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Police, Copyright Industry Raid Movie Subtitle Fansite 344

Posted by Soulskill
from the because-fans-wanting-to-understand-your-movies-is-terrible dept.
Swedish Pirate Party founder Rick Falkvinge reports that a fansite providing subtitles for movies has been raided by Swedish police at the behest of the copyright industry. "The movie subtitle fansite undertexter.se, literally meaning subtitles.se, is a site where people contribute their own translations of movies. This lets people who aren't good at the original language of a movie or cartoon put those fan-made subtitles – fansubs – on top of the movie or cartoon. Fansubbing is a thriving culture which usually provides better-than-professional subtitles for new episodes with less than 24 hours of turnaround (whereas the providers of the original cartoon or movie can easily take six months or more). What’s remarkable about this raid is that the copyright industry has decided to do a full-out raid against something that is entirely fan-made. It underscores the general sentiment of the copyright monopoly not protecting the creator of artwork, but protecting the big distribution monopolies, no matter who actually created the art."
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Police, Copyright Industry Raid Movie Subtitle Fansite

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  • Fuck 'em (Score:5, Insightful)

    by magic maverick (2615475) on Wednesday July 10, 2013 @02:19PM (#44241763) Homepage Journal

    Sure there is some copyright issues with translatins, but seriously, fuck the copyright holders, and the middle-men, in this case. And, of course, fuck the police.

    What the industry needs to do instead of this sort of bullshit, is to contract with the fansubbers, and pay them for their work. The fansubbers provider a much quicker turn around on translations and subs, and are doing it for the love of the work. What better way to make yourself look even better, than to not just tolerate, but to pay!?

    The fansubbers allow people to watch the media who would otherwise not be able to (due to not understanding the language). That's great. I wish them well.

    • Re:Fuck 'em (Score:5, Insightful)

      by sosume (680416) on Wednesday July 10, 2013 @02:24PM (#44241841) Journal

      Well, those darned Swedes were in a clear violation of U.S. Code Title 17, 102 and 106. Which is punishable with a fine of up to $150,000, they should have known the law. Which makes me wonder, does the EU copyright lobby organize raids on companies in the US? Would the FBI cooperate?

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        bullshit...

        "Subject to sections 107 through 122, the owner of copyright under this title has the exclusive rights to do and to authorize any of the following: ...

        (2) to prepare derivative works based upon the copyrighted work;"

        They didn't grant them the right to create this derivative work.

        One of the many ways that "intellectual property" is a fucking lie.

      • They do:
        http://www.dnainfo.com/new-york/20100818/midtown/port-authority-raids-midtown-perfume-wholesaler-hawking-counterfeit-goods [dnainfo.com]

        That's just the first one that came up in Google. They do this all the time.
        although, I'd argue this kind of raid is a heck of a lot more legitimate as they are actually ripping people off by selling them fake stuff.

        • Re:Fuck 'em (Score:5, Insightful)

          by ganjadude (952775) on Wednesday July 10, 2013 @03:55PM (#44242853) Homepage
          the people who buy from street vendors in NYC instead of the botique shops are not getting ripped off, they know they are buying fake goods. for some people spending 20 bucks ona handbag that is close enough to the real thing (sometimes better believe it or not) know damn well they are not getting the real thing when it costs 2000 bucks in the store down the road.
      • by DRJlaw (946416)

        Well, those darned Swedes were in a clear violation of U.S. Code Title 17, 102 and 106.

        Or, perhaps, Article 8 of the Berne Convention [cornell.edu], to which Sweden is a signatory [wipo.int], and Article 2 of the Swedish Copyright Legislation [www.ivir.nl], which implements the treaty obligation and states that "...copyright shall include the excludive right to exploit the work by making copies of it and by making it available to the public, be it in the original or an altered manner, in translation or adaptation, in another literary or artistic

    • by tqk (413719)

      What the industry needs to do instead of this sort of bullshit, is to contract with the fansubbers, and pay them for their work.

      Or, do their jobs producing timely translations of their own works. Then there'd be no need/call/market for fansubbers in the first place.

    • by KhabaLox (1906148)

      contract with the fansubbers, and pay them for their work.

