Here is Peter Suber's view on unauthorized translations: from an e-mail, posted with permission:
Less than a month after I posted my Very Brief Introduction to Open Access online, I encountered the first translation. No one asked my permission. But I was delighted and said so on my blog:
INIST-CNRS has produced a French translation of my Very Brief Introduction to Open Access. (PS: This is a great example of what can happen when OA removes permission barriers. INIST-CNRS didn't ask for "translation rights" and didn't have to. I pre-authorized this and other scholarly uses of the text by making it OA. I'm delighted and welcome other translations.)
As soon as I publicized my delight, I started hearing about other translations, none of them with prior permission. The introduction now been translated into 14 languages, vastly increasing its audience and usefulness, and all without the delay or hassle of seeking permission. I link to the translations at the bottom of the English edition.
I know that authors of non-OA work, esp. royalty-producing work, might resent this and require permission and royalties. They're differently situated and I support their desire to control translations. (My latest book is now being translated into Chinese, with permissions and royalties carefully negotiated by my publisher, and I'm happy with the whole arrangement.) But authors of OA work should encourage and celebrate spontaneous, OA translations.
[HM: I, too, was delighted to see these translations of A Very Brief Introduction to Open Access - which came so soon after the work itself! For any OA advocate looking for a one-page handout explaining OA for that presentation - I highly recommend this work - now in 14 languages! As for Peter's book that is being translated into Chinese - could this be The Case of the Speluncean Explorers: Nine New Opinions? What an intriguing title!
This post reflects my personal opinion only and does not represent the opinions or policy of the BC Electronic Library Network or the Simon Fraser University Library.