Copyright (eller ophavsret?): En komparativ analyse af den amerikanske copyright-lov og danske ophavsretslov med særligt fokus på lovens genstand, rettigheder og indskrænkninger og en terminologisk analyse af udvalgte termer

Katrine Marxen Wang

Student thesis: Master thesis


A comparative analysis of the American and Danish copyright laws with focus on subject matter, rights and limitations, and a terminological analysis of selected terms The English term “copyright” is often used in the Danish language, even when referring to the Danish copyright law (ophavsretsloven). This is interesting because the term “copyright” is not even a direct translation of the Danish term “ophavsret”. So why is this English term still used in Danish and what is wrong in using it? Those are some of the questions that led me to write a thesis on the subject of copyright. I have chosen to focus on the US because the systems of justice in Denmark and the US are quite different, mainly because the US system is based on common law while the Danish system is based on Scandinavian-German civil law. This, and the fact that the content of the laws differ from one another, will lead to challenges in a translation situation. The content of the US copyright law is quite comprehensive, which is why I had to narrow the focus of my work down to specific areas. The areas I have chosen to analyze are: the subject matter of the law, the rights of the copyright owner and the limitations to these rights. The analysis is divided in three main parts: a comparative analysis of the selected areas in US and Danish copyright law, a terminological analysis and, a theoretical analysis. The object of this thesis is threefold. The aim of the first part of the thesis is to determine similarities and differences between the selected areas of the US and Danish copyright laws. In the second part, concepts that are very specific to the US law are selected and applied in a terminological analysis. Based on these two first parts, suggestions for translation of the selected terms will be produced according to appropriate translation strategies. In order to achieve the object mentioned above, I have based my thesis on three hypotheses. The first is that a comparative study will show significant differences in the selected areas of the US and Danish laws. The second is that these differences will single out concepts from the US law that do not exist in Danish law. Consequently, these concepts will have to be translated. My last hypothesis is that the English concepts include a vast amount of information specifically relating to the US law that the best translation strategy is source language orientation. The comparative analysis showed that there are substantial differences between the copyright laws in the two countries, mainly concerning their background and the conditions for protection works (subject matter). Some of the most apparent differences were the US distinction between the conditions “authorship” and “originality”, aspects that are included in the Danish term “originalitet”, and the fact that US limitations to the exclusive rights are gathered in the broad “fair use” rule, whereas the Danish limitations are thoroughly specified. This last example illustrates how much of the decision-making process is entrusted to the courts in the US, as opposed to Denmark, where most rules are established by law. These differences confirmed my first hypothesis. On the basis of these differences and my own criteria, I selected seven concepts. They do not all appear in the exact wording of the US copyright law, but also in relevant works written on the topic of copyright. The selected concepts were : “fixation”, “originality”, “authorship”, “right of attribution”, “right of integrity”, “fair use” and “copyright”. Subsequently, I created a termbase using the terminology and knowledge base called i-Term and analysed this structuring in order to prepare definitions. This process enabled the comparison of the selected concepts’ meaning and content. I hereby confirmed my second hypothesis because several concepts appeared not to exist in Denmark. In my theoretical analysis I considered some of the most appropriate translation theories such as Nida’s theory on formal and dynamic equivalence, Vermeer’s Skopos theory and theories on source or target language orientation. Based on these theories, I provided suggestions for translation of the selected terms. In most cases the best option was to use a strategy that was mainly source language oriented, in order to create the right effect on the receiver and to make sure that the translation clearly refers to the US copyright law and not the Danish one.

EducationsMA in International Business Communication (Intercultural Marketing), (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2011
Number of pages88