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Anime News Editorial – Manga Gone Legit

June 16, 2010

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What happens when a scanlation site decides they want to quit performing illegal activity?
23 Comments leave one →
  1. MalditodelNorte permalink
    June 16, 2010 5:16 PM

    OpenManga seems interesting. I’m keeping taps on it to see if it’s gonna be similar to Flattr.

  2. June 16, 2010 5:26 PM


    The swift hammer of justice swings mightily over the heads of those self-entitled fans!

  3. Nifar permalink
    June 16, 2010 6:32 PM

    Here’s my thing: Why are manga publishers treating scanlation sites any different from a public library? In both cases, the publishers stop making money after the first copy is bought, and libraries are actually making money off of people who check out books through late fees and library card fees/dues, unlike most scanlation sites.

    To upload a translated manga chapter, one has to first purchase the original manga from the publisher, which means that the publisher does make money off of the venture. Then, once the entire process is finished and uploaded to the internet, publishers still make money off of people who decide that they like the manga series enough to go out and purchase it.

    As both a writer and artist, I actually support piracy to a limited extent, because I know that I get far more readers from me distributing selections of my work to sites that give it away for free than I would by simply publishing it and expecting people to pick it up by themselves. And as someone who both reads scanlations and watches anime via streaming sites, I know that the large majority of my purchases were inspired by me first discovering the series on the web, then deciding that I liked it enough to own it.

    As a final note to end my rambling on the benefits of scanlations, I would like to add that there are a wide range of manga out there that have no “official” translation in America, and in some cases are highly unlikely to be picked up by any of the American publishers, meaning that scanlation sites are the only way for those of us who only have a tenuous grasp on Japanese to read the manga. If scanlation sites were to go away permanently, then dozens of series would immediately drop in popularity because a goodly number of the fans would have no way to read them.

  4. June 16, 2010 7:00 PM

    That’s the thing, most fans of anything, have really bad entitlement issues.
    This reminds me pretty much of the reaction of possible buyers of Alan Wake when they found out the roll cage on a truck had a few less pixels than what the system was capable for, and dropped their pre-order, or anyone off any HomeStar Runner Forum talks about how “They’ll never return to the site” because the Brothers Chaps’ hiatus.
    Fans overall, just need to chill about these things. It sucks that I haven’t seen a New Homestar Cartoon in the past 2 months, and it sucks I can’t get some free Manga online anymore, but that I had that to begin with, should be more than enough for me, and really it is.
    As for a Roll Cage on a truck not having enough Pixels for the system? That’s just petty.

  5. Kari Dru permalink
    June 16, 2010 7:21 PM

    Hoo, boy. Shitstorm in 3. . . 2. . .

    Not from me. Right there with ya. I don’t read scanlations or stream anything illegally to the best of my knowledge. (The fact that I’m not entirely SURE demonstrates the depth of the problem.) As an artist myself, I appreciate it if my work is shared, but if I were never able to make a profit because of the scope of that sharing, I’d be pretty pissed.

    In response to Nifar- that’s the issue with this as opposed to libraries. It’s a scope thing. Googlebooks figured it was a library, and could operate as such, and the authors whose works were on it were never consulted. (They were mistaken.) This blew my mind. On what planet did ANYONE, even if they’re Google themselves, think they could just scan entire works of literature and put them on the net without a backlash?! Each individual public library may have several copies of a work. Each town has it’s own library. Eventually, popular books will need to be replaced. Less money is made than if everybody bought their own, but money is made, nonetheless. You scan something and put it on the net- that’s ONE copy sold for the thousands of people who will read it. (If you look in your library book and see the number of people who’ve checked it out in its lifetime, I guarantee it’s not thousands.) This will financially crucify the artists and writers we should be supporting. The unfortunate fact of the matter is if you can’t afford to do something, you will stop.

    The flipside- I’m totally in favor of finding legal alternatives. The only-for-ipad thing last week is annoying, but if cheap, printable copies were made available for regular computers, I’d buy those. If fans are willing to devote time and love to translation work, maybe a symbiotic relationship could be formed between them and the creators. This is probably just me being naive and optimistic again, but I’d like to think the fans and the creators could maybe find some common ground on this.

