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Scanlation: Distributed Manga 347

Posted by michael
from the comic-book-guy dept.
IronicGrin writes "Just alerting you to a story I wrote for SFGate.com about the emergence of manga as a cultural and commercial force in the U.S.; in addition to discussing the fact that manga has begun to appear on national bestseller lists (volumes of Naruto and Rurouni Kenshin both cracked the USA Today Top 150), I also discuss scanlation communities--that is to say, distributed groups that use the Internet to translate and distribute as-yet unlicensed manga works--comparing this form of culture hacking to other open source development efforts. Do you think the comparison is apt? How many of you guys read manga (as opposed to watch anime), anyway?"
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Scanlation: Distributed Manga

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  • Manga? (Score:4, Funny)

    by SpaceCadetTrav (641261) on Tuesday June 15, 2004 @06:10PM (#9435590) Homepage
    The guy from Saturday Night Live?
    • Re:Manga? (Score:2, Informative)

      by stiffneck (785847)
      Allow me to invite you (or anyone here who doesn't read manga) to download and read a manga [narutofan.com]. Try getting something from Chapter 100+ as the quality is better.

      And yes, I do read mangas, and in some occasions even find the mangas better than the anime (for stories that have an anime equivalent at least, like Naruto [animenfo.com], Midori no Hibi [animenfo.com] ...).

  • Donwload and Read (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ResQuad (243184) <slashdot.konsoletek@com> on Tuesday June 15, 2004 @06:11PM (#9435599) Homepage
    While I belive in purchasing the works when they come out in the US. I do download and read manga. For the most part is purdy good, translations are purdy good and the work is done reasonably well.

    I enjoy reading the manga after watching the anime myself, that way you get the little nuances and side stories in the manga that arent in the anime.
    • "that way you get the little nuances and side stories in the manga that arent in the anime." You're talking about the boobs, swear words, panties and nosebleeds right?
      • No. Granted if you look at some like "Thoes Who Hunt Elves" or other echi animes there is more nudity etc. But if you look at something like Love Hina, there is a huge amount of story in the manga that isnt in the anime. Like Haruka's previous relationship with the professor.
    • Oh, but sometimes it's purdy horrible. I've got all emotionally worked up on a very happy/sad/touching/etc scene several times before, while simultaneously remotely giving the translator the finger for being retarded.

      You can figure out the route the scanslations came in when characters' names start sounding Cantonese-ish, or when they start saying words like "Aiya" (hint: an interjection that's neither Japanese or English.) It's not hard to tell when a new translator is at work either for animes and manga
    • Right. And this exactly the difference between the Open Source and hacker communities AND the Manga community: as soon as licensing is picked up for a Manga, the community STOPS spreading it. Seriously, it becomes a ghost town and site ops proudly tell you to go to Borders and buy it.

      The Anime/Manga community has a deep tradition of underground trading but they understand that the continued development of new Anime and Manga relies on people buying the shit. This mix of consumerism and grassroots effort
  • Mainstream. (Score:5, Funny)

    by TLSPRWR (711680) on Tuesday June 15, 2004 @06:11PM (#9435609) Homepage
    Definately manga has begun hitting hard.
    I actually saw a girl showing off some manga books she'd just bought to her friends... who were girls!
    • by 0mni (734493)
      Were they speaking in japanese?, cause they may have just been guys dressed up in cos-play. I assume you didnt lift their skirts to check. OR DID YOU?!?!
    • Possibility A:
      Aliens kidnapped you and dropped you off in Tokyo and then brought you back and erased most your memory of it.

      Possibility B:
      Are you on drugs?

      Possibility C:
      Timespace folded over itself causing a distortion in the universe that allowed for such unbeleivable things to happen.

      Possibility D:
      You're just saying that to get friends.
    • My best friend is female. She must at least 100 or so manga, and thats not counting all the ones she has given away or gotten rid of.

      Its not that scary.....
    • Re:Mainstream. (Score:3, Interesting)

      by dasmegabyte (267018)
      Manga has always been popular among females because a) girls like cute things and b) manga exists outside, you know, video games and computers, areas in which girls are not known to flock.

      My only problem is that girls who like manga generally annoy the shit out of me. In fact, they are surpassed on my anime shitlist only by guys who say "Kawaii," "Kiree" or "Oro."

