Translation and copyright in Spain

If you are beginning your translation career and want to translate for a Spanish enterprise, you may have had doubts related to copyright in translation, which types are subject to this, which ones are exempt from VAT, etc. Today, we are going to talk about copyright in translation in general, and in audiovisual translation specifically. 

Photo by Umberto on Unsplash

First of all, do all types of translation have copyright? No, they don’t. There are some types that do have it: the ones that imply a process of adaptation or creation, that is to say, the ones that change the original into something “new” (always keeping in mind that the message of the original text must always be delivered as it is in the target text). If the translation doesn’t imply any changes such as adaptation, copyright shouldn’t be applied. 

Types of translation that have copyright

As we mentioned before, if a translation implies a process of adaptation or creation (meaning that the final work is far from the original one), the translator is also considered the author. Then, what are the types included in this? Audiovisual translation (subtitling, dubbing, spotting…), literary, scientific or artistic, for example.

This is noted in the 11th article of the Rewritten Text of the Intellectual Property Act, which explains: “The following shall also be the subject of intellectual property, without prejudice to the copyright in the original work: translations and adaptations; revision updated editions or annotations; compendiums, summaries and extracts; musica arrangements; all kinds of transformation of a literary, artistic or scientific work.”

Audiovisual translation

That way, audiovisual translators are authors of their work and, thus, owners of copyright. The current legislation about intellectual property (Intellectual Property Act) recognises in the articles 1 and 2 the author of a work (whether it is literary, artistic or scientific) some moral and proprietary rights that give the owner full disposition and exclusive rights to make use of that work. Here, DAMA (Derechos de Autor de Medios Audiovisuales) explains all rights audiovisual translators have. Moreover, you can declare your works in the webpage The percentages of copyright of audiovisual works agreed by DAMA and ATRAE are the following:

  • Translator for dubbing: 2,625%
  • Spotter for dubbing: 2,625%
  • Translator for subtitles: 0,56%

Translations that do not have copyright

The works that are exempt from copyright are those that don’t imply a process of adaptation or creation (meaning that the translated work is not far from the original one). These are “linguistic translations”, loyal to the original. For example, legal translation, as well as commercial, technical translation, interpreting…

Translation and VAT

Lastly, we want to mention the types of translation that are exempt from VAT and those that are not.

According to the Act 37/1992, dated 28th December, of Value Added Tax (VAT), professional services are exempt of VAT. In this group, those who receive a remuneration of copyright are included. Some examples are: writers, literary collaborators, visual arts artists… Additionally, musical composers, and theatre authors. Also adaptation, script and dialogue in audiovisual works, translators and adapters. That is, the translations that are exempt from VAT are those that have copyright. That includes audiovisual, literary, scientific or artistic translation.

Therefore, the types of translation that are subject to VAT are those that don’t have copyright: legal, commercial, technical translation, interpreting…

Have you got any doubts? Tell us in the comments.

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Las traducciones audiovisuales están exentas de IVA – Translinguo Global. Retrieved 9 June 2022, from

Servicios de traducción. Exención de IVA y otras cuestiones | cde. Retrieved 9 June 2022, from

ATRAE y DAMA llegan a un acuerdo sobre el porcentaje de derechos de autor para traductores, adaptadores y traductores de subtítulos – ATRAE. (2014). Retrieved 9 June 2022, from

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