This issue is not a matter of economics, it’s a matter of self.

October 24, 2007 at 5:00 pm 17 comments

DRM NOTE: I haven’t had the luxury of doing a nice, well thought-out post in a long while. I really should do more of this, it’s much better for the mind.

I read the news regarding the Japanese government issuing pleas for help to America for help with their rampant bit-swapping problems. Initially, I waved it off, knowing how Japan has always been unable to enact such laws in the past. Still, with the recent spate of otaku crackdowns and destruction of their hangouts, I waited with bated breath for the inevitable discussion, flamefests and jiggery pokery at the ANN forums.

I did not like what I read. People throwing out the same pro-fansub propoganda drivel, Zac being a pompous ass and muttering about how fansubs have become too big for their own good, people slinging lies and whatnot about BOTH SIDES of the argument, in short, it’s the sort of idiocy that happens everywhere.

However, while both sides are slowing turning into what could be termed a slightly more mature form of “my view is better than your view” circular argument, I read the whole discussion. Zac hits back at how the system is broken. He quips:

Here’s a tip: say like within 6 months or so you watch 9-10 26 or 13-episode series fansubbed and, after dedicating hours and hours of your life to watching this stuff and discussing it on the internet, always downloading more and more, you decide to spend $30 on a thinpak boxset on the one series you decided you liked enough to pay for… the system is broken.

I realized he’s extremely disillusioned with the entire community and industry as a whole. And who wouldn’t be, seeing as the whole community is slowly becoming a circlejerk with no hope for redemption, salvation or even a cure. The pro-fansub pedants keep going about how it is THEIR RIGHT to download Japanese animation just because they can’t get it fast enough/too poor/bad quality/dubs suck/whatever is the excuse of the day, the pro-industry people going on about how fansubs WILL kill the industry eventually, corporations refusing to look beyond their myopic views…

I don’t blame Zac for being disillusioned. In fact, I actually feel the same way about the whole thing too. Yes 4chan, I am empathize with the enemy here. Y’see, fansubbing wasn’t about the amount of leechers one group got, or about the friggen’ drama, or the quality of releases, or the feel-good feeling. It was about promoting a alternative lifestyle that was not just interesting, but also created a close-knit community that was just as wholesome as any group-based activity.

How did such altruism turn into the black, sticky cesspool of elitism, circlejerking, self-serving dung it is today? To be honest, I don’t know. However, I think I can venture a guess, based off human behavior and history.

History has always been rife with traitors, bad people, assassins, dirty politicians and their ilk. In the play Julius Caesar, ol’ Caesar was stabbed in the back by his second-hand man. Jesus was betrayed by Judas Iscariot. Some of the Egyptian kings were murdered in power ploys they didn’t foresee. The Jews, failing to heed the words of Moses and the prophets, backslided into greed and power, wanting to free themselves from a rather generous Roman occupation of Israel.

In a sense, the fansubbing community was a lot like the Jews in the times of the New Testament. Originally created for a higher purpose, it slowly backslided into what we see today: Grabs for power, recognition, and heck, money. The similarities I can draw from these two events, spaced 2000+ years apart from each other, is frightening.

From all that, I realized one thing: the whole issue of fansubbing had, slowly, and unknowingly, became an issue about self. In fact, the whole filesharing debate can be summed up in one sentence: It is about self.

Let’s get our heads out of the past and into the present.

I’m quite sure the bitter memory of ODEX is still in the heads of many. I’ll use that to illustrate what I have to say.

Now, I live in Singapore, as you all know. Censorship of media is pretty rampant, it’s nearly impossible to get shows locally (and what is available, it’s of such low quality not even a loanshark would touch it, and the main company was founded on unethical standards) , and should you import, the poor sod might not even get what he ordered.

Given such circumstances, do you think I have a good reason to act like a dirty pirate and indiscriminately grab what I like? I know most of you will answer yes, I have every right to do so, but I’m sorry. The answer is, “NO.” Why? Simply because a reason is not an excuse.

Let’s see the reasons for downloading stuff off the Internet in my case, eh?

  • Censorship
  • ODEX is a shitty company
  • Too pricey
  • Not value-for-money
  • Buying merchandise is supporting the industry
  • Can’t get it here, must fly to Japan
  • No money
  • It is my right to do so
  • The law does not explicitly say it’s illegal

I could use any of these reasons to justify my actions, and I’d still be not wholly to blame.

What kind of a fucked-up society would allow such lousy reasons and flimsy defenses to exonerate such crimes? I’ll tell you what kind of society it is. It is a society where no one will be held accountable for what they do, as long as they have a made-up excuse to back it up. It’s the same society that allows flimsy evidence like IP addresses to be used in a court of law as HARD EVIDENCE to defend CORPORATE GREED. It’s also the same society when a bigot is praised for destroying the community and the one protecting it gets called a hypocrite. Sickening isn’t it?

In order to fufill selfish desires, we have turned society into the cesspool of dung it is today, where organizations and companies like the RIAA and ODEX to fuck with the innocent while the real perpatrators get away scot-free and do the same crime until someone kills them.

This is the problem we have today: people care more about themselves than others. This is the truth. You see it everyday on the streets, in the news, on the Internet. Why is there war? It’s because someone wants to fulfill their selfish ideal. The whole filesharing/internet piracy fiasco? IT’S BECAUSE WE ARE SELFISH PRICKS. Unlike DarkMirage and his supposed “attempts” to “help the community”, this is the real truth, and I’ll stick to it no matter what.

