Antitrust Laws And Translation Industry

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It is sad that we live in 21st century and yet we have to be dependent on outdated laws and legal practices. I love my profession and I believe that every translator deserves to be compensated fairly for his/her work. We live in the world where global translation companies (middlemen) apply enormous pressure on our rates and drive them to the bottom. Yet, for some reason, we cannot get the support of ATA and other global associations to voice our concerns because of antitrust laws.

So it seems like it’s OK to exploit translators and pay the rates that are considered below the minimum wage in many countries. While fighting for your right to be compensated fairly and treated as a professional is against the law. Something is wrong here. Don’t you think so? This helplessness of ATA when it comes to defending our profession and protecting it from greedy business sharks who invent new schemes to rip translators off on a daily basis is probably the main reason that stops me from becoming a member of any professional association. I mean, how good is the association if it cannot protect your profession or at least speak about the problems that affect thousands of professional translators across the globe? I guess we have to fight our own battles.

The Downward Price Pressure

My major concern is the growing number of companies and individuals in the middle that keep lowering our rates to the point where such rates become completely inappropriate and send the wrong message to our end clients and young inexperienced translators. Even seasoned translators receive “lucrative” offers to translate something highly technical at 0.05-0.07 USD per word (or less!) on a daily basis. Oftentimes those offers come from key market players with millions in profits. They keep pushing our rates to the bottom as if it is some sort of the coordinated stunt, while we’re absolutely defenseless because of antitrust laws. The laws that are supposed to protect us (small service providers). Just look at the recent job postings on Proz. How many of those companies can provide decent rates for their translators? That’s why it’s completely beyond me, how this downward pressure is not an antitrust law violation.

I do hope that someday this will change and professional associations such as ATA, ALIA and others will rise to protect the interests of its members and show that they truly care about our industry and our profession. Until then we need to realize that we’re not monkeys and stop working for peanuts. After all we’re the ones who’re doing 95% of the work. Not project managers or business executives. And we’re the ones who will be shaping up the bright future of our profession.

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Dmitry Kornyukhov

Entrepreneur. English-Russian Translator. Video game localization specialist. Helping small and medium-sized businesses go global. Loving every minute of it.


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