I’m getting a lot of angry comments from folks from Kotonoha these days, as a response to my post on my entry for Gunjo. The main accusation appears to be “how dare you, you’re friends with Lilicious and so you are playing favorites.”
I want to address this issue, mostly to provide a permanent link for the next 3,000,000 times it comes up.
I do not support scanlation of material that is currently in print or available for sale – in any language.
In general, I believe that you have no right to entertainment and if a book is licensable or licensed, scanning it does not “help build an audience.” Things might have been different a decade ago, but now, the justification for scanlation is primarily ego on the groups’ side and desire to get something for nothing on the leechers’ side.
The folks at Lililicous know my opinion on this. I have no influence or control over what they do. I am friends with them, but we do not see eye to eye on the matter. I have made the point many times on their IRC channel in hopes of educating people who are not aware that they are violating copyright or hurting individual artists by doing this.
The reason for my post about Kotonoha was because they linked to my review of Gunjo and I suddenly got many new visitors to the site from there. It seemed sensible to let visitors from there know that I do not support scanlations of licensable material – which might be implied from the link. It’s not out of hate or retribution or favoritism and I’m sorry it seemed personal. I have no belief that any scanlation group is better than any other.
The fact that I have a notice up on this title and have never done that before is being misinterpreted by many of you. The issue is not what group is violating the copyright here – the issue is the work that is being scanlated. I am a little more vehement about this title, because I know how much blood, sweat and tears it took the artist to create and how important it is to her. And the thought that anyone is planning on scanlating it makes me ill when I know what she went through with it. The fact that Lili had it on their site is really quite irrelevant – for one thing, I don’t go to their site and have no idea what they have on it. I don’t follow their scanlations, to be honest. (In fact, I gave up reading scanlations some time ago when I realized that it was something with which I strongly disagreed. I also stopped providing out-of-print material for scanlations at that point.) If Lilicious had started to scanlate it, and I had received a lot of visitors from them for it, I very likely would have had the same or similar message. It was merely an issue of timing, not which group. I have removed Kotonoha’s name from the message, since so many thought I was harping on the group. That was not the intention and for that, I sincerely apologize.
If it were up to me, all scanlations groups would grok that they are not helping anyone worth helping. No mangaka is excited to be scanlated. You are not providing a service – you are complicit in copyright violation. You are not “building an audience,” you are devaluing something that many people have worked hard to create. And for every one person who *might* buy a work *if* it comes out and *if* it’s available at a local book store when they want it, you’re giving someone else’s work – something you have no right to in the first place – away to hundreds, maybe thousands of people who will take it and ask for more. The only audience you are building is one made up of people who have no intention of paying for the privilege – or worse, paying you to “support the group,” while the mangaka who did the actual work gets nothing from it.
To answer a specific, rather ingenuous argument in the comments – the chapters that were online for free at Ikki were published by the official publisher, with the artist’s approval. Legal online versions of a comic are clearly not the same as scans that do not have the artist’s permission.
This is exactly what licensing is. You want to publish this manga? Then license it. Then everyone gets what they need and want. You will get to translate, publish and distribute a title you love to people who want it and the mangaka gets paid for her work.
I’ll be glad to keep approving comments that disagree with me. I won’t be replying to them other than to point them to this post where it’s relevant. (My opinion on personal or offensive comments is very much “sticks and stones.” It’s tiresome, but you can’t do much damage, because I don’t know you, you don’t know me and you are not one of the dozen people or so on the planet whose anger can hurt me.)
This is my honest, heartfelt opinion as of today. It has changed in the past and will be subject to change in the future. Chances are if you rely on scanlations, I won’t change your mind. But to be honest, I really can’t approve of people distributing work they have no permission to distribute. The more I get to know the mangaka, the less I find the justifications for scanlations make sense.
May 20, 2010 Update: In response to a totally reasonable question in the comments, I have pulled the full translations of the Maria-sama ga Miteru Novels from this blog and will not be posting any more. I am keeping synopses and reviews here, because, when you talk about a cool pair of jeans you saw in a store to a friend, you are not implicitly encouraging them to steal those jeans. I know that my reviews here stimulate sales – perhaps in only a small way, and perhaps more people rush out to find scans than are motivated to purchase the books, but I know that the large percentage of Okazu readers *do* buy what they want to read and watch and I thank them and tip my hat to them.
I also want to point out that it is not a sign of weakness or hypocrisy to have an opinion that changes over time, no matter what opposition politicos say. :-) As we change, the market changes, circumstances change, technology changes, it’s sensible to have one’s opinion change. Ten years ago, I was fully in support of scans. It was extremely unlikely that most of what fans read would ever get over here. Today, manga publishers are bringing over unheard of amounts of manga, which is good, and struggling with the market, which is bad. Go Comi!, CMX, Aurora, CPM, cutbacks at Viz…all of these are signs not that the publishers are losers, but that the growing audience for manga does not mean a growing market for manga. As a result of this change, I’ve come to the opinion that while I still understand the desire for scanlations and subs…I can no longer support them. Does that make me a hypocrite because I translated stuff and provided raws for scanlations of out of print or obscure titles in the past? I’m sure many of you think it does. I can say only this – that was my position then and this is my position now. Things have changed. I have changed.
Perhaps one day publishers will find a way to create an online library that allows readers to read, and buyers to buy and all will be happy. I look forward to that day.