This Translation Guide is intended to guide teams preparing linguistic translations of the CC legal tools in accordance with the Legal Code Translation Policy. It identifies common issues that arise when translating and proofing the text. Please review this guide when proofing your first draft before submitting to CC HQ. (This is not a complete list of potential issues, and review by CC HQ is still necessary before a translation can be finalized and published.)

This document will be continually updated and improved as we work with teams on their translations and identify additional issues: please send any comments and additions not already identifed through the translation process to legal (at) creativecommons (dot) org.

General issues for all documents

  • Formatting should be kept the same—text that is bold or emphasized in the original English text should also be formatted that way in any translation. (Even if different jurisdictions would customarily do this emphasis differently.)
  • All definitions should remain in the same order (even though the translated terms will no longer be in alphabetical order). Similarly, all license sections should remain in the same order. This is to ensure that cross-references to sections within the text remain the same, and also so that explanatory materials that refer to particular sections of the license are applicable to all translations of the license.
  • All defined terms should be translated the same way and capitalized throughout the document.
  • All defined terms should correspond as closely as possible to the English meaning. It is fine to replace these defined terms with longer phrases if it is necessary to get the correct meaning.
  • No references to specific local legislation should be included; the legal meaning of all provisions should be kept the same as in the English version. (Where there are questions about something that does not have an appropriate linguistic translation, please point them out to Legal. If you are able to come to an appropriate solution within your community, we'd like to hear the decisions you made, and if you are stuck we will work with you to find something that comes closest to the meaning of the English text. )
  • All substantive clauses from the original document should be included.
  • Cross-references to other sections should be correct; this is particularly something to watch for when translating the 4.0 license suite.
  • Numbering of sections should match with the original.
  • Please check spelling and grammar.
  • Connecting words should be checked: for example, "and" and "or" in English should line up with words with corresponding meaning in the translation.
  • Include the navigational boxes indicating the availability of other languages. Please note that if you are translating from English, you should also include English on the "in other languages" box! Languages should appear on the list in that langauge—for example, "English", "Nederlands", "français ", "Ελληνικά".)
  • Explanatory text should be kept outside the license, except for English terms quoted for clarity when no exact translation exists. We do encourage you to create or translate FAQs and other explanatory materials, however.
  • Notes should be kept on the translation worksheet, available at Legal_Code_Translation_Policy#Supporting_documents. This worksheet will be the primary place where the legal team leaves comments on a translation in progress. You are encouraged to include other translation and process notes as a separate section, if they are not specific to a particular item in the chart or if they require more explanation.

Using references

If there are ports of earlier versions of the license in your language (in any jurisdiction), please note any differences in word choice or other elements that might otherwise be expected to be the same. (It is acceptable to choose differently, but should be for a reason that makes sense for the current project.) Where there are differences between multiple ports in a language used by multiple jurisdictions, please note the reasoning for the choice made.

Where there are terms that correspond to concepts in legal references, such as national copyright laws in jurisdictions which use your language, the Berne Convention, the Database Directive, other national/regional laws or international treaties, or legal scholarship in your language, please note where you are using these reference as a guide to word choices, or where you are making a different choice.

Elements outside the legal code

  • Elements that are not part of the Legal code (as defined at Legal code) must still be translated, though it is not required that they correspond as strictly. This includes all notices and disclaimers on the page.
  • Remember to change links to translations in your language, where applicable. For example, in the 4.0 licenses, the link back to the Commons Deed at the bottom of the document should link directly back to the Deed in your language. Similarly, if you have translated the Considerations page, the link to that page in the introductory paragraphs should be to your language's translation.
  • Before a translation will be published, the Deed and the Chooser must also be translated. Even if you already have a translation in your language, you may wish to revisit these before the translation is published to make sure the word choice matches up with the choices made in the legal code.
  • URLs in the document are protocol-relative; that is, they do not begin with "http:" or "https:". Links in the document should look like "//creativecommons.org".