      Anime is generally a field full of annoyances and it's something everybody will eventually grow out of for that reason. I'm selling my dozens
  • by brandonY (575282) on Tuesday June 15, 2004 @06:12PM (#9435625)
    While there is a certain 'labor of love' comparison between scanlation and open source programming, and both involve alot of volunteer folks working on their own, that's about where the similarity ends. Open source is original work, and often it's an original idea. Scanlation is scanning in someone else's product and translating it. I think at one point translations were considered original work, but even if that were still the case, all of the artwork is still the publisher's property. Open Office is open source programming. Microsoft Office with a crack and a hacked translation into a new language is, while a labor of love, still outright theft. Anyways, where did I save that latest Trigun manga...
    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 15, 2004 @06:28PM (#9435819)
      I'm currently translating a manga for a friend, and I feel I should clarify what I feel is IP violations and what isn't. It becomes an IP issue when you redistribute someone else's work. Thus scanlations are IP violations, but I am not so sure about scripts, especially when there is no English version available. I think it's more like the Samba or Mono projects, where you are building from scratch something designed to interoperate with other people's code(intellectual property).

      In my case, a friend actually bought the Japanese version of the manga from Japan, and since there is no English version I am translating it for him. I do not feel that this constitutes theft, as the original authors got paid for their work, and the original work is not being incorporated into new work. Unless Japanese counts as a form of 'encryption' under the DMCA, scripts should be fine. :P

      Also, you should know better than to use the term 'theft' for copyright infringement on Slashdot :P
    • by serviscope_minor (664417) on Tuesday June 15, 2004 @06:42PM (#9435975) Journal
      Microsoft Office with a crack and a hacked translation into a new language is, while a labor of love, still outright theft.

      Been listening to the boys from the RIAA again?

      COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT IS NOT THEFT!!!!

      It's copyright infringement. That's different from theft. It has a different name too, so as not to confuse people.
    • by SuperBanana (662181) on Tuesday June 15, 2004 @07:24PM (#9436424)
      Microsoft Office with a crack and a hacked translation into a new language is, while a labor of love, still outright theft.

      Please don't misrepresent the manga/anime fansubbing/scanlation community to those who won't recognize just how ignorant you are. I know you think in black and white because of the way the movie and music studios have treated "piracy", but the difference between anime/manga studios and western movie/music studios could not possibly be any different with how they treat p2p distribution of their work.

      Fansubbers and now BitTorrent link sites(at least, the ones run by fans, not p2p-kiddies) usually have policies about licensed content; stuff disappears when it gets licensed for distribution in a country where the translated language is spoken. AnimeSuki for example, does not list a single licensed series, even if groups are making torrents available. Anime[mircx] has actually shut down until they are technically able to honor a request from ADV (a distributor) to not list ADV series, regardless of licensing. Many IRC Fserve operators delete series if their fansub group has a policy for doing so.

      Only one group, to my knowledge, has publicly gone against the requests of a studio or distributor, and that would be AnimeJunkies, who had an extremely poor reputation already (mention "mass naked child events" to anyone who was a fan of Ghost in The Shell: SAC and watch them giggle- it was one of their more famous mistranslations). AJ is, consequently, now almost dead- fansubbing very little, and shunned by most. I can't begin to describe the amount of hate that many anime fans had for AJ after a studio employee posted on a board the conversation she had with an AJ leader.

      Fansub groups also STRONGLY discourage selling of their work by putting in "NOT FOR EBAY, SALE OR RENT, FAN TRANSLATION" randomly into their works(ebaying CD-R/DVD-R copies of group's works was particularly popular at one point among sleazy individuals- profit margins are quite good), and they often include a message urging people to buy the DVDs when they come out- and from being on IRC channels a decent amount, a lot of people DO buy the DVDs, soundtracks, etc when they come out.

      The studios and distributors respect what the fansubbing community has done for them; they're fully aware they exist and they have zero desire to "do" something about them. You simply wouldn't have seen films like Spirited Away, and much of the stuff on Adult Swim come into the US if fansub groups hadn't slowly been building a market (or at least appreciation) for Anime. Further- the fansubs actually create more of a market for the DVDs and trinkets...not less.

