On 3rd April 2016 a groundbreaking document was signed between ODEI (the Italian Observatory of Independent Publishers), STRADE (the Italian Union of Translators working in the publishing industry), and the SLC-CGIL (Italian Union of Communication Workers, which STRADE is joining to represent translators). These associations signed a code of practice for a fair relationship between publishers and translators. The code provides a series of guidelines: ‘Five Points for a Fair, Legal and Transparent Translation Contract’.

It is the first contractual agreement between an association of publishers and an association of literary translators in Italy. By signing it, publishers commit to respect all provisions of Italian copyright law and, in particular, to adopt only contracts of the type established and regulated by the law (‘Contratto di edizione’) in order to fully respect the rights of translators as authors. In addition, the document affirms that contracts must not only be legal but also fair. This is important because, due to the inequality of bargaining power between individual translators and publishers, many translation contracts, even though they formally respect the law, are weighted in favour of the publisher.

Unfair contractual practices not only jeopardize the actual protection of translators’ rights and their social role, but they also put at risk the proper functioning of the publishing system, which relies on collaboration between the various figures involved. This is why ODEI, STRADE and SLC-CGIL, who share the goal of building a pluralistic, ethical and economically sound publishing system, have established good contractual practices as a central pillar in their collaboration.

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