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I am currently looking for documentation for software in a non-English language, but there is only documentation on the software in English.

In order to help other non-English speakers, I decided to check out how google translate transfers the documentation to a language I know.

It turns out, it does a really good job except for some minor mistakes.

I'm thinking of making a site where I copy-paste this google translated documentation and fix up the errors in the non-English language. Would this be illegal under copyright law? technically I didn't copy anything because I translated a page using google translate, then fixed up the words so the meaning is more clear. So technically I am re-writing some words, and the words are not from the original source but are just from applying google translate to a page.

For example, I originally have this online documentation:https://cohesiondocs.acquia.com/6.1/tutorials/using-acquia-cohesion-existing-website

then I use the google translate chrome extension to translate the page:

enter image description here

Some of the words are wrong so I fix them up and make a post on my own website.

Would it be legal If I say "originally translated from this site" or just list the site as a reference? I am editing the translated text to fix the wording but the meaning and the content are essentially the same.

Additionally, I'm not able to find the copyright documentation for the site link I provided above. Could someone find it and link it in their answer, and interpret how the copyright text answers my question?

Essentially, I could translate the whole documentation by myself to avoid this problem. However, that's quite tedious and is much easier if I use the automated tool that is Google Translate, then do a Quality Check and fix up the errors.

If copy-pasting the google translate is illegal, then exactly how much must I edit, move around sentences, change words, and such until the text is no longer plagiarized? Is this plagiarism or copyright infringement? where can I check the copyright for the above link?

It would really help to get some feedback and some things to watch out for.

The thing is, even if I do write information originally, it ends up really similar to the original document because it's mainly just a step-by-step guide to doing things (which don't have much room to be changed). So is it more about the mode in which the new document is created, rather than how similar the actual document is to the reference? If I write my own step-by-step guide on how to use some software, even if it is very similar to the original, it's totally legal? So many how-to guides are similar out there.

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    Plagiarism is not a crime - copyright infringement is. I assume the original documentation is copyrighted. That is the copyright in question. Google translate is a tool for translation. In your scheme you will be the one who publishes a translated version of a, presumably, copyrighted work. Your tweaks may not be terribly relevant to the question of copyright infringement. – George White Jun 10 at 5:39
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A translation is a devivative work - the copyright owner has the exclusive right to these

So, yes, translation is prima facie copyright infringement.

Strictly speaking, if you translate it, it's a derivative work because you exercised creativity in making the translation; what Google translate does is not a derivative work, it's a copy because there is no creativity. Either way, only the copyright owner can do (or authorise) this.

Whether it's legal or not depends on if what you are doing falls within one of the exceptions to the applicable copyright law such as fair use or fair dealing.

Attributing the original author does not, of itself, allow translation.

Additionally, I'm not able to find the copyright documentation for the site link I provided above.

What is "copyright documentation"? Copyright exists the moment a work is created and no further documentation is required.

Essentially, I could translate the whole documentation by myself to avoid this problem.

No, you can't - see above.

If copy-pasting the google translate is illegal, then exactly how much must I edit, move around sentences, change words, and such until the text is no longer plagiarized?

All of it. If you were, based on your own knowledge of the software, to write a manual without any copying o the existing manual, that would not be copyright infringement.

Is this plagiarism or copyright infringement?

It's copyright infringement - plagiarism is an academic misconduct issue not a legal one.

where can I check the copyright for the above link?

The site you linked has "Copyright © 2020 Acquia, Inc. All Rights Reserved" in the bottom left corner which identifies the copyright holder, the date and prohibits all copying ("all rights reserved"). This isn't necessary but it is helpful.

If you really want to do this, contact Acquia, Inc and ask for permission.

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  • Thank you for the detailed answer! The thing is, even if I do write information originally, it ends up really similar to the original document because it's mainly just a step-by-step guide to doing things (which don't have much room to be changed). So is it more about the mode in which the new document is created, rather than how similar the actual document is to the reference? If I write my own step-by-step guide on how to use some software, even if it is very similar to the original, it's totally legal? So many how-to guides are similar out there. – Kentaro T. Vadney Jun 10 at 19:18
  • I think you can't even publish a manual for the software written from scratch on the basis that it would be a derivate of the software, which in itself is under copyright. A tips-and-tricks book ala "X for dummies" is different, but also might be a derivative work. – Trish Jun 10 at 23:00
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    @Trish if you don't have access to the source code, then you can't be making a derivative work. – Dale M Jun 11 at 0:57
  • @DaleM But then does that mean every single author of Java tutorials has access to Java source code? Could all tutorial makers potentially get sued by the people who made the original works (like the creators of JS, Java, python, or any other language against the millions of books and video tutorials out there)? – Kentaro T. Vadney Jun 15 at 1:41

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