      The post production company I work for contracts with a vendor whose business model is to originate closed captions by crowd sourcing. Basically you get paid per minute of video you transcribe via their web portal.

      In fact, all of our subtitle translation work is done via contracting, so there is opportunity for fansubbers to get paid for their work.

    • Translations have their own copyright. If commercial copyright studios make a translation later, they better not look too much like the 24-hour-after-broadcast fan translations, or they ar violating the copyright of the original fan-translation. However, there is a copyright on the original storyline and script. It just may or may not be that that copyright has a higher status than an "original" translation. The kicker here is that they are trying to have their cake and eat it too. Either it's an original w
  • I don't see how it's "entirely fan-made". Under current law, a translation of an audiovisual work's original script into another language is a derivative work.
    • Under current law, a translation of an audiovisual work's original script into another language is a derivative work.

      Surely I can't be the only one who finds such a law to fall under the category of "royally fucked?"

      Other than being an aspect of the profit-protection racket, what possible, legitimate reason would there be for that kind of legislation?

      • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 10, 2013 @02:28PM (#44241885)

        So that a company in another country can't, for example, take the novel you wrote, translate it and not pay you a cent.

        • You may have a point for things like books. But this is certainly not a case for movie subtitles. How many people do you know who will skip seeing a movie just because they have the subtitles? Even deaf people will want to see the visuals.

        • by kesuki (321456)

          yeah but fansubs are a community of people who have more time than money and they allow more people to enjoy the artwork, and in the case of anime it can resurect anime from the dead and give it new life, and are supposed to stop sharing when the official usa launch is announced. basically fansubs are unpaid critics of anime and do a better job letting their community know which anime to buy when it hits. fansubs are not restricted to the anime fans, and there are torrenters who ignore the 'until usa launc

        • by he-sk (103163)

          Exactly, you wouldn't want that. Which is why US publishers have always respected the copyright of UK publishers and paid them for their work. Oh, no wait, they didn't. In the 19th century, US publishers routinely republished UK titles without paying royalties. Only when US culture came to dominate the global market did they join in international copyright protection rackets^W schemes.

        • If a company is failing to serve a market, they should lose copyright in that market. Use it or lose it, but you cant lock up culture.
        • by Arker (91948)

          That's text to text translation, that is a derivative work. However a voice to text translation is not necessarily in the same category. An Italian translation of a book written in, say, German, is intended to replace that book for those more comfortable in Italian - most people would buy one or the other, not both. Italian subtitles to a German movie, however, are useless without the original movie. It's not a translation of any text anyone would ever actually read, rather it's more like a cheat-sheet for

      • by sosume (680416)

        To answer your question, what legitimate use can there be for custom subtitles for movies which have not yet been released to the public ..

        • Non sequitur - nowhere in TFS or TFA is it stated that the fan-subs were made for illegally pirated movies.

        • So, based on what you've said, translations shouldn't be allowed before the film has been released? Okay, I may disagree with it (I think you've entirely ignored legitimate uses that precede a public release while glossing over the fact that public releases oftentimes happen during the theatrical release these days; Amazon Instant Streaming has a number of titles that are currently in theater, for instance), but I can at least see the logic behind it. What about the other 98.6% of films though?* What legiti

    • by lgw (121541) on Wednesday July 10, 2013 @02:26PM (#44241871) Journal

      Sure, but the actual point of it all is that you already have the film (so you've paid). One more example of copyright law getting it completely wrong.

      • No, the actual point is that subtitles are derivative works - which require permission from the holders of the copyright to create. Which is an example of copyright getting it exactly right. You aren't allowed to muck with someone else's work without their permission. That's the whole point of copyright,

        • by jedidiah (1196) on Wednesday July 10, 2013 @03:10PM (#44242355) Homepage

          > You aren't allowed to muck with someone else's work without their permission. That's the whole point of copyright,

          No it isn't.

          The whole point of copyright is that we do have something to muck with. Copyright exists to foster what you would describe as piracy. It is not a virtual land grab. That's just corporate propaganda.

          No. The whole point of copyright is piracy.

          The corporations have just distorted things.

        • by lgw (121541)

          You aren't allowed to muck with someone else's work without their permission. That's the whole point of copyright,

          The whole point of copyright is "To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts". At least in America, creative control was never the legal basis for copyright, the basis was to benefit the public by encouraging new works.

