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Chinese subtitles and content that work with mouseover


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Article explaining the gist here, as well as links




Just gave it a quick go, seems to work quite well. It has it's own dictionary, but I found that the chrome Zhongwen extension worked well too with mouseover.

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1 hour ago, Shelley said:

Did you pay the $4.99?


You don't need a premium membership to use the Learn Mode in Viki! The difference between paid and unpaid memberships is 1) some shows are only available to paid members, and 2) the videos for unpaid members carry adverts. The adverts are not too bad, there seem to be about 4 breaks per 45+ minutes episodes, can be skipped after a few seconds, and some are even nice.

The worst about Viki's Learn Mode is that it's only enabled in very few Chinese language shows and the choice of shows is rather poor. That might improve in the future, I just noticed there's a drive for volunteers to help enable more shows.


Another way to make your own 'learn mode' is to join as a volunteer and help in sutitling. Training is provided freely (The Ninja Academy) and you don't even need to know the language, many people just do timing (breaking the video track into segments following the dialogue) or even editing. Of course, a little knowledge of Chinese helps a lot, but these days there seems to be a group of very fast Chinese translators (华人, most of them) who take over most of the primary subtitling. What is needed most of all is people with good English as primary language who also understand Mandarin to do the editing. Editing is always a weak area in fan-subbing, there are some hilarious examples to prove this point. 


If you make enough contributions' as a volunteer, you get a free membership.

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What I don't understand about viki is that they ask volunteers to add the subtitles, but you won't have any rights to your work because of the copyright laws.


In the terms of use they state:




You shall be solely responsible for your own Subtitle Submissions (including text, subtitles, dubs or other communications or graphics submitted by you and other users and the consequences of posting or publishing them). You retain all of your ownership rights in your Subtitle Submissions. However, by submitting the Subtitle Submissions to Viki, you hereby grant:

  1. ...
  2. to all users of the Viki Services a limited noncommercial license to modify and share the Subtitle Submissions within the Viki Community in accordance with the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/4.0/) (“CC BY-NC-SA”).



What kind of ownership rights do I have if I am just transcribing or translating some copyrighted movie? None, I guess?

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All subtitles in Viki are Open Source and, since they are team work, you can't even claim authorship. The attribution should be to the Viki Translating Team or some collective name in that vein. Being open source, you can of course, lift them up and use them in your own project - that's what certain groups outside Viki have been doing for years, sadly not even bothering with the attribution.  


I'm happy with Open Source, as are most other volunteers in fan subbing. Sometimes one would like some recognition, especially after having struggled hours with classical quotes or poem in the dialogue, but basically one does it to learn and for the fun of it. My Chinese has improved very fast in several different aspects since I took up subtitling, even only doing it occasionally. 

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@Luxi This doesn't really address the copyright issue, though. I am not a lawyer, but subtitles and translations are clearly derivative works of the video so the copyright holder would have to be the one to put the subtitles under the creative commons license. I couldn't find anything on Viki which explains this clearly. I mean, if I would create a subtitle for a video on Viki, can I just distribute it on my own without legal ramifications?

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@wibr the answer to your question is given very clear in the link you yourself posted to the Creative Commons license! The license gives wibr and all other members of the subtitling team exactly the same rights as any other member of the public has:




You are free to:

Share — copy and redistribute the material in any medium or format
Adapt — remix, transform, and build upon the material



But you and anybody else who wishes to use the subtitles has to abide by the terms of the license:


You must give appropriate credit, provide a link to the license, and indicate if changes were made. You may do so in any reasonable manner, but not in any way that suggests the licensor endorses you or your use.

You may not use the material for commercial purposes.

If you remix, transform, or build upon the material, you must distribute your contributions under the same license as the original.


Due attribution is not to wibr, no matter how much work wibr did individually, but to the actual team who took over that project in Viki. Note also that this license doesn't give you any right whatsoever over the video. Of course, you will know all this before you join a subtitling team in Viki, and your joining in means you agree with all Viki's terms and are legally bound by them. 


In the practice, Viki's subtitles (and other fan subbing groups') have been used commercially  with no attribution whatsoever for years. You can tell by the propagation of some  peculiar translation mistakes: like for instance, mistaking the Jin (Jurgen) nationality for a person called Jin who's been harassing the Song Dynasty on the northern border. I don't think there's ever been a prosecution for stealing subtitles, it would be much too difficult and costly, and potentially damaging to the Creative Commons concept.


Surprising as it  may seem in this day and age, many people believe passionately in the Creative Commons concept, founded on the principle that knowledge is to be shared freely with all. That's the foundation of institutions like Wikipedia, important publications like De Gruyter's Chinese poetry series and Banksi's street art. 

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  • 4 years later...

To add a little bit to what @Luxi explained so well in this thread, regarding Viki, I’m not a lawyer, but I imagine that it would be hard for Viki to win a lawsuit and claim any substantial damages, because of the work of a team of volunteers. I imagine that if they pursued such a lawsuit, they would spend more money on attorneys than what they could possibly win.


And, they could very possible lose. I speculate that they would be more likely to lose than win, for a lot of reasons, like laws not being very strong in an area like this, lawmakers having to prioritize their workloads with new laws which cause new proposed laws in an area like this to fall way down their priority list, etc., etc., etc.


Maybe a huge company like YouTube (owned by Google) might throw some money at such a lawsuit. Maybe they have a lawyer on staff who has nothing better to do. It would be chump change to them. But, why would they bother? It’s no fun, unless someone happens to have a personal vendetta against a subtitler(s) or something.


I’ve read about rampant stealing of subtitles of all kinds from Viki to copyrighted fan subs. People are making money off other people’s subs, regardless any copyright protection. This includes stealing subtitles from iQiyi, WeTV, MGTV, Youku, etc. They steal them quickly and freely, as if there are no legal consequences.


There’s a much worse example of someone stealing English translations of Chinese books and selling them on Amazon. The translator, who had put out her great translations for free on her website, was so upset by this that she stopped translating. A young person who had done so much great stuff became incredibly embittered, because she was victimized by a thief. I hope she overcomes this someday, thinks about the good people, and doesn’t let a bad person keep ruining her once beloved hobby of translating.


So, I think any subtitler should pretty much go into subbing, expecting their subs to be stolen, and probably stolen quickly.


As for me, I have a big English subtitling project for my personal Chinese learning and for entertainment for my husband and me. I will be doing it for the rest of my life. I’m still utterly amazed that my American husband loves Chinese TV dramas as much as I do. I’m retired and don’t need to make any more money. I’m re-learning Chinese and will put out my various efforts for free.


I’m doing this because English subtitles aren’t actually very accurate for a wide variety of reasons. For example, they are made to be concise or subtitlers inject their own creativity. I prefer what the original story tellers are really saying, because they are professional story tellers. I don’t prefer stuff that cause something to be lost in the translation so-to-speak.


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