    • Nifar permalink
      June 18, 2010 1:19 PM

      Ah. Well thank you for clarifying that bit about libraries for me. I admit that is was my bad for not actually taking the time to look up how that system works.

      • June 18, 2010 7:51 PM

        Really? Well glad I could help and not sound like a jerk. Another thing about libraries is a lot of times, the publishers will offer a special “library edition” which is built to last and costs about 400% more than the regular edition. That’s another way they can make money from libraries.

  6. June 16, 2010 11:45 PM

    Oh Kari Dru, you’re my most favorite internet commenter at the moment. 🙂

    I can understand “trailers” for writing and artwork. I mean, didn’t Stephen King go digital for a few novels and I thought that was genius on his part, but it’s because he’s already a well-established writer. I’d like to think that highly praised manga creators could make a bit more money if they decided to move their work just solely online. Translations can be done and be more easily distributed.

    But I agree with you, Kari, that if fans are willing to put in effort with the creator to work out an alternative, that would be great. I mean, fan clubs still exist, right?

    • Kari Dru permalink
      June 17, 2010 8:23 AM

      Wow, thanks. That is so sweet of you. I usually suspect I am annoying people.

      The response to cheaply distributed legal digital media has, in other arenas than manga, been startlingly positive, and I think, really shines a light on the general decency of a large number of people. Stephen King is one example (and yes, that was totally a good move on his part), but webcomics and serialized novels by small time artists have been able to support their creators, as well. People will sometimes donate just because they like things. When Something Positive started to update less frequently, people complained, and the creator challenged people to donate enough to match his salary, then, and he’d quit his job and update more. They DID.

      I’m promoting a concert in my area that is part of a national tour by a couple of bands who are affiliated with a site called Bandcamp- and two of Bandcamp’s features are that you can stream entire albums before buying them, and the musicians can choose to let the purchaser name their own price. As a social experiment, Null Device, one of the bands in question, released their last album only this way, and made a killing. Some people paid more for the thing than previous albums had cost. This sort of behavior should be a heads up to other producers of media. Let the consumer have a bit of choice, and they may surprise you. I’d like to think most people don’t want to steal things, they just want easier ways to get the things that they like. (that said, Holy Crap! What the heck is wrong with the commenters cited in this video? Why is this attitude so different than the ones I’ve seen demonstrated in the western comics, literary, and goth music communities?)

      Winding down this novella, maybe the thing Manga Helpers is becoming will be exactly what we’re talking about, here. That would be awesome.

      • John permalink
        June 17, 2010 8:53 AM

        well the one down side about donating is that not many people from other countries rather than America can pay.. most of the fans that read online are teens and they wouldn’t have credit card to donate or even pay a shiping fee just to donate;; and i think thats the down side to the whole new idea of donating.
        also i believe that it may work considering that Gendou; a site that lets people download anime music and animes have donation box and they are still continuing. so there could be a chance for the new idea prosper in the web.

      • June 17, 2010 12:37 PM

        Are you kidding me? There’s nothing annoying about writing a response with context and about the same subject.

        I actually think the rate of people who like anime/manga are those that are older (have a credit card) compared to the number of teens that like anime/manga. Maybe it’s just me, but I seem to get the vibe that there are more adults, compared to teens, that like anime/manga, most likely since the adults were children of the late 80’s and 90’s who grew up with anime/manga.

        I also think it’s quite a phenomenon that people will donate money for something they really want to continue to see and grow. I’m extremely amazed at how far TGWTG has gone in just two years and much of it is because of fans who support and donate. I really wonder if this is will start something new with Internet usage.

        As you mention Kari, I also hope Manga Helpers is taking that path.

  7. John permalink
    June 17, 2010 2:27 AM

    its sad that they are taking mangas down;;
    I know that some might not agree with me but there are people that just can’t get their hands on mangas and their only way is to read online or down a torrent file.. I was in Italy for a while and i couldn’t wait for convention that held once or twise a year so i started reading online.. and i believe that there are those that are in the same shoes as i was.
    Now i live in a different country that sells mangas. as a result i have pokemon special manga from 1 to 33 volume, fate/stay night 1~9 and super radical gag family from 1 ~ 14. I am trying to get more but most mangas that i read online is never sold at the comic store that i go to.. one of them is Ubel Blatt(contains some nudity)
    its good thing that there are still few sites that does update mangas weekly and monthly.