          The common view now has become much more attribution oriented. People expect their Youtube video to stay up as long as they clearly identify the original work and it's creator, and get angry if they do that and their derivative work gets taken down. The law is just lagging the changi

    • I don't see how it's "entirely fan-made". Under current law, a translation of an audiovisual work's original script into another language is a derivative work.

      Perhaps true, but actually preposterous. I can invent a contrived language that maps the dialog of one movie directly into the dialog of another movie (at least if there are only two speakers).

    • by boorack (1345877) on Wednesday July 10, 2013 @03:01PM (#44242269)
      Or are you trying to apply corrupt US law onto Sweden ? There was similiar case in Poland (napisy.org) few years ago. Police raided site administrator and some folks who did actual translation. Then it tool 6 years for prosecutor to determine that those translations were actually legal because it was voice->text translation, not text->text, so it did not constitute derivative work. Yet prosecutors did everything in their power to prolong this case, so it took 6 years to close this case. From copyright cartel point of view it is mission accomplished: napisy.org is still defunct. Falkvinge is right that we truly have two-tiered justice system worldwide. It is totally corrupt, yet as long as people still get their daily fox-news-style crap-propaganda, everyone is apathetic enough to just get along with whatever fraud our corporate overlords instigate on us.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 10, 2013 @02:23PM (#44241829)

    Yet more proof that copyrights are NOT good for the public. They are only good for big media and other sociopathic entities with deep pockets.

    • by dywolf (2673597)

      Because allowing creators and owners of things to profit frm them is EVIL and a BAD THING.
      PROFIT IS EVIL!

  • Derivative work (Score:5, Informative)

    by Peter Simpson (112887) on Wednesday July 10, 2013 @02:25PM (#44241855)
    Sadly, you do require the copyright holder's permission to create one...which is sad if the creator of the original work chooses not to authorize it in your language. I can see both sides of this, but there should be a loophole for non-commercial works. There's no way the studio can show economic losses, and the derivative work is valueless in and of itself (without the original film).
    • Re:Derivative work (Score:5, Interesting)

      by ArcadeMan (2766669) on Wednesday July 10, 2013 @02:31PM (#44241919)

      And it's not only about language barriers but also about the disabled. If I were them I'd look up to see if there's any laws about making works accessible to the deaf. There's laws about government websites in the USA, surely there's a loophole somewhere about deaf people and movies.

      • This, this right here reveals a valid point. Region locks, limited releases, and so forth are supposed to be about geographical areas, not the language. If "Rocky 30" gets released in the US only, there is nothing restricting a Chinese speaking American from watching the film. Claiming that one is "making content available" to an audience who hasn't been permitted yet is a load of horse shit. However, since by some countries' laws content might be restricted, I assume the derivative works could potentially
        • by F.Ultra (1673484)
          It was not uncommon for DVDs here in Europe to have forced subtitles a few years back, apparantly they sold the distribution rights per country and didn't want people from say UK to buy a copy from Sweden (since they would be annoyed by the forced subtitles). So sometimes they use Language to create geographical areas.
      • A week or two ago, a bunch of countries signed an treaty that allowed for publishing materials for the disabled [ip-watch.org].

        So now various groups like HathiTrust (who won their lawsuit by The Authors Guild [michigandaily.com]) can now share their work with groups from other countries. Unfortunately, the treaty had been modified to exclude audio visual works [guardian.co.uk].

        It might be that individual countries still have laws that apply (eg, the US does, but they still might not've been in full compliance), but we don't yet have an international treaty

    • Re:Derivative work (Score:5, Insightful)

      by gl4ss (559668) on Wednesday July 10, 2013 @02:35PM (#44241981) Homepage Journal

      Sadly, you do require the copyright holder's permission to create one...which is sad if the creator of the original work chooses not to authorize it in your language.

      I can see both sides of this, but there should be a loophole for non-commercial works. There's no way the studio can show economic losses, and the derivative work is valueless in and of itself (without the original film).

      there should be loophole for partials. the subtitles aren't really that useful on their own.

      however all nordic countries have basically translator guilds which do sometimes hilarious work, but have been bitching lately how their unionizing hasn't gone all too well. problem is that spending couple of years in university apparently doesn't make good as good translators.. since they don't care shit about the material. fans do.

      some of the best subs I've seen have been for japanese stuff, with the translator bothering to mention texts, clues and culturally significant symbols as well.