      So, pardon me when I take serious umbrage at you stating that fansub and scanlation groups are thieves, because it's one of the most ignorant statements I've heard in quite some time.

      • "I know you think in black and white"

        Is it just me that sees the irony of this statement?

        Like everything else, fansubbing groups are not black and white either. While there are groups who do respect licensing and US contracts, there are plenty of others who do not. And we're not just talking about AJ here (although, they're dead so can't release anymore), but there are others out there who do the same things. There are also cases where legit groups will leak releases (especially for series that got li
    • by line.at.infinity (707997) on Tuesday June 15, 2004 @08:20PM (#9436903) Homepage Journal
      Having done translation before, I've read Japanese copyright law to make sure that I can distribute the translation legally. Basically copyright expires after fifty years* in Japan, and distribution of translation of copyrighted material is illegal without the permission of the author of the original work. Seeing how there are plenty of international agreements made, I'm sure copyright law regarding translation isn't much different in other countries. (Although I recall Dr. Zhivago being translated without the Russian author's permission, but I digress...)

      Publishers have to consider legal + PR cost before they can go on a lawsuit spree. Often times if illegal distribution can increase hype and awareness amongst consumers who also legally purchase copies, then illegal distribution becomes free advertisement, and publishers have to strike a careful balance. Illegal distributors should think about how to do their business in a way that gives the least incentive for publishers to go after them.

      * Expires after fifty years, but fifty years after exactly what depends on the circumstance.
  • by pavon (30274) on Tuesday June 15, 2004 @06:13PM (#9435640)
    It is true that in both cases people contribute their talent and labor to a collaborative project. But unlike open source software, you are building off of and distributing someone else's work without their permission. That is illegal, and is exactly what SCO is claiming happens in OSS but it doesn't.

    Not being able to read unlicensed work from other countries is a drag, and I don't particularly blame you for breaking the law when no-one is getting hurt. But it concidering how much FUD and confusion is already being spread by opponents of OSS, it really doesn't help for well-meaning people to muddy the waters with analogies like this.
    • You are correct in that it is technically illegal.. But then why do so many scanlation sites still exist openly?
      The answer is simply that untill the series is licensed in the US, You won't find a US publisher who cares.. On the contrary, they actually benefit from the practice.

      Without the fansub/scanlation community it's hard to say wether or not Anime/Manga would have even caught on in the US as it has in the first place. And when the series (if popular enough) does get licensed in the US, most scanlati

      • This comes from one of the US anime production companies:

        When a series gets licensed, generally part of that license is that the production company for North America helps stop illegal trading of the works here.

        Yes, it is illegal, regardless of whether you want to purchase the work when it is licensed and sold here. However, will a Japanese company who's solely in Japan bother with the legal fees to hire someone to act on their behalf to shut down a free trading spot in the US or Canada? Probably not.

        But
  • by ferrellcat (691126) on Tuesday June 15, 2004 @06:14PM (#9435655)
    I first read this as "Disturbing Manga", which makes sense, given that I've seen LOTS of disturbing manga!
    • Like the very first copy of Love Hina I picked up at Walden Books the other day... can't wait until my girlfriend goes through it! Haha, she had a few questions to ask about my new Animerica magazine...
  • by CrazyLion (424) on Tuesday June 15, 2004 @06:17PM (#9435686)
    This will likely go against the slashdot majority dogma, but scanlations have all the copyright issues inherent in fansubs. After all, they do disribute copyrighted work. There are on the other hand comminities that translate manga and release translations of it; i.e. a traslated script without actual manga images.
    You can buy japanese manga and with translations you can read it. Yes it's a little less convenient, but at least authors get paid for their work.
    • I prefer to buy the Japanese anyways. What's really shocking is, the price of the North American releases. These manga volumes come with a price of 300 yen or so -- in the past that would have been about 2 bucks, now its more like 3. Shipping, unfortunately, runs much deeper and will cost you 3-4 dollars per book depending on how many your shipping at once.

