Post Reply Manga LLPS (Licensing, Localization, Piracy and Scanlations)
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99 / Wild West, North...
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Posted 7/29/14 , edited 7/29/14
First off, I sincerely apologize to the Forum Admins if this is a very sensitive item, and I would understand if you will need to take it down. I would really like to hear people's opinions on this matter.

So, last night, I saw this article on CR:

http://www.crunchyroll.com/anime-news/2014/07/28/japanese-government-to-start-anti-animemanga-piracy-operation-next-month

This discussion isn't about anime, since anime already has an audience in the form of manga/light novel/video game fans (for adaptations), or fans of studios/artists/directors/producers (for originals). There is also much less anime running in the air at the moment than manga in print at the moment. Moreover, if the content is available in your region, you can support simulcast services like Crunchyroll, and get episodes either for free, or for a reasonable price.

My main concern is about manga, what manga gets distributed, and what happens to authors of manga who are not super popular/super successful.

To be clear, the Japanese government, and the publishers are not legally wrong in what they are doing; international intellectual property rights says they have a right to stop people from stealing their property. Moreover, a good number of sites who upload manga also do it against the wishes of the scanlators who produced the scanlated content. Finally, the practice of scanlation is without a doubt illegal by international intellectual property rights, and always support the official release if possible.

Personally, what I would like to see is the government, the publishers and the licensors reaching out more to scanlators, and offering partnerships to bring manga faster overseas. A chief problem with bringing manga here is that, unless you're Ken Akamatsu, and Kodansha knows UQ Holder is gonna sell, licensors are usually unwilling to bring over new manga by an unknown creator. And when licensors do bring the title stateside, it's usually several years too late (Akame ga Kill took 5), and they have the scanlators and the scanlation readers to thank for spreading the word of the series' quality. Perhaps the publishers can use the scanlators as a test for the manga's popularity overseas by contracting them to localize the first 5 chapters, and then releasing them online through legal channels? If anything, the ad revenue and/or $1-2 per chapter is still a lot better than not getting any revenue.

The main concept here is to provide a reasonable value to consumers so that they'll convert to legal means of getting manga, as well as changing the dynamics where the community first learns of a series through scanlations. Crunchyroll has convinced me to stop using fansubs altogether because it is a reasonable expense that offers anime on a reasonable time frame. I wish I could say the same for manga, but the fact of the matter is that there is way too much manga out there that is only available through scanlations, and I think the publishers need to see that bringing a sledgehammer to the entire process only leads to destruction.
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Posted 7/29/14
First of all, great topic to discuss!
Now, although I agree with you it is majority who decide things. In this particular thing owners, publishers, etc. are the majority. I am fortunate enough to own over 280 comics/manga, few dozens of movies, and few games all of them are original (some of them are quite rare). There are numbers of them I firstly find out on the internet, because I live in the country where even Naruto and One piece are rare (two of most popular manga in the world). So, I understand everyone that have need to get them new chapter (I got addicted to Black Lagoon manga so you know how it is), because who have patience of Job? And question is how?
So than we have scanlation, piracy and other that provide stuff for the people who are in need. As much as I know none of the pirates or scanlators make any profit of it whatsoever! Real question we need to ask ourselves is - what is real reason of anti-piracy laws? Is it really just to protect someone work? Imagine Tesla is still alive. He would own everything. If he decide to take his invention we would live in stone age. Or DaVinci. How many times you see Mona Lisa displayed on almost everything. Or any original creators that lived years ago.
I understand need to protect someone hard work, but there are always right way and wrong way. And I don't think this
http://www.crunchyroll.com/anime-news/2014/07/28/japanese-government-to-start-anti-animemanga-piracy-operation-next-month the right move. So, that is just my opinion. There will be someone who agree and then someone who disagree. That is just way it is.
elux72 
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Posted 7/30/14
Your post makes me think about my own views on reading manga, and how they've changed recently. I've completely stopped reading any manga that isn't legally available for streaming and/or purchase. The same goes for anime, by the by. There are tons of series I'd love to read, but until they become legally available, that won't be happening. I suppose I could travel to Japan, buy up tons of manga, bring them home, learn Japanese, and read them, but, as fascinating as this would be, it won't be happening anytime soon. Basically, I've stopped buying into the argument that it's okay to read illegal copies of manga because they'll 'never be available in my country'. That's entitlement thinking. If it's not available and/or you can't afford it, too bad.

However, as you pointed out, if there was a possibility of Japanese creators partnering with foreign translators and distributors to make more content legally available, I'd be all for it. I doubt,though, that they're overly concerned with non-Japanese audiences.

I was sort of faced with this whole situation recently when i finished reading the fourth (legally purchased) volume of Future Diary. Those were the only volumes this particular retailer had, and I wanted quite badly to continue reading. Naturally, the remaining volumes are out there somewhere on some illegal site, but I happened to be searching on iBooks, and, lo and behold, all the remaining volumes were available in French! Luckily enough, my French is passable enough to get by, so I'm glad there is another legal avenue after all.