    • by Pofy (471469)

      Sadly, you do require the copyright holder's permission to create one...

      No, not really, see, Swedish Copyright law 1 kap 4, you would even be the copyright holder of the translation. However, the exact same restrictions applies to your translation as to the original work. You are not allowed to make it publicly available (which the site did) but you can make it available for smaller groups and others can copy it and so on.

    • by Rockoon (1252108)

      Sadly, you do require the copyright holder's permission to create one...which is sad if the creator of the original work chooses not to authorize it in your language.

      Yet its a victory for things like Open Source.

      For instance, suppose I was to translate a popular LGPL'd JAVA project (LibreOffice, for instance) into C# or VB.NET. The LGPL restrictions would still apply to my derivative work, so I couldn't release my translation under a BSD license nor could I just release compiled binaries. I have to continue to respect the original license.

      What we see here on slashdot, judging by the comments, is that its supposed to make a difference if the original license was mai

      • This is the equivalent of tranlating the COMMENTS and hosting them separately from the actual code, IANAL but if I were Swidish, I would be pissed. As it is, I only watch Nigerian moves, so I dont care.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 10, 2013 @02:30PM (#44241911)

    I think that part of their motivation to attack such a site is that people using these subtitles are likely to be using them with pirated versions of the shows/movies. You can select your own subtitle file on many media players for the show you downloaded, however, things you are watching on TV/Blu-ray/Betamax do not usually have the option to overlay custom subtitle files.

    Mind you, this just lends more credence to the argument that legitimately purchased versions are often worse than pirated ones because they lack such functionality.

    • by jedidiah (1196)

      Companies that have tried to market playback devices that allowed for such tie ins with user created content have been litigated off the market. If not for abusive content companies, these subtitle files likely would be perfectly usable with DVD players from the likes of Sony.

      Of course with a general purpose machine (HTPC), you can pretty much do anything.

      • This is why i love my chinese made playback devices. $40 and it plays EVERYTHING, incl subtitles.
    • by F.Ultra (1673484)
      It's more likely that they want to protect their current practice of selling distribution rights to different companies in different countries, these companies then do not want me as the end user to buy from a different region and downloading the subtitling from sites like this. Having a subtitle and sometimes even having a forced subtitle on the DVD/BD is a way to create new regions inside the DVD/BD regional system.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 10, 2013 @02:31PM (#44241917)

    "We apologize for the fault in the subtitles. Those responsible have been sacked."

  • It underscores the general sentiment of the copyright monopoly not protecting the creator of artwork, but protecting the big distribution monopolies, no matter who actually created the art.

    The end result of this will be to destroy copyright. I give it 10 years.

  • View from Thailand (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 10, 2013 @02:47PM (#44242107)

    As a native English speaker living in Thailand for a few years, I can offer a prospective from this side of the earth. Legalities aside, the native Thai movies have English subtitles during the first run in the theater. However, when the movies are released on DVD, they do not have the English subtitles. They used to have them, lets say 5 years ago, but because of piracy of (Thai) movies abroad (read: Malaysia), they no longer distribute DVDs with the English subtitles. On a 'blockbuster' release, the distribution rights for other outside of Thailand will be picked up by some company, which will usually include the English subtitles, as well as the native languages for whereever it being distributed. As a consumer here, that means if I wish to watch a normal Thai movie here, I better see it in the theater, because nobody will pick up the distribution, hence, there won't be a DVD release with English subtitles. As far as the raids go, I can see why the entertainment industry doesn't like fan subs, at least from this angle. What I don't necessarily see is why they have enough pull to make raids like this happen.

  • Along with UK veto'd the discussion of NSA spying without informing their population [wlcentral.org], wiretapped Russia [falkvinge.net], and we know what they did with Assange and Pirate Bay. From a country that used to be proud of its defense of human rights the path to the bottom was pretty fast.
    • by tftp (111690)

      From a country that used to be proud of its defense of human rights the path to the bottom was pretty fast.