    • June 17, 2010 12:47 PM

      I don’t think it’s so much an issue of being able to get it, so much as getting it for free.
      I mean, yeah, why pay if you can get it for free? Everyone wants something for nothing. But really, this isn’t a free lunch. It is piracy at the most, and “less than legal” at the least, no matter which country you come from.
      That is a search I conducted on Itallian eBay, showing a plethora of Manga. Some cheap, some for a pretty penny, and the one you’re looking for might not be there.
      Still, just because you can’t pay for it, still doesn’t mean you should steal it. Yet so many feel entitled to do so.

  8. June 17, 2010 8:35 PM

    I’m just going to comment instead of hitting reply since there’s a lot to reply to, now. I’m just going to warn everyone- I am about to turn 34. This whole issue makes me feel, and sound, like I come from north of one hell of a generation gap.

    John- why wouldn’t non- Americans be able to pay for things? Also, why wouldn’t teenagers be able to pay for things? When I was a teen, I had a job, and didn’t have to pay rent or buy my own food. That’s a pretty good situation to be in, one that I haven’t seen since I was seventeen (when I moved out.) There are a ton of reasons why being a teenager sucks and I wouldn’t go back to it, but for most kids with ready access to the internet and therefore scanlations, lack of financial security is not a huge concern. Sure, reading hundreds of titles a month would gouge anybody at the price of new, print copies, but maybe people should learn to PRIORITIZE, then. On the other hand, I’m optimistic about the prospect of legal scans sometime soon, anyway.

    This is going to be the bitchiest thing I’ve said online in some time but, I also think it would do the current generation of teenagers good to not be able to get whatever they want, for a while. ( I warned you I’d sound old. Get off my lawn!)

    LN- we live in a day and age where people think it’s appropriate to actually say things like “TL; dr.” This boggles me, but I’m used to people reacting that way to anything substantive, and I ramble. Anyway, I suspect the manga fans are somewhat split down the middle with regard to age. I know a lot of young kids who like anime and manga, and many of them are startled to learn that some adults are, too.

    And holy crap- of course TGWTG is a great example of what we’re talking about, here. Can’t believe I didn’t think to mention that. I know blip pays the bills somewhat, but I know people also are willing to help out to keep the thing going, in one way or another. Those who can’t, still get to use the site just fine. that’s an ideal situation, to me.

  9. John permalink
    June 17, 2010 11:09 PM

    Kari Dru- you have a point there, but i am currently living in Korea most people here are downloading through internet for free on clubbox or something or other sites that lets people download by using some kind of interent cash that can be bought through other things than credit card. Unlike Korea it may be hard for most teens who does not have credit card like you did.
    I am going 20 and I think that most teens won’t be able to pay unless they are in America. It is hard for teenagers to ask their parents to donate some money so that they could read mangas.. Not many parents are going to agree to that.
    Its not that i am disagreeing to what you are saying but there could be problems to it like every good idea has some flaws.

    LN- yes i believe that there are those that are adults that watch anime and read mangas and they can donate but what i am saying that the teens that are given the freedom to read manga for free wouldn’t donate(maybe i am not 100% sure but there will be some).

    CalebTheTimeTraveler- thank you for telling me that.. I completely forgot about ebay… I had bad memories with ebay.. What i was saying is that some mangas that are on the web are not sold on the interent like Ubel Blatt(one of my fav). most mangas that are sold online are popular mangas that are translated by the professionals(I don’t really know). The whole idea about online scaning is for people to read manga that are not translated. For instance Hunter X Hunter translated manga was halted in Korea and some other countries with no explanation and the only way for the fans to read is through piracy or online. Also online is for people to read manga chapters when they are fresh and new. People have to wait at least a month for a manga volume to come out translated or just plain japanese. There are more reasons why online manga site exist that I haven’t realized yet;

    finally i am not against the idea of donating. its just that it can have some problems and thats why earlier one failed isn’t it? But i am pro with the mangahelpers idea of donation.