It'll be interesting to see the effects of this crackdown, and what sites go down and then up again 'under new management'.
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Posted 7/30/14
A nice thought, but unlikely to happen. A large publisher is unlikely to try engaging with random non-professionals for their titles. The vast majority of scan groups are nowhere near passable quality when it comes to making a semi-professional release. And scanlation survives often on the basis of "we'll release it when we have time/feel like it" -- there would be deadlines for stuff. It wouldn't pay nearly enough to have people do it full-time or organize their schedule around.

It would also require considerable resources on the part of the Japanese publishers to have liaison staff to keep in contact with everyone. Japanese companies aren't know for having fluent English staff in excess supply, especially for non-corporate negotiations like this.

There also wouldn't be much of a market. It would only happen digitally, and the US market for manga is about 5% the size of Japan. So take some niche title that only sells 10k copies in Japan -- you would only expect maybe 500 or less in the US. And most people still prefer reading manga in paper format, not digital.
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Posted 7/30/14 , edited 7/30/14
More details here:

http://www.crunchyroll.com/anime-news/2014/07/29/details-of-japanese-governments-manga-anime-guardians-project

Manga-Anime site here:

http://manga-anime-here.com/list

At the moment, I think it's best to wait and see what happens after the government and publishers are finished with their operations, and see the impact of those operations. What I will say, though, is this:

1. You can't win a war against the rules of supply and demand. If a demand exists, and you don't provide the supply, someone else will.

2. You can't win against the rules of capitalism (superior products and value always win). As I stated before, I chose CR over bootlegs principally because it was a better value proposition. As wise businessmen of tenure, I think the top brass of manga publishers should look beyond the local market and offer us a better value proposition that scanlators.


There also wouldn't be much of a market. It would only happen digitally, and the US market for manga is about 5% the size of Japan. So take some niche title that only sells 10k copies in Japan -- you would only expect maybe 500 or less in the US. And most people still prefer reading manga in paper format, not digital.


I think that the "more people prefer physical" and "there won't be much of a market" arguments are fundamentally flawed. First of all, it's myopic to only look at North America. Markets in all other parts of the world, particularly Southeast Asia, South America, and Europe are grossly underserved when it comes to manga, and can only access contents online. I can 100% guaran-dang-tee that the vast majority of manga consumers worldwide would rather get their manga via reasonable legal access rather than have to rely on scanlators. And since digital distribution is not only cheaper, but a more accessible medium, I'm sure that more people would appreciate that. There are still those who prefer physical, but the plain fact is that servicing both physical and digital customers would mean more income for the publishers.

Which leads me to my next point: it can be reasonably argued that the lack of a strong manga market not only in North America, but in the world as whole, is a result of poor exporting, licensing, and localization policy and practices, not the other way around.

There should be no reason why Akame ga Kill, whose anime is airing now, and whose manga's first tankoubon volume was release five years ago in Japan, would only get a volume 1 release in North America in January of 2015. By that time, everyone who has watched the anime has moved on from it, and anyone who has read the manga has gone through the majority of the chapters and have had their interests drawn by something else. Games can be localized within months, Movies can be subtitled along post-production, and Crunchyroll simulcasts anime within days or even hours of the Japanese broadcast. I don't understand what makes manga so special that licensors require years to pick up a title, and then even more to release the volumes.

And that's not even going into how the tankoubon format does not work that well overseas. I get it that the Japanese market has different... ways of selling things (they still sell single songs in CD's, and 2 anime episodes for the price of one season of Game of Thrones), and exclusivity is a big thing (the only explanation why Johnny's Entertainment would hold an Arashi concert in Hawaii... and it's only for Japanese fans living in Japan, who have to fly to Hawaii to attend a concert). But that kind of practice is nonsense to the overseas market, whose demand is "Access Now, Access for Cheap, and Access to Choice". I believe that what Viz and Square Enix are doing, in publishing their titles online, is a great start, but we need more people to publish content online. There are a lot of titles out there to read and enjoy, if only the publishers would allow us to read it.


It would also require considerable resources on the part of the Japanese publishers to have liaison staff to keep in contact with everyone. Japanese companies aren't know for having fluent English staff in excess supply, especially for non-corporate negotiations like this.


Given that the report talks about a $5 billion loss in revenue as a result of anime/manga piracy, I think a few hundred million dollars spent in localizing and developing legal access to content for overseas customers is a very good investment and return in value for each company. Even if you post up manga for free, just the ad revenue from hosting such sites is an opportunity that publishers should jump on. Heck, you can even cut the middleman; as a Japanese company, hire scanlators directly, as I previously proposed, and you can pay them on a contract basis.

As I previously said, you can't win a war against the rules of supply and demand; but you can hedge the odds in your favor.
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