The William Mitchell Law School’s Intellectual Property Clinic has undertaken a great project to help secure the rights to create translations of children’s books into Dakota and Ojibwe, two languages in danger of dying out. Hopefully, these translations will help to keep a big part of Native American and Minnesota culture alive.
One of the exclusive rights copyright law grants the authors is to have control over “derivative works” which includes translations into other languages. This can be a problem if you are working to preserve a language but must ask permission to translate. Publishers may not want to take the time to negotiate a translation if they don’t believe there will be a large market for those translations. As with many things in life, sometimes it just takes some dedicated people to keep pushing.