventions required by flat data.

I’m also not entirely sure the legal worry is valid, though I do understand a bit better where it comes from. We plaster any question about commercial use with cautions that we don’t guarantee data correctness, and there are several places on the site we have the same disclaimer. If anyone even wanted to sue us over that, I’m pretty sure our response would be “Sorry, we didn’t know. Give us a minute to fix that for you.” which is a better defense against the courts than conforming to any particular structure will ever be.

And finally, I get the reasoning of “there’s no way to say which parts of the original were used in the derived work”, but I also don’t like the idea of duplicating the data. What if the upper-level credits are incomplete, or even wrong? Is someone adding the better data expected to check on every linked work in case they also need updating? If we figure we need that clarity, wouldn’t it be better to add a couple relationship attributes to say “lyrics translated from” or “later version of music from” without involving the other half of the work?


I don’t really like it either. Ideally I’d like to see something like a preview window with all the original credits inside it, and all the new relationships (translator, publishers, etc.) attached to the derivative.