I have recently finished a work in which one of the chapters is based upon a translation of a nineteenth century document in which I have made use of a free online translator. Where the translator seemed to be at fault, I have done the translation myself; though in the end, the major portion of the whole translation used in that chapter relies on the output of the online translator.

The book, in three volumes, contains sixty chapters, only one of which, includes output from the the aforementioned translator.

QUESTION: Am I obligated to acknowledge the use of this free online tool; and if so, how should that be done? Can the writer of the software legally demand some sort of royalties when the book is published? I anticipate that it will be published in the United States.

UPDATE A follow-up to this question is found here: Copyright Ownership of a Translated Article Appearing in a Book in Which an Online Translator was Used

  • 1
    You might want to ask a question about whether you have copyright in the translated chapter
    – Dale M
    Jan 28 at 22:29
  • @DaleM Hmm. I didn't think of that. Thanks.
    – DDS
    Jan 28 at 22:45
  • If you are publishing a scholarly document, be aware that copyright and plagiarism are two distinct issues. The accepted answer explains that you're safe on the copyright side, but you might still be accused of plagiarism if you don't acknowledge the source.
    – Stef
    Jan 29 at 11:17

1 Answer 1


Using software generally does not entail any legal requirement to acknowledge the use of that software, and would only arise as a licensing condition. Google services, including Translate, are subject to certain terms of use especial the part about what they expect of you. They do not impose any requirement regarding acknowledgment, therefore they cannot later demand any royalties. If a translation program imposes any demands on your usage of the program, that has to be part of the original agreement whereby you were allowed to use the software at all.

  • Many thanks for your most helpful answer.
    – DDS
    Jan 28 at 21:16

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