  10. June 17, 2010 11:57 PM

    I KNOW most people are downloading, pretty much everywhere. The point here is that they shouldn’t be. I know it’s hard to have enough money to buy things. Dear gods do I ever know that. I know it’s hard as a kid to do what you want. But. . . we’re going to have to meet the producers of things that we like halfway. They are not obligated to give a crap if we can’t afford their goods, although if they are sensible, they will care and will offer viable alternatives. But if we’re not willing to work with them, why should they work with us? Why should they worry about losing fans if all their fans ever did was steal from them? We have to give them a reason to care about what we want.

    You seem to have this idea, John, that Americans can afford anything. That is just not the case. Sure, we’re still more prosperous than many other places, but we don’t have access to everything (especially not in the part where I am) and not everybody is well off. I know whatever I say at this point from the way you’re talking that you’ll shrug it off with the idea that it’s easier for me because I am in America. For the record- as a teenager, I could not have afforded ANYTHING if I didn’t pay for it myself.

    I didn’t have a credit card. I paid for things with checks or cash. The internet was a pale shadow of what it is now and the first time I had email was college, so not having a card myself was less of an issue than it would be now. Of course now, that checking account I got as soon as I could would have a debit card, so there you go. My mom did have a credit card she would let me use if I paid her back the same month. I KNOW I was a little mutant. My first quasi legal job was when I was 13 (not including odd jobs for my neighbors). Most kids wouldn’t bother, but maybe they should.

  11. John permalink
    June 18, 2010 1:21 AM

    well i do have friends that are wealthier than me and they are American, but thats not the case. I am saying that America has better options than most countries and thats what i wanted to say. you sir had a hard life which i may or may not experience in the future but if we want to stop ilegal manga scanning than we should first get rid of torrents. they are the most widely used for piracy. I do use it time to time but i am not happy about it( mostly for anime(jap/eng sub) even if mangahelper do suceed in this new idea. Other sites that are free may exist because evil are bound to be everywhere if you take a closer look.
    We should look at this new idea in all sides. There may be people that benefit from this and there may be those that loses something from this idea. This idea is something that should have done long time ago and it was but for some reason it failed. We may or may not know the future of any thing so we can just hope that this new idea can prevail.

  12. June 18, 2010 11:37 AM

    “I do use it time to time but i am not happy about it( mostly for anime(jap/eng sub)” but John, you’re STILL DOWNLOADING so guess what, you’re not really helping “getting rid of torrents” now are you? Can you understand why this “idea” keeps failing now?

    John, everyone, including teens, have the freedom to read whatever the f!ck they want and like Kari says, teens don’t necessarily give a crap about anything, just as long as they can get it. That’s how teens are so there needs to be some sort of collaboration. Would most teens actually want to donate money? Probably not. Would most teens want to donate money if they felt like they were benefiting from it, like getting free stuff? Yeah, probably.

    I’m also not sure what assumption you’re trying to make that “America has more options” in regards to torrents/manga. You’re downloading torrents in Korea, just like most Americans are; what other options is America having that you don’t have in Korea? And wtf is this “evil” that’s “bound to be everywhere if you take a closer look”?

    • John permalink
      June 18, 2010 12:29 PM

      What i was saying was that there are always a negative side to a new idea or invention. Like it always has been. Things like cars or even scanning. First it was revolutionary and no one really cared about the negative side to it. after a while they realize that there were some issues with the new idea.

      Also i am guilty that i am not doing as much as i can to stop people from torrents and other sites. But i gotta say that your assumption on teens are quite horrable. Yes there are teens like that but there are those that read and buy whatever they can. What i was saying was that those that cann’t will have problems with the new idea not the ‘teen’ in general.

      you don’t have to be harsh towards others.. try being calm and it will help others better..

      And yes i get your points well. I really didn’t want to say America in general but countries that have more freedom than others.

      Yes i am obliged by the fact that i am downloading a pirated anime.. What should i do to watch some anime that i like? If i can buy it sure i will DEFINETLY buy it but I can not… People make mistakes, takes a wrong turn.
      LN- I don’t know who you are or where you live but there were times that you have done something that isn’t moral. Who hasn’t. Rather than criticizing others try to give them solution to their problem. I am trying not to download pirated things as much as I can. If you have a solution to my problems and others plz tell us rather than criticizing us..