      Here's the thing:
      Even though more than half of the cost is shipping, it's still cheaper to buy the original Japanese. The mark up on the North Ameri
  • Hmm...well.... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by James A. S. Joyce (784805) on Tuesday June 15, 2004 @06:19PM (#9435716) Homepage
    ...I'm not particularly excited about these "Scanlation Communities". It's just yet another example of the Internet doing what it does best: forming small, highly optimized communities devoted to one thing, like the workers at DP proofreading public domain texts or the people at archive.org committed to putting new materials into circulation. Just because it's anime/manga/Japanmiation doesn't make it particularly special, but I'm sure it's just useful as anything else. This is what the 'Net is for.
    • Actually, fansubbing existed LONG before the internet in the form of traded tapes. It's just gotten a lot easier these days, without needing to sit in front of a character generated and SEG to 22 minutes an episode, then make copies of the tapes for $5 a pop in real time...
  • by Inf0phreak (627499) on Tuesday June 15, 2004 @06:19PM (#9435717)
    Without scanlations I'd never have (re)discovered what a wonderful game Go is. Thanks to Hikaru no Go, I got around to playing a little again (I still suck badly though). It has even been picked up, so there will be a US release of it. (Though I think I will still prefer Toriyamaworld's translations out of sheer habit).

    BTW, if you happen across a little gem called Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou, then go download it. It comes highly recommended ^_^.

    • *holds up his copy of Hikaru no Go vol. 1*

      The book just came out this past week or so... it's been running in the US ver of Shounen Jump, too. I had given up on Go for a while, but reading this for the first time inspired me to get my Go set back out and try to get good at it again.

      I've heard the anime will be picked up, any truth to that?
    • by funkhauser (537592) <[ude.yku] [ta] [2yammz]> on Tuesday June 15, 2004 @07:03PM (#9436209) Homepage Journal
      Yes! The Hikaru no Go manga is great. Having downloaded fansubs of all 70+ episodes of the anime, I was so excited to see the first volume of the manga at my local bookstore. Of course, being a huge fan, I bought the manga compilation, something I never would have done had I never seen the funsubbed anime.

      I think that parallels the music industry these days: I can listen to tons of music (for free, of course) on the internet. And when I find something I really love, I can purchase that album and see the band live, something I never would have done without having heard the music beforehand.

      I hope that's something that we'll see more of from here on out: people being able to peruse the massive amounts of media that the world's societies produce and put they're money into something they really enjoy, and not just a bunch of mass-marketed crap.

  • by yar (170650) * on Tuesday June 15, 2004 @06:23PM (#9435757)
    Interesting article. ^_^ I don't quite buy the open source "as Linux is to Windows" comparison, though... it's really apples and oranges IMHO.

    I've been interested in anime for many years- I helped found an anime club and am currently serving a local anime club (where I met my wife). We both enjoy both anime and manga. She lived in Japan for a year through the JET program (and I got to visit her ^_^), and she has developed a fair-sized (Japanese) manga collection. While I can't read Japanese, she often translates for me. I am just floored by the proliferation of available titles in English, though. The article was even more eye-opening in that respect.

    I haven't looked into the manga side (scanlations) so much, but I have been quite interested in the fansub legalities and ethics. I tend to view them in a similar light. Technically, they are illegal- but take a look at the flourishing doujinshi market and other fan-led efforts in Japan. They are very different types of copyright violation, but are technically just as illegal (debatable, but generally thought of as illegal through copyright and trade law)... That's an aside, though, I guess... ^^;

    At any rate, I view open source as very different for a number of reasons- open source is a legal response to a proprietary mindset via the GPL. The publishing industry is a different beast than the software industry. Scanlations, and fansubs, serve the purpose of the sharing of the culture/art, but are likely illegal, while open source promotes the legal sharing of software under a certain set of circumstances. Open source is "bought into" by all of the participants in the development from the creator on (barring silly SCO arguments)- that's one of the big differences right there. The author and/or copyright holder of the scanlation is not usually a participant in "the community." Are scanlations bad? I don't always think so, provided they hold to some general ethics, but I don't think they have the legitimacy that open source does. I don't know if the comparison is fair to open source. ^^
  • The author should think in the posibility of publish their works under free licenses like creative commons. The use of this kind licenses on these publications could make easier to know the new works of unknown authors, so this would make a more dinamic market. This is a new place to bring the filosophy of the free software. So why not?
  • Scanning manga... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Peterus7 (607982) on Tuesday June 15, 2004 @06:24PM (#9435770) Homepage Journal
    While it is very important to support the manga industry, it's also very beneficial to download manga. My usual method of acquiring new manga is downloading it, then if it's any good, buying it. Still, there are a few things to keep in mind:

    1. The manga industry is being outsourced. I don't know much about this, but it might be a good idea to keep an eye on this issue.

