On 1 April 2014 the German association of literary translators VdÜ and a group of German publishing houses led by Carl Hanser Verlag in Munich, have concluded a joint agreement on remuneration and royalties for literary translations in Germany (‘Gemeinsame Vergütungsregel’).

Twelve years since the new copyright laws came into force in 2002, giving authors the right to appropriate and equitable fees and royalties, and after a series of more than 50 legal actions brought by individual literary translators against their publishing houses, some of those publishing houses and the VdÜ have now reached an agreement on appropriate and equitable fees:

  1. Literary translators are to receive a basic minimum fee of 18.50 € per manuscript page (30 lines of a maximum 60 signs, ca. 1,500 characters including spaces) for texts of normal quality and difficulty, but a minimum of €15 for all kinds of literature (including children’s books, all kinds of non-fiction, manuals etc.) and a minimum of 22 € for all kinds of difficult and demanding literature.
  2. In addition to the basic fee, translators are to receive minimum royalties for printed book editions: 1 % of retail price for sales up to 5,000 copies, 0.8 % for sales from 5,001 to 10,000 copies and 0.6 % for all sales above 10,000 copies. The same applies to all new editions, except for mass market paperback (Taschenbuch) editions following a first hardcover edition, in which case the rates are halved; and 1.6% of the net price (or the publisher’s net receipts) for audio books or similar products to which fixed book prices do not apply.
  3. For every form of digital download and digital audio books (eBooks etc.), the translator will receive 2.5 % of the wholesale price or the publisher’s net receipts for every copy sold or lent.
  4. For the sale of all secondary rights or licences, translators will receive 10 % of the publisher’s net receipts except for licences for mass market paperback editions, for which the rates are halved (5 %).
  5. For translations from the public domain translators will receive the same basic fees, but a minimum of twice the royalties agreed in 2.), 3.) and 4.) unless a contract with better conditions is drawn up.
  6. These rules will be revised every 2 years by mutual negotiation.

The VdÜ and the publishing houses involved invite all publishing houses in Germany to join in with this agreement. According to the German copyright law of 2002 (http://www NULL.ceatl NULL.eu/?p=731), this joint agreement applies to the whole of the book sector, and hence all publishing houses and publishing groups and literary translators are obliged to respect and apply the agreement, at the risk of fresh legal action.

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