Navigating the Legal Landscape of Audiovisual Translation
In the rapidly expanding world of global content distribution, content creators, media companies, streaming platforms, localization agencies, and legal professionals are grappling with the complex task of overcoming language barriers. As the demand for international content continues to surge, the importance of understanding the legal and social considerations in subtitling and dubbing is becoming more crucial.
 
Do You Have the Right to Add Subtitling or Dubbing?
In the realm of international content distribution, the initial consideration during the translation process is to ensure that contractual agreements with the original content owner encompass the requisite permissions and licenses for subtitling and dubbing. If the distributor has not already undertaken the subtitling or dubbing process, the licensee must verify their right of adaptation for these purposes.
Be Mindful of the Translators’ Rights
Even if these processes have been undertaken by the content owner and the licensee is supposed to work on an already existing translation/subtitle; according to certain regions’ intellectual property laws, subtitles cannot be modified without the translator’s approval.
Moreover, translators are considered authors. Therefore they retain the moral rights to their work indefinitely. However, the exploitation rights are transferred along with their work to the buyer of the adaptation. As a result, the Licensee must make sure that transfer of rights is set forth in their contract with the translator.
How Many Languages Do You Need to Consider?
The licensee must conscientiously factor in the local laws of the distribution region. Some countries require all imported audiovisual content to follow certain regulations regarding dubbing or subtitling. In regions with two or more official languages, the licensee may be obligated to engage dubbing or subtitling services to cater to all languages spoken in that area.
How to Avoid Discrimination and Create Equal Opportunity?
In certain jurisdictions, there may be a legal obligation to include subtitles or dubbing specifically designed for underserved populations, such as subtitles or sign language for individuals with hearing impairments, or dubbing for those with visual impairments. Consequently, even if the content language aligns with the distribution region, the licensee could find themselves legally compelled to undertake translation efforts to meet accessibility standards.
Do You Have to Use a Certain Method?
Your options might be restricted to either utilizing subtitling or dubbing, contingent on the country and the specific nature of the content.
Cultural Sensitivity and Compliance
Certain countries enact laws that regulate language use and prohibit specific words to safeguard youth and prevent potential negative influences on the public. In some conservative nations, the use of swear words or terms related to alcoholic beverages or tobacco products may be restricted. Depending on the distribution platform, these laws may vary, prompting the licensee to consider choosing between subtitling or dubbing or exercising caution in the choice of words during the dubbing process.
The Path Forward: A Harmonious Blend of Creativity and Compliance
Navigating the complexities of global content distribution involves a meticulous consideration of legal and cultural factors in subtitling and dubbing. As the demand for international content grows, taking the above-mentioned concerns into account results in a conflict-free legal environment and successful viewing experience for the audience.