    2. Manga on the internet is often fan-translated. This is usually a good thing, as often the fans have more respect for a direct translation, rather than throwing out any cultural jokes that wouldn't apply overseas.

    3. Try to get manga for a good price. Manga is sold at ridiculously inflated prices in the U.S., so if you can, try to get a better deal.

    That being said, it's also a lot of fun to actually buy the manga. There's something quite charismatic about sitting on the bus with a thick little comic book.

    Still, if one walks into a Borders or Barnes and Noble, they'll find a large section devoted to manga, so the good thing is it's becoming more available.

    Oh, and I would like to second the honorable mention of Naruto. I'm currently reading it, and it's a really great series, both the anime and the manga. I highly suggest it.

    • 1. The manga industry is being outsourced. I don't know much about this, but it might be a good idea to keep an eye on this issue.

      Meaning that often the same fans you claim are better are sometimes the ones actually doing the translations for the commercial version.

      2. Manga on the internet is often fan-translated. This is usually a good thing, as often the fans have more respect for a direct translation, rather than throwing out any cultural jokes that wouldn't apply overseas.

      Pick up a copy of Excel S
  • by joe_bruin (266648) on Tuesday June 15, 2004 @06:25PM (#9435775) Homepage Journal
    Fandom: The Barbarians at the Gate
    - or -
    Yes, I still like Ranma 1/2

    (blantantly stolen without permission from here [tripod.com])

    It is an unfortunate fact about fandom, whether it be gaming fandom, anime fandom, or Linux fandom that it goes through stages:

    1. Stage One: A small group of people discover something that they like and think is fun and interesting. They form clubs based on it, talk to each other about references from it and generally enjoy themselves. Often, they will be persecuted by people who don't get it, "You're into that?!? How can you be into that?!?!" they'll sneer as they pass you in the street, at school or at work. This is also the evangelism phase, you try to convince people to become involved in the thing you are into. "The more the merrier" is what you think at this stage. In some ways, this is the best stage of fandom. There is a lot you have to do by yourself and normally a dearth of commercial support, but it is exciting.

    2. Stage Two: Some charismatic people become interested in what you like, unfortunately, leading the people who were sneering at you to think, "Oh! He's into that? Oh, maybe I misjudged it then..." (You'll see why this is unfortunate soon enough.) More support becomes available, so you don't have to do everything yourself. Instead of third generation fan-subs, for instance, commercial tapes become available. Maybe not the ones you want, but still, maybe good in their own way.

    3. Stage Three: This is the transitional phase, your hobby becomes well known enough that the mainstream media picks up on it, usually portraying it as a weird and evil sub-culture. Of course, this causes it to appeal to bored mainstreamers who want to appear cool by taking on the establishment (until they grow up to become corporate lawyers and/or investment bankers, natch.) These are the people who start showing up at your AD&D club meetings and when you suggest a game of Call of Cthuhlu for a change, mock you. They don't mock you because they know anything about CoC , but because "the name sounds goofy, man." You start feeling resentful as they try feeding your sixth level magic user to a gelatinous cube, and in my case you stop attending group meetings.

    4. Stage Four: Congressmen start talking about the evils of the whatever-it-is that you like, of course making it more cool among mainstreamers . Although the thing you like is more readily available now from a variety of commercial sources, it has been rendered palatable for the mainstreamers . All the rough edges are sanded off, and you get accosted by people who don't know that you used to be really into the thing who try to tell you how cool their bland, pallid version of the thing you used to love is. The barbarians are at the gate! People are overunning your hobby with the same predjudices they had back when it wasn't cool. They accost you at conventions and say, "You are into that!?! How could you be into that?!? This new is so much cooler than that. I wouldn't be caught dead being into that." Note: As always, you are not trying to force your tastes on anyone. In fact, because the quality of people you are meeting has declined so much, you try to identify the bad ones and just "smile and nod" as they pass you by. You are just trying to "live and let live," but the mainstreamers only want to appear rebellious, even though by their very nature they are conformists. Because of this, they will seek you out and try to force conformity on you, basically forcing you to hide your interests within a hobby from them the same way you used to hide your interest in the hobby from them.

