Fujojocast #6 – Shipping wars, doujin scanlations, and the IP blocking mess we’re in


Perhaps this is the first “breaking news” podcast I’ve done. Not that this is completely breaking news but it, nonetheless, an interesting development in things that we do in fandom.

Last week, there was a bit of a stir when it was made public that a particular scanlation group has said that they’re blocking Japanese IPs so that publishers and doujin creators can’t access their works. Clearly, this doesn’t sound right on all angles but in this podcast, Nellie, who works for Crunchyroll and is an editor genre fiction, discusses with me the complex story that arises from this decision of said scanlation group as well as discussing the complexities we face as fans of Japanese animation and manga.

Some of the things we definitely discussed is the protective attitudes and measures of artists and with regards to the fan works which goes on both ends (Western fandom side and Japanese fandom side). You might have seen pages or websites with the mark OFP which is Online Fanarts Protection group (now defunct). If you want to consider the economic states of doujin artists, you can read this research on how much doujin artists make in Comic Market. Or maybe you can also see the problems of Manga artists too. And for those who are thinking of permissions, here are some things that can help in case you are lost in translation. Asking permission does make an artist happy. Of course, stealing and sharing it a whole lot early can make artists mad, as is the case of Yamamori Mika’s page leak for Hirunaka Ryusei.

OP/ED – Rage On! by Old Codex (Free! Season 1 TV Opening)

In the end, we are in a conundrum, finding no real solutions (although honestly we hope that attitudes DO change). Personally, I’d love to hear every one’s comments on this. But let’s not make this a bashing of the group or that scanlations is wrong but rather really open up discussions on fan attitudes and what needs to be changed so that we can meet fans and content producers in Japan halfway. 

If you wanna tune in our future discussions, we’re in also ITUNES now, so feel free to subscribe!

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4 thoughts on “Fujojocast #6 – Shipping wars, doujin scanlations, and the IP blocking mess we’re in”

  • Thanks for an interesting podcast that provided me with lots of food for thought. I myself am generally anti-scanlations of doujinshi, although I realise that the issue is complicated. My reasons have nothing to do with piracy or intellectual property rights, and is one that you don’t seem to touch on much in the cast: courtesy among fellow fans. In the same way that I wouldn’t upload a copy of a fancomic/fic written by a fellow Western animanga fan even if it were only available in paper copy or behind password-lock, I wouldn’t scan a doujinshi, without asking permission first. It would be rude.

    I came round to this way of thinking quite recently, and I believe that people with my sort of view are on the increase. Because of twitter, pixiv and tumblr, Japanese fans and non-Japanese fans are increasingly occupying similar spaces online, and the creators behind the works are becoming much more visible than in the past. As a result, people are becoming more protective of the fan-creators whom they consider ‘one of them’ or even friends. We care about nebulous things such as their “feelings” – not just that they may be hurt or angry, but also how they view us. I don’t want my Japansese counterparts to look at us and see nothing but unpleasantness. I’m not surprised people hold different views for the scanlating of fanworks and commercial works. Anyway, as Khursten mentions in the cast, asking permission is really not that hard. Why assume they will say no?

    By the way, this issue may have began with a ship war, but I feel the reason it spread so much (it was all over my dash even though I’m not in the Free! fandom), was because the IP blocking crossed a line for many. Blocking off one country is pretty unpleasant in a way that passlocked communities never would be. People were bound to have an emotional response.

  • I usually steer clear of the topic of unofficial translations in practice, because my views are contrary to many. Also, a lot of the people that say they want to talk about it, don’t actually want to talk about it, they just want to shout the opposition down. It’s a touchy subject for a lot of people for a lot of reasons.

    For the publishers, if they didn’t think it was doing damage to their profit margin, they probably wouldn’t care as much. Of course it’s not as simple as “if you can’t beat them, join them,” but I think that rather than whine about an underground industry that’s been around longer than some of them have, their energy would be put to better use working on ways to either compete with it or make use of it. And not like DMG. They had the right idea, but they have several things going against them. Putting aside their compensation model, their quality standards are too low, their release schedule planning is completely lacking rhythm, and they don’t know how to interact with their readers.

    The latter is a problem for a lot of manga publishers. It’s fine to hire someone who knows the ins and outs of manga and has a passion for it, but that doesn’t mean they should be the face or voice of your company. Some people lack decorum and many haven’t the first clue about customer service and I’m not speaking as a customer, but as someone who has been in some form of customer service since her first job. To be quite honest, I’d fire most of the publisher reps I’ve encountered, that or move them to a position where there’s less of a risk of them burning bridges and damaging the company’s customer relations reputation. This goes far beyond the debate on unofficial translations. From some first hand and spectator experiences, I’ve often been left with a bad aftertaste. I’m sure I’m not the only one.

    On the fan side, I think people need to stop kidding themselves. It’s become a gray area because it takes a lot of effort and resources for publishers to fight it, but regardless of anyone’s intentions, it’s illegal. To me, if it was truly about making people aware of the mangaka and their works, and spreading the love, then the time and money spent on the whole process could be directed towards doing a selection of chapters/titles and using those to teach the fans Japanese and guiding them along the way to buy their own. It’s the whole give a man a fish scenario. But that’s not what happening. Teams continue to spoon feed the masses and the masses have grown grievously complaisant.

    I’m not saying that everyone learning Japanese will solve the problem or that teams don’t have the intention to spread the love, or that there aren’t middle grounds and exceptions, but if the primary reason for releasing unofficial translations was to express appreciation for the mangaka by increasing their readership, wouldn’t have external hard drives full of scans and the profession of mangaka would, by now, be a well-paid job for more than just a handful. Because increased readership should also translate to an increase in dollars that the creators see. Admiration is great, but it doesn’t put food on their plate.

    Personally, I think the IP blocking is extreme, but not at all unimaginable. I’d never do it, but that’s because something like that is very close to the apex of what I like to call my hierarchy of leniency. It’s like Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. The foundation is that I know that it’s illegal. Beyond that is basically how far I’ll go with it. Where do I draw the line? What’s acceptable to me and which principles I am applying to it or excluding from it. Everyone has one, it’s just that not everyone’s is built around piracy.

    People look down on pirates, but most people do similar things in other areas of their life. A person might download a ripped movie, but never consider buying bootleg. But why? From my point of view, it would be because the content pusher doesn’t (usually) make any money off of the download, but the hard copy bootlegger would and convoluted as it may seem to some, not giving money towards piracy is the line that person may have drawn. It’s like a clause of the honor (code) among thieves.

    The people who continue to run red lights, refuse to come to a full stop at stop signs, or have all but completely forgotten about using turn signals are just as guilty of breaking the law, but they think that’s minor compared to what’s involved in piracy. It’s mostly because they don’t readily associate a price tag with what they’re doing unless they get caught or if being late to wherever they’re going (like work) is going to cost them money. And while they may not see a price tag upfront, what they should really be concerned about is the toe tag that may need to be written as a result of them abiding by their hierarchy of leniency.

    As was mentioned in your cast, you can’t make scans look good. And it will continue to be a point of contention for the foreseeable future because not enough people are working towards a solution.

    This is much, much longer than I like to write on anyone else’s page. There are a lot of other things I could say, but this is where I’ll end it. Thanx to you and Nellie for the cast; it was great. I think it should be talked about more, but I suppose you’d have to find more people who are actually willing to talk (and not shout) about it.

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