4.0 license suite issues

  • "ShareAlike" can be translated literally or in a way that explains its meaning, e.g. “distribution under the same conditions.”
  • "Using Creative Commons Public Licenses": "Creative Commons Public Licenses" should all be capitalized as a defined phrase.
  • "Copyright and Similar Rights": in English, this was deliberately written to be broader than "Copyright and Neighboring Rights", which appears in 3.0. Many jurisdictions have a set of rights often referred to as "Neighboring Rights", and a term corresponding to that set of rights was probably used in any 3.0 ports, and may appear in national copyright laws. The term in your 4.0 translation should not be that term--it should be broader, to include neighboring rights and others mentioned in the scope of the license. The term used in 4.0 should also be different from the translation for "Copyright and Related Rights" used in CC0 because the CC0 term has a slightly different scope.
  • "Effective Technological Measures": this is not equivalent to "Technical Protection Measures" or "Digital Rights Management"/"DRM". The phrase was chosen in English to correspond exactly to those measures which carry legal penalties for circumvention (which is not necessarily true of all Technological Protection Measures). If there is a distinction between the two in reference in your languages, please use the one that corresponds to "Effective Technological Measures".
  • "You": in the definition, please mention all forms of the word that appear in the translated document (for example, English mentions both "You" and "Your").
  • "For the avoidance of doubt": this is an idiomatic English phrase. Where this phrase occurs, the translation should be something that indicates that the text which follows is not necessary and does not change the meaning of any other text in the license, but is included to ensure that the other licenses text is not misinterpreted.
  • "Fair use" and "fair dealing": where these terms do not have equivalents in your language, you may wish to include the English phrase in quotations to be clear that they are referring to particular legal concepts that apply to some jurisdictions. Note that the terms are mentioned here as illustrative examples and should be used in all translations, even though the legal concepts are not applicable in all jurisdictions.
  • If you are using terms that are abbreviated (such as "URI"), be sure that you also replace the abbreviation if you are using a translated term. You may wish to also include the English in parentheses (such as "URI") if it is commonly known or used in your language.
  • "Adapted Material" not be translated using the word used for “derivative work” or “adaptation” under local copyright law because the defined term is intentionally designed to cover more than the legal definitions of “derivative work” or “adaptation” under copyright law.
  • "Licensed Material:" In English, we chose “Material” over other terms like work and content because this particular version of the license can be applied to things like data, which are not copyrightable works. If possible, this term should be translated to avoid those terms for the same reasons.
  • "Share:" In English, we chose “Share” because it is not a recognized term under copyright law. We did this so as to avoid the impression that only a single act under copyright law (e.g., reproduction) would trigger the license conditions.
  • "Downstream recipients:" This term, which is used in Section 2A5, can be challenging to translate. In English, it has no legal meaning so the translation should just be something that conveys that the section is about people who receive the licensed material from someone other than the original licensor.
  • "Section 2b2:" It is particularly important to translate this provision literally because other variations (e.g., translating it to say “not affected”) have different legal meaning.
  • "Section 3a1:" It is very important that the translation for “including in modified form” not use terms that mean “adapting” under copyright law. Additionally, do not adjust in order to use the defined term for “Adapted Material”. This is intended to capture all modifications and not just those that would meet the standard to constitute a derivative work or adaptation under copyright.
  • "Section 3a1A:" URI was intentionally chosen over URL because URI standard for “uniform resource identifier” and has a broader meaning.
  • "Section 3a1B:" The translation here should not give the impression that this provision is limited to modifications that rise to the level of an adaptation under copyright.
  • "Section 4a:" The language in this provision (“extract,” “reuse” “substantial portion” ) was chosen very carefully in English to track the relevant provisions of laws implementing the Database Directive. If applicable, please use the relevant terms from local implementations of this Directive. If there is no local implementation, please use something that translates the terms as literally as possible.
  • "Section 8d:" Privileges and immunities are legal terms and should be translated as such.
  • When creating the rest of the license suite, the language used should be identical in all six licenses (BY, BY-NC, etc.) except in the instances where the English varies.

CC0 issues

  • Key Words: these words are most important to determining the meaning of the document. Please let us know if you have any questions around how to translate these words (particularly if there is not an exact translation, if the English meaning is not clear to you, or if the difference between the keyword and other similar terms is not clear to you).
    • "Copyright and Related Rights": note that this is a different phrase than the language in 4.0 for "Copyright and Similar Rights"—these are not identical in scope and should probably be different in most translations.
    • "Work"
    • "Affirmer": the English version states that CC0 is "associated with" or "applied to" the work. Translations should choose words that convey that this is being done by an Affirmer who has authority to apply CC0 to the work.
    • "License"
    • "Waiver"
    • "Statement of Purpose": this should be referred to as a proper name everywhere in the document, with the same wording that is used in the first section heading. It must be clear that references elsewhere in the text mean the "Statement of Purpose" section of the document, not simply any statement of purpose.
  • The heading should be "CC0 1.0 Universal"
  • In paragraphs 2 and 3, subsections i-iv should use the same wording in each place where the English text is also identical, unless there is a particular reason for them to be different.