      There is a big difference between being proud of its defense of human rights and actually defending those rights.

      For example, the USA had no plans to defend human rights of victims of Luis Posada Carriles [wikipedia.org], or of Branch Davidians, or of Vicky Weaver [wikipedia.org] who wasn't accused of anything to begin with, and of Sammy Weaver who was shot in the back and also killed. All that talk about "defense of human righ

    • by gl4ss (559668)

      Along with UK veto'd the discussion of NSA spying without informing their population [wlcentral.org], wiretapped Russia [falkvinge.net], and we know what they did with Assange and Pirate Bay. From a country that used to be proud of its defense of human rights the path to the bottom was pretty fast.

      hmm where did you get that? the swedish freedom is the freedom to do nothing. there's even worse cases in past 12 years than what you provided though.

      their biggest human rights faults have always been being too trusting of the americans wanting to do the right thing, or germans, or whoever. heck, they sell offensive weaponry too, as if USA wasn't using it in offensive ways.

  • "It underscores the general sentiment of the copyright monopoly not protecting the creator of artwork, but protecting the big distribution monopolies, no matter who actually created the art."

    I'm not sure that outside of small bubble of people who don't believe in copyright at all (let alone understand the concept that others have rights in the first place), that such sentiment is general.

    • by jedidiah (1196)

      I think you will find that most people realize that they have rights and object to the idea that individual liberties should be subservient to the rights of corporations.

      Of course most non-enthusiasts won't realize what interesting things are being kept from them due to corporate lobbying.

    • by Arker (91948)

      s/don't believe in copyright at all/pay attention to these issues already.

      FTFY.

      If you want to tell me the two bubbles are essentially identical, I would not necessarily disagree.

      As the latter bubble expands, so does the former, generally speaking.

  • Please correct me if I am wrong on this - fans translate movie dialogue to something easily understood in a different language and load it up to a website where others can associate it with a purchased movie. Because more people can now understand the dialogue, more movies are sold. The industry, citing copyright infringement, raids the site and shuts them down. Now fewer people have the appetite to buy their movies because they do not understand what is being said. Good, sound business logic. Sounds
  • by Aim Here (765712) on Wednesday July 10, 2013 @03:56PM (#44242877)

    Heh, I've had experience with commercial film companies and fansubs.

    A few years back, I had too much time on my hands, and an itch to watch certain foreign movies that (then) had no publicly available English translation. Not to be outdone just because I was monolingual, I downloaded the films themselves from the internet, downloaded subtitles for *other* languages (French, Spanish and Portuguese) and proceeeded to convert the subtitles into English, using a mixture of google translate, perl, online dictionaries, hand-editing and mass rewatching of parts of the film, until I got something that looked roughly right to me, at the time. It took a pile of time, but as I say, I had too much time on my hands.

    When I was done I finally got to watch the film, then uploaded the files to some subtitle database on the internet in case others found it helpful, which apparently a few people did. No matter that what I did had a lot of wrong bits (the hardest part is catching local idioms, which aren't well-documented, even on a place as comprehensive as the internet).

    Fast forward a few years, and I spot DVD versions of one of these films on Amazon complete with English subtitles and buy it instantly. Finally, I'll get to see the film with properly translated subtitles, rather than some botch job by someone who didn't know what they were doing. And, of course, it turned out that the Korean company that packaged the DVD had just downloaded my subtitles from the internet, made some small alterations and slapped them on the DVD itself (sadly, not correcting the most obvious mistakes I'd made).

    Seems some of these film companies will happily take free fan labour (however shoddy!) and sell it on to paying customers without acknowledgement or royalty*, while others will send in jackbooted thugs to have you sent to jail. Such is life.

    *I'm not miffed about my work being used like this - I'm just embarrassed at the terrible job I did and hope the customers aren't upset by it!

    • by F.Ultra (1673484)
      Also it's not uncommon for the disc's subtitles to be in a far worse shape than the freely available ones.
  • by PPH (736903) on Wednesday July 10, 2013 @04:23PM (#44243197)

    ... "Close captions brought to you by ....".

    It's something the producers can sell. In the case of alternate language subtitles, they can extract funds from distribution channels and segment the market. Can't do that if everyone buys the region 1 version and adds their own.

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