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Are hukumusume's fairy tales materials copyrighted?

#1
Hi everyone, I've been toying with an idea lately, making a website for fun where I would put translations of folk tales around the world translated and available in my native language. At first I'm planning to translate mainly from English, but also from French and (possibly) Japanese, so I had an idea to translate the stories of the hukumusume website as they are amazing, however I'm not sure if they are copyrighted at all and if translating them into my language would be something legal, does anyne have any idea about this?

A note though, at first I'm planning to set up this website as a free resource but maybe later I'll try to make some money out of these translations so that's a reason to be even more careful about these concerns.
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#2
(2017-01-29, 2:51 pm)Iuri_ Wrote: Hi everyone, I've been toying with an idea lately, making a website for fun where I would put translations of folk tales around the world translated and available in my native language. At first I'm planning to translate mainly from English, but also from French and (possibly) Japanese, so I had an idea to translate the stories of the hukumusume website as they are amazing, however I'm not sure if they are copyrighted at all and if translating them into my language would be something legal, does anyne have any idea about this?

A note though, at first I'm planning to set up this website as a free resource but maybe later I'll try to make some money out of these translations so that's a reason to be even more careful about these concerns.

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!
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#3
The about-the-site page is pretty clear that they're original retellings (phrased to be easy to read, some changes to plots, etc). That means that the site owner (or whoever wrote them) owns the copyright to them. Audio recordings and so on are also going to be copyrighted (independently of whether the text being read is still in copyright). That means that copying or translating them without permission would be illegal (whether done for profit or not).

There is a bit on the how to contribute page about submitting translations. The part about submitting recordings says that if you submit a recording you can also freely publish it on your own website or blog, so I imagine the site owner would be OK with something similar for a translation, but probably best to ask.

If you want definitely out-of-copyright versions of folktales there's probably something on aozora somewhere...
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#4
(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.

Edit:
(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.

Edit Again:
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
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#5
Thanks for your replies everyone, I think that it's not worth it to risk getting sued trying to translate from hukumusume for now, I have decided that when I start to do my translations I'll start working with what there is available on websites such as Project Gutenberg and Aozora (later down the road), I was digging the internet a bit and I found plenty of folk tales about Japan(and other countries) available in the public domain in English and I decided that for now that's the best move for me, specially because my Japanese skills are miles away from my English skills. However in the future if I insist that translating from hukumusume will be interesting I'll try to contact them as pm215 suggested and ask if I can display my translations in my (future) website in exchange for handing the translations to them, I'll wait until my Japanese skills get (way) better for that though.

Here are my findings so far regarding Japanese folk tales in English, I'm sure there are others out there:

http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/author/1360
http://www.gutenberg.org/files/45723/457...5723-h.htm

I have also found books about European fairy tales in both French and English, if anyone is interested I can post their links here.
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#6
You could just contact the creators and ask for license to post derivative works.
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