    5. Stage Five: Everyone is into your hobby now... but it's become so palatable and mainstream that it isn't recognizable as the thing you used to love. You've since moved on to other things. Soon after this, it becomes uncool and people start dropping it. You still like the old things that got you into it in the first place, but you no longer mention it to
    • The person that wrote that sounds a little bitter. It sounds like a typical "I thought this was cool before you" post. And.... manga being "rebellious"? Wow, I thought there were more important things to be rebellious about than the choice of your comic book with requisite product tie-ins.

      I like manga as much as the next geek but it's just an entertainment medium used to sell other merchandise.
  • Is it really too much to ask to explain the more obscure terms used in Slashdot posts?

    I have no idea what Manga is and would not have cared to click the article if I knew what it was about before hand.

    Thanks,
    André
  • by CharonX (522492) on Tuesday June 15, 2004 @06:30PM (#9435844) Journal
    Scanlations actually act for Mangas, just like Fansubs for Animes, as a launchpad for Licensation.
    I severely doubt that Naruto or Hikaru No Go would have become licensed, if they didn't already have such an big fanbase in English speaking countries - they might have disappeared into obscurity outside Japan instead.
    The IP theft issue is not a real problem here - the artists like when their manga gets scanlated (after all, it shows how much it is liked). The publishing companies turn a blind eye to the scanlation groups, as they have nothing to loose (non-japanese Speakers wouldn't buy the manga anyways) but alot to gain (Getting alot of US fans = good chance that the manga gets licensed for the US) and most of the high-quality groups honor the request to stop scanlating licensed manga.

    Finally, here are a few intresting links to Scanlation Pages for those that got interested in Manga:
    Toriyama's World [toriyamaworld.com] produced high-quality Hikaru No Go and Naruto Scanlations until they got licensed, now offers e.g. Hunter X Hunter
    Snoopy Cool [snoopycool.com] offers alot of intresting Scanlations, like Yakitate!! Japan - a manga about beaking bread(?!) and many others.
    Enjoy
    • Its great fun. Typical tournament style, lets get stronger shonen stuff, but the strength lies in baking bread!

      I think my favourite is the guy who's not so good, and plagued by self-doubt - the 'hero' is a bit to perfect. Tha boss with the afro is cool, and the girl is really cute, and I feel sorry for mushroom head.
  • by base3 (539820) on Tuesday June 15, 2004 @06:31PM (#9435857)
    As a parent and Slashdot reader, I'm concerned that the obsession over Manga, particularly that obtained by violating copyrights, is a dangerous trend among teens and young adults. Once drawn into the hobby (the name of which is an only mildly concealed anagram for "GAy MAN"), young people begin to look for bigger and better fixes, until they're caught in the grip (pun intended) of Hentai tentacle porn.

    The U.S. Justice Department should use every means at its disposal, including exporting obscenity laws from less liberal jurisdictions as well as the new criminal copyright infringement laws, to see to it that as few youth are affected by this scourge as possible. Thank you.

    • including exporting obscenity laws from less liberal jurisdictions

      Don't do it!
      Last time the US exported obscenity laws to Japan we got Tentacle Porn
      I really don't want to find out what we would get this time!
  • Riiight. (Score:3, Funny)

    by BJH (11355) on Tuesday June 15, 2004 @06:37PM (#9435912)
    This sort of breathless fanboy tripe, that deliberately tries to blur the lines between legitimate activites (Free Software/Open Source) and illegitimate activities (scanlation) doesn't deserve space on /.'s front page.

    For example, here's one paragraph:

    The process is simple (now that personal scanners, Photoshop and the Internet are widely available, anyway): "Raws," or original copies of Japanese manga volumes, are scanned into digital formats; these are distributed via the Internet to legions of bilingual translators, who send rough scripts on to editors, who polish the language and then paste the translated dialogue into the word bubbles of the scans. After a quick quality-control check, the scanlation is ready for release via IRC (a worldwide chat network frequented by hacker types), peer-to-peer technologies such as BitTorrent or direct Web download.