      Rather than arguing one an other shouldn’t we try to find a solution to a problem for those that can not afford to donate?? That’s what i wanted to know. Not how wrong I am…

      • June 18, 2010 7:12 PM

        John, I’m not being harsh; I’m just telling it to you like how I’m reading it. You say you’re guilty for not doing as much as you can for trying to stop people from using torrents and other sites, but you’re part of the problem too because you’re using torrents. You’re saying you wish there were some other option for you that you won’t have to resort to torrents, so here’s my option for you:

        1) Stop using torrents
        2) Save some money
        3) Go to sites that sell anime
        4) Order some anime
        5) Get it in the mail and watch it

        Also, if you can pay your bills, even sparing a dollar or two for donation should be possible. I’m very much on the same side with Kari about online sites lowering the purchasing price for manga. This could happen with anime as well so people won’t necessarily feel a huge crunch in their wallet if they just donate a dollar here and there.

        Of course I make mistakes, but I don’t consistently make them. I will admit that I’ve also used torrents before but I don’t any more because I’ve found other options. Is it life and death that I must absolutely watch an anime that I can only get from torrents? No. I’ll be tempted and eager to watch it, but there are other anime out there that I can get legally. It took a while, but I’ve actually managed to save money for two months that allowed me to by the entire box set of Cowboy Bebop (and I didn’t even have a job).

        And of course, everything comes down to money. Realistically, if you can’t afford to buy anime or afford to make donations to support the industry, get yourself a lot of friends that do have the money to do this so you can borrow their anime. I’m saying this not out of spite or anger; I’m saying this as a realistic option because you’ll have yourself a networking system that lets you share/trade anime. I did this with my anime buddies all the time and we even pooled our money together sometimes to buy anime.

        But it seems like there is something that’s being done now to get these illegal sites off, and getting sites that will have consumers becoming more involved with the industry in a legal way which I’m all for as well.

  13. June 18, 2010 1:08 PM

    I didn’t mean to say that “oh poor me, I had a hard life.” I HAVE, but my constant employment is certainly not why. I’m just saying, teens have options, like anybody has. If people want to be able to afford things, they may have to do it themselves, whatever their age. And referring to my original point- affording things is actually easier if you don’t have to choose between luxuries and food that week.

    Will people be able to legally purchase the number of books they are used to reading? Probably not in many cases because people are reading EVERYTHING good or bad since they didn’t have to be selective. But, in literary circles, you can often buy a PDF of a book for much, much cheaper than you could buy it if the publisher had had to print it themselves. That’s what I am hoping to see happen to manga. If the titles cost less, then more people can afford them. Then also, people who can’t afford to buy everything they want to read can exchange with their friends who bought different titles- much like my fellow comic book nerds and I have been doing for decades now.

    Anyway, it does look like the illegal sites are on the way out, which I’m in favor of. I don’t want to see the industry die, and if changes have to be made to keep it alive I think we should embrace those changes (as long as we don’t have to buy an ipad to do it.)

  14. Nifar permalink
    June 18, 2010 1:34 PM

    As a side note, I’d love to see some kind of collaboration between the foreign comic producers and the English translators. As I mentioned earlier, there are tons of series that scanlators translate that American publishers won’t even touch, like Franken Fran for example. That’s a great series that is no longer being translated because the scanlators were forced to stop, and I highly doubt anyone (except for maybe Dark Horse or some indy publishing company) will pick it up and import it to the States.

    Instead, what should have happened is that the Japanese publishers/creator(s?) 0f Franken Fran worked out a deal with the scanlator(s?), where the scanlator(s) would be the official translator(s) for an English-language .pdf format of the manga, to be released by the publishers for sale on their site. That way, everyone profits, instead of Franken Fran becoming inaccessible to those of us that don’t understand Japanese well enough to read entire volumes of manga.

    • June 18, 2010 7:52 PM

      Oh, actually Dark Horse has done things like that in the past. Maybe you should suggest it to them? I’m not sure how one would do such a thing.

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