First, I have to thank you for taking time to take part in our survey, which is very helpful for my research. But it’s a shame that only 4% of those who seen the post filled it up. QAQ
Still, the data gathered is better than nothing. Thank you once again!
And Happy Lunar New Year!
Sorry, but this post ain’t horsing around.
Here, “pirates” refer to people who infringe copyright.
Be warned, this post is very dry.
Let’s begin by clearing up some misunderstandings.
From what I know, pirates who upload anime, manga or dōjinshi on image boards and hosting sites usually do not do it for profit. Pirates who download or stream these media do not spend money nor profit from it as well, aside from bills. Ad revenue, however, is where the cash flows in.
That’s how TPB got sued by the media industry.
But what distinguishes piracy from innocent sharing?
In legal terms, piracy is copying, distributing or using a creation without the permission of the owner. I believe we’ve had our fair share. Even kids nowadays don’t know that they are pirates by grabbing a song and slapping it into their own video, but that’s another story.
We’re also increasingly using the fair use clause to excuse ourselves while we enjoy our favorite anime or manga online from a certain hosting site, for free. Well, I can’t stop you from doing that nor tell you off, since I’m equally guilty. Hey, even my local TV don’t offer the latest episodes from Japan, and they even have the cheek to claim so. And its paid content!
(It’s not they have competition here anyway.)
What is sharing?
Wait… sharing others’ works?
Perhaps let’s take this on a lighter note.
Given that a huge proportion of the general audience of Japanese subculture is predominantly English-speaking, while producers (dōjin and artists) are Japanese, their works somehow have to overcome the language barrier. So, we have the community transferring content from Japanese sites (eg. Pixiv, Niconico) to English sites (eg. 4chan, Danbooru, or just Youtube) where the large part of the audience is, to maximize exposure.
Fansubs and scanlators are notable for sharing copyrighted works.
Sure, I can understand these guys enjoy translating and serve the leeches.
Without them, the community wouldn’t be so big (and full of brohous…)
However, this “sharing” again turns into piracy.
The for-profit corporations or individuals do not like this at all!
(I don’t side with them, by the way. I’m speaking as an observer. Please bear with me.)
“Imitation is the highest form of flattery.”
Heck, never mind the money, if your work is everywhere in the world, it has got to be popular, right?
Say, if you’re a dōjin artist who simply loves to draw, you don’t have to mind getting your pic downloaded off Pixiv… I mean, you uploaded it there for your followers. Be prepared! Or don’t upload at all!
You are responsible for what you post online.
But an entire dōjinshi pirated onto a certain gallery is a grey area. The artists might have hoped that their physical comic books that were sold at events (eg. Reitaisai) stay in their physical form. Of course, we have scanlators who “pirate”, translate, then present to the non-Japanese-speaking audience. I won’t talk about the ad revenues, though. Anyway, with this kind of increased exposure, I’m sure these artists got themselves a bigger fanbase.
Artist Mizuki Hitoshi became popular among the Danbooru community with his 4koma Hang in There Kogasa-san thanks to a few translators. 2 years ago, some Anime Boston attendees even invited him over with expenses paid for! Actually, his 4koma is out for free, but the law and industry players would have labelled the actions of the Danbooru community as piracy.
Dōjin music piracy, too, does no good to profits, but it widens fanbase just like scanlations. Again, if the dōjin circle does it for fun, would they mind their works being shared around the world? Morally speaking, that’s not right, though. The artists worked so hard to create and sell their creations at events but we are ripping off them.
Before you’re gonna surrender your credit card to 〇〇books.com, let’s move on to the mainstream Japanese media.
What about official publications?
Streaming anime from certain sites is considered piracy for a few reasons. The anime is distributed without permission from the publisher, and from a profit-standpoint, the host site is getting the ad revenue instead, not the animation company, publisher, nor the TV broadcasting stations.
Before I say anything about supporting the animators and seiyuu, realize that they were paid during production, if I’m not wrong. Of course, should the loss/profit ratio due to piracy rises, the companies would want to cut losses by reducing the quality of the new anime and pay the producers less. Now this is why the audience ought to support the producers. (I sound like a PR rep.)
The ad revenue is not the only way where their income comes from. We have figurines, nendoroids, shirts, dakimakura and other physical goods that are licensed and endorsed. If you were to buy from your local Japanese collectible store or trusted online stores (See the ads at the top of the page and in the sidebar? Yep, that’s an example.), you’re much less likely to come across bootlegs.
Cheap and poor-quality crap is not worth your money if you’re a serious collector, and you’re not helping the legit producers either.
Same thing for manga. The mangaka get their income not just from the books they sell via publishers, but also from the collectibles that they’d endorsed. Light novels and visual novels? Yes, those too.
Before you call me a marketer, allow me to clarify my stand:
I’m equally guilty of piracy as you, and my only source of income is from my parents. I do by my principles, however, sometimes spend on dōjin goods. (See: Dat Youmu Game ; Check it up 妖！)
This editorial is as much as possible, neutral.
Right, let’s take a look at the survey results.
Seems like we’re quite divided over the issue…
Now, to interpret the results.
The majority of us would like to attend dōjin events, but due to language barriers and costs, we depend on the scanlators and other uploaders. As for anime and manga, I hope we realize that the industry players consider streaming anime and reading manga from certain unlicensed sites as piracy. Luckily, the long arm of the law (and big companies) has not catch up yet.
So, what have we learnt here today?
We’re all pirates in our own ways, and artists and producers deserve to be sympathized.
For the next post, I shall review a mythical dōjin music album that almost disappeared from the face of the Earth.
I definitely did not pirate it.
I should have posted these links for further reference earlier, but better late than never.
Some of these are good arguments.