    Let's take another look at that in "translation":

    The process is simple (now that personal scanners, Photoshop and the Internet are widely available, anyway,
    'cause these three things were invented to let ignoramuses like me ignore copyright): "Raws," or original copies of Japanese manga volumes, are scanned into digital formats; these are distributed via the Internet to a few fanboys who learned Japanese off the back of an instant ramen packet, who send completely made-up scripts on to semi-literate 15-year-old editors, who trash the language even more and then paste the now unintelligble dialogue into the word bubbles of the scans. After a quick quality-control check, consisting of showing the result to their dog, the scanlation is ready for release via IRC (a worldwide chat network supposedly frequented by hackers, but mainly used by wannabes, script kiddies and leeches), peer-to-peer technologies such as BitTorrent or direct Web download - although direct Web download is actually client/server technology, not P2P, but P2P sounds 1337er.

    • by Otter (3800)
      I dislike the "It's only piracy if you wear an eye patch! RMS said so!" folks as much as the next guy, but:

      There's similarity of legality and similarity of method. The argument here seems to be that this is another example of the Internet enabling distributed workloads to be caried out by loosely-structured groups. Seems true enough. (This also seems to be a case where the artists and publishers do genuinely benefit from the unauthorized activity.)

  • "While scanlators operate somewhat outside legal boundaries -- the works they're republishing are copyrighted and proprietary, and there isn't a penny of licensing money exchanging hands -- their existence is tolerated by the commercial publishing houses because, frankly, scanlators play the invaluable role of identifying new titles that are hotly in demand."

    Sounds like a justification, for every illegal form of trading to have come forward to this point. Where I will not fault, the folks for scanning and
    • Yes theft is theft, but copyright infringement is not theft. Theft = stealing = taking something unlawfully. If I copy something from you I have not deprived you of it, it would be illegal but not theft. Plagiarism is also not theft.

      And I hate that there's no recognized difference between "commercial piracy" and other kinds of "piracy". IMHO, there's a huge difference between selling bootlet movies and downloading/ripping/watching movies that you cannot purchase a copy of.

      While not applying to the mus
    • The difference is that Japanese publishers have a long history of tolerating, or even encouraging, this kind of activity. Doujinshi, for example, is unauthorized manga fan-fiction: entire comic books produced by fans using proprietary characters and openly published and sold. A great many manga artists got their start by drawing doujinshi, and the publishers have come to view it as something like a farm system for incubating new talent. A healthy doujinshi community surrounding a title is also seen as a
      • Fanfic (which is what you mean when you say "doujinshi"--many doujinshi are entirely original, with no relation to any commercially published work) and pirate translations are completely different.

        Fanfic is original work that uses existing characters and settings. Pirate scans are a simple copying and redistribution of the original artist's work. Fanfic is fundamentally creative; pirate scans are not. It's the difference between writing a new Star Trek novel and photocopying one.

        (Yes, translation is a
        • It's the difference between writing a new Star Trek novel and photocopying one.

          You just try writing and selling a new Star Trek novel without Paramount's permission and see what happens.

          I contend that the impulse behind fanfic doujinshi and scanlation is exactly the same: a grass-roots hunger for more of the material that's actually available from the strictly legal sources. If anyone's scanlating a work that's otherwise available in English, it's certainly not hurting sales much is it?

          But the proof in

  • by gwoodrow (753388)
    I'm all for culture jacking and sharing of entertainment. It bothers me that people like the RIAA and Jack Valenti of the MPAA are so fierce about preventing the spread of entertainment to other countries. The MPAA in particular has been rallying foreign governments to crack down on piracy of movies that aren't even being distributed commercially in those countries.

    If you're not selling your items in a certain area, does it really matter if there are pirated copies popping up in that area? It's not lik
    • What about when movie is in theaters and so company wont sell DVDs. Can one then download it b/c the only option is going to movie theater. Or before a movie is released (or in pre-release, so only NYC/LA have showings of it). Unfortunately, a lot of business models rely on delaying release of desired products. So should we just say fuck you, if you use that model or should our ethics/morals have to adjust for it?
      • I was about to answer your question, but then realized I already did :) ...
        The only thing that's touchy with anime and other such things is that it COULD be slated for licensing and redistrubutors would be cutting into their revenue. In that case, I say nay.

