Shared resources, shared values? Ethical implications of sharing translation resources

Joanna Drugan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The exploitation of large corpora to create and populate shared translation resources has been hampered in two areas: first, practical problems (“locked-in” data, ineffective exchange formats, client reservations); and second, ethical and legal problems. Recent developments, notably on-line collaborative translation environments(Desillets, 2007) and greater industry openness, might have been expected to highlight such issues. Yet the growing use of shared data is being addressed only gingerly. Good reasons lie behind the failure to broach the ethics of shared resources. The issues are challenging: confidentiality, ownership, copyright, authorial rights, attribution, the law, protectionism, costs, fairness, motivation, trust, quality, reliability. However, we argue that, though complex, these issues should not be swept under the carpet. The huge demand for translation cannot be met without intelligent sharing of resources (Kelly, 2009). Relevant ethical considerations have already been identified in translation and related domains, in such texts as Codes of Ethics, international conventions and declarations, and Codes of Professional Conduct; these can be useful here. We outline two case studies from current industry initiatives, highlighting their ethical implications. We identify questions which users and developers should be asking and relate these to existing debates and codes as a practical framework for their consideration.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3-9
Number of pages7
JournalJEC 2010: Proceedings of the second joint EM+/CNGL Workshop "Bringing MT to the user: research on integrating MT in the translation industry
Publication statusPublished - 2010

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