Audaciously, TAUS published an article, Translation Leaks. In it, they promote their service asking companies to donate to them their intellectual property in form of TM (Translation Memory) databases. Their argument is that in any case, your memories are leaking, so why not just donate them in the first place!
TAUS has promoted its TM sharing platform to companies and language service providers offering an iStockPhoto-like model where companies can contribute translation memories in return for using their platform. If they don’t donate, they can purchase the service in a pay-per-use model.
According to TAUS, companies can reduce their translation costs by sharing their intellectual property in the form of Translation Memories with others. But there are a few problems that are inherent in this model.
Source documents vary so much that the likelihood of finding any significant identical or usable fuzzy match is very small. We’ve been using translation memory technology at GlobalVision since our inception 20 years ago and even among different divisions of the same company, we find very little overlap in the source documents. Marketing develops its own text, so does training, so does R&D, so do all other divisions from legal, support, to Finance… If between divisions within the same company, one cannot leverage any significant translations, do you think that divisions from different companies will?
The more troubling problem with this concept is that TAUS has been targeting language service providers, which provide work for hire to companies, to trade their translation memories with TAUS. This often violates the essence of contractual agreements with paying clients.
At GlobalVision, all the work we perform for our clients result in assets that are the sole property of the client who paid for the service. We will be violating copyrights and non-disclosure clauses, if we make these assets available to third parties under the TAUS conditions.
Also, looking at it from our clients’ perspectives, why should you make your hard-earned intellectual property, in its source and translated forms, available to your competition on a silver platter?!
It is understandable if public domain assets, developed by governments or not-for-profit organizations are freely used in such a platform or service. But private sector intellectual property should be protected and defended at all costs.
The benefit of accumulating millions and billions of translation segments in all languages is not to leverage perfect or fuzzy matches during current translations, but to use in the distant future as corpora in developing accurate statistical machine translation engines. This is the real benefit to TAUS and anyone else that will be depending on massive translation corpora to build a reliable translation product.
If your translation assets are leaking, you ought to fire your translations companies and hire ones that will protect your intellectual property and live up to their full contractual obligations!