        But to expand, what I was saying was that if licensing IS already planned or being considered, I say nay. If the company says "No, we certainly will not be distributing this here," then I say go for it.

        If there is no access whatsoever, then I'm al
        • ut if it doesn't hurt their bottom line in any way, and if you're not doing any harm to the company or any individual, more power to you.

          Next question. What about downloading super pricey software that I would never pay for (since i'm a student)? it's not cutting into their profits, but I am freeloading. I think this is perfectly justified, especially when I have access to the software on a cluster I don't want to walk to/use b/c I have a laptop I want to do my work on.
  • Read? (Score:3, Funny)

    by irby (780146) <jason.irby@verizDALIon.net minus painter> on Tuesday June 15, 2004 @06:41PM (#9435967)
    Read Manga? I just look at the pictures!
  • by edrams (778721) on Tuesday June 15, 2004 @06:43PM (#9435987)
    I love that there is "A Manga Introduction to the Japanese Economy." Somewhat off topic, but from what I have heard, the Monty Python crew made short instructional films aimed at improving morale and efficiency in the office.
  • I read and archive manga by the Borders-load, and it's driven me into financial despair more than once - but for "Angel Sanctuary," it's more than worth it.

    A full list of my collection is here.

    http://www.tuxedojack.com/collection.htm
  • Samizdat (Score:2, Interesting)

    The comparison between this practice and open source is definitely not apt. It's exactly the kind of obfuscation that Ken Brown of the ADTI wants: this Manga distribution genuinely is samizdat.
  • Apt-get (Score:3, Funny)

    by Stevyn (691306) on Tuesday June 15, 2004 @06:52PM (#9436080)
    "Do you think the comparison is apt?"

    My first reaction to this story was "apt-get manga"? Needless to say, this has been a long day...

  • I hate reading right to left...
  • apt-get manga
  • by Eil (82413) on Tuesday June 15, 2004 @07:15PM (#9436325) Homepage Journal

    This sounds similar in spirit to what emulator and video game fans have been doing for years, only the video game translations are legal.

    In the post-Atari era (but before the PSX started making it big), an American-made video game was a rare and often horrible occurance. The only way the video games got translated for release over here was if the company thought that it would make a profit on the game and if it fit an "American" audience, which excluded almost all role-playing games.

    Once emulation of the SNES became feasible, dedicated bi-lingual fans began translating the games by themselves or in teams and provided binary patches against the non-translated versions of the ROMs. This can't be compared in any way to open source, as another poster compared the translated manga, because almost none of the translators ever released any of the tools or documents that they used in the translation.

    Video game translation is still a thriving community [zophar.net] today and is one of the best ways to experience some of the greatest games that never saw the light of day on these shores.
  • If by manga you mean pr0n, and if by reading you mean staring fixedly at one page for a few minutes, then yeah, I read manga!
  • Manga is dead (Score:3, Informative)

    by sakusha (441986) on Tuesday June 15, 2004 @08:24PM (#9436925)
    I was over in Japan last month, I was astonished to see how things had changed over the last few years since I was there. I used to see everyone in the subways reading manga, now NOBODY reads manga anymore, they're all doing email on their keitai (cel phones).
    I talked to some publishers, they admitted that the market for manga was collapsing, authors and inkers that were barely making money before the collapse are now getting out of the business.

    What will the poor fanboys do when there are no longer any new comic books from Japan? Better start learning Korean. Too bad that Japanese you tried to learn was a big waste of time.
  • The creators are not losing money in scanlation. Because people who do not read Japanese would not buy the books anyway. I've never read them, but I've certainly watched fansubs. And as I said, they're not losing money. I wouldn't buy it in raw Japanese because it wouldn't make any sense to me. Further, after watching said show I buy the little bobbles, the posters, the pillows, the nightgowns, etc... So they're making money off me that they wouldn't have made otherwise.

    Also, I was under the impression tha
  • The Matrix morphed so slowly and gradually into something like Powerball Z or whatever it's called that I never actually realized I was watching manga until the climactic Neo vs Smith battle where they fought in the sky like characters in manga often do.

    But it makes perfect sense in retrospect; the filmmakers even used a lot of japanese masters to help in the production, so there was already evidence the Wachowski brothers were heavily influenced by eastern arts.

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