(2017-01-29, 4:40 pm)Zarxrax Wrote: I'm sure the original tales are not copyrighted, but these specific versions may be. Sort of like how "Disney's Snow White" is copyrighted despite the original story being so old. Your best bet might be to try contacting the site operator. I would be curious to know the answer as well!
Disney movies are quite different; a feature film loosely based on a public domain fairy tale can certainly be copyrighted (doing so does not, however, prevent someone else from making their own film or tv show or story variation as the original work is still in the public domain.)
Just having a couple words different wouldn't make a unique work that can be copyrighted, and a translation in any case would not be word-for-word to the original by definition since it's, well, a translation into a different language.
That said, the voice recordings -are- copyrighted, the artwork on the pages is probably copyrighted, the layout (combining text, art, and voice recording player in the way that they are) is probably copyrighted. And while the old folktales (douwa,minwa,mukashibanashi, and the folk/fairy tales from other languages) are public domain works some of the ghost stories seem like they could be much more recent and potentially could be copyrighted. The site layout is probably also copyrighted. Ah, and anything that has already been translated is potentially copyrighted. The translation of a public domain work is copyrightable anyway.
I haven't looked for it, but I'd expect somewhere in Aozora you can find versions of the stories if you're more comfortable with something that is clearly labeled public domain, but I wouldn't hesitate to translate from hukumusume's folktales. I might want to check with the ghosts stories.
I would probably contact them anyway if I did do a translation - after all they might want to used my translation on their site! Of course letting them use it could interfere if you have plans to make money from your translations, but TBH I don't think there's a lot of money to be made in translating fairy tales. You're probably better off giving all comers permission to publish it with proper accreditation and using it as PR for your translating talents if you'd like to make money from translating.
(2017-01-29, 6:02 pm)pm215 Wrote: The about-the-site page is pretty clear that they're original retellings (phrased to be easy to read, some changes to plots, etc).
Oh, well, if they're making that claim then I guess it's best to be careful. I didn't notice any major differences in those stories that I've also seen other versions of, so I'm a little dubious that they've made anything that qualifies as an original work (translations excepted), but then again the number of stories I've also read elsewhere is like, 3.... (赤鬼と青鬼、欲張り爺さん、and whatsit, the story for that holiday where you hang wishes out to be seen the one night a year the lovers are allowed to reunite, I forget the name of the holiday or the story.) So anyway, maybe some of the other stories are legitimately reworked I dunno but it's hardly worth risking getting in a fight over it when there's surely versions out with a clean pedigree as it were.
Interestingly, the about section says that there are douwa that are completely original works, though they're not publicized as such. Hmmm.
Edited: 2017-01-29, 6:21 pm