The truth is, no one cares about anybody anymore. Companies exploit the proles for short-term profit shared between a few people. Information gets shared because people don’t want to pay a single cent for it. People want all the benefits, without all the responsibilities. I think Gregory Koukl said it right when he said this:

If I would identify a single trend with regard to the issue of justice and moral health in our society, the one that I would put my finger on is a form of moral relativism: people are no longer responsible for their actions. Someone else is always responsible. Your parents are responsible. Society is responsible. Your upbringing is responsible. Your genes are responsible. Your chemistry is responsible. It’s the chocolate you ate this morning or the pizza you had last night or the difficult circumstances that you grew up with. All of these things, these inanimate things that can’t be punished themselves are all to blame. And people, moral creatures who make moral choices, are not the ones to blame. Therefore, it’s inappropriate to punish them.

It’s about time someone realizes that we must give to Caesar what belongs to him. Zac, the system is indeed broken, but it’s not about the system, it’s about the people. They are the broken ones. They broke the system. The system is broken because people are broken and the community would like it to stay broken so that it hides their misdeeds.

Gah, I can’t write anymore. I think I rambled on for quite a bit somewhere in the middle.

Related reading material:

ANN report, and the discussion

An interesting writeup on the early days of fansubbing.

Now I understand why ANN is sometime called elitist.

An interesting writeup on the state of society today.

Entry filed under: Anime, Christianity and Anime, editorial, fansubbers.

orz You wanted an awesome Nanoha series? I’LL GIVE YOU AN AWESOME NANOHA SERIES.

17 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Ace  |  October 24, 2007 at 5:51 pm

    I’ve typed three comments and erased them all, your post made me think. Ultimately, the question that has to be asked is, what will happen to the industry if fansubs are finally shutdown? In the end, is the greed of the industry ultimately going to be its downfall? Or will it instead prosper?

    I personally believe the former of the two, but this isn’t the place to preach my beliefs, but rather to say that, you are correct that it is a greed driven debate now. The people are indeed the broken ones, not the system. Truthfully, this in and of its own right is comparable to a war and as with any war, no side will compromise until there is a winner. I’ll stop here before I ramble any further.

  • 2. dKiWi  |  October 24, 2007 at 6:35 pm

    excellent post, I’ll be paying more attention to this blog.

    To counter argue for DarkMirage, have you heard of the economic theory of the “Invisible Hand”? It roughly argues if everyone works for their own selfish desires, the overall economy benefits as a whole. Like you are not provided bread from the bakery because the baker wants to give u bread, its because he needs the money. Roughly like that.

    But of course you can’t apply that to the fansub community since it isn’t directly involved in economics. But I still feel DM is doing quite a good policing job even if its selfish. Bad fansub grps shud not be allowed to use the power of the internet to mass mislead people without them even knowing. That’s like Paprika.

  • 3. Di Gi Kazune  |  October 24, 2007 at 7:38 pm

    Drm actually summarised my stance quite well… in more “diplomatic terms”. If I wrote this piece, there would have been more four letter words lots more… like every other word.

    For all the n00bs and not so n00bs, while you were still all shotas (or lolis if any of you are), “digital fansubbing” was taking off and becoming “teh rage”. And yes, it was filled with EGOS. BIG egos the size of small planetoids. It was about “wang” and “p0n0s” and it still is today. That is why all those old enough to remember devilray and e-f are disillusioned because… this egoism has just exponentially exploded. The only thing good about the popularity was that it made staffing the lameass group(s) easier. Just think probability, more people lurking means more potential meat to abuse as staff. That’s why all the smaller groups died. Staffing.

    The one thing that fansub groups never tell is the ego fights behind the scenes. Usually the completely insane delusional megalomaniacs win. The voice of reason and sanity in the group doesn’t. Then the fun begins… because down the track what the voice of reason and sanity pointed out in the begining happens. This is where you insert:


    In no pecking order:
    1) So, no, fansubbers “do not have this holy right to fansub”.
    2) The industry can be an ass for all I care, Darwin said survival of the fittest or something like that… or was it those who adapt survive.
    3) Buy R2s and learn japanese, or buy R1s and write complaint emails/letters to the companies if you are unsatisfied.
    4) If you are really unsatisfied, found your own company and do a better job if you don’t like 3)
    5) Mindless leechers do not care about accuracy. If you do care, gravitate towards the asses you’d prefer to lick. That is your choice.

    Oh yes, noted this thing at the end

    Don’t want to comment, other people can.

  • 4. Di Gi Kazune  |  October 24, 2007 at 7:40 pm

    Hmmm incorrect use of blockquote, let’s try again…

    Oh yes, noted this thing at the end

    But I still feel DM is doing quite a good policing job even if its selfish.

    Don’t want to comment, other people can.

  • 5. HardCheese  |  October 24, 2007 at 8:44 pm

    @dWiki (actually also for everyone else reading this):

    The invisible hand dosent really work in the case of anime, because the internet and download creates such a thing known as ‘market failure’.

    Well, we can all agree that anime is good for you, but it is experiencing non-exclusivity and non-rivalry due to ease of downloading. By non-exclusivity and non-rivalry, i mean that: a) you cannot stop anyone else from consuming the good. b) you consuming the good dosent stop anyone else from consuming the good.

    As such, anime, as we know it is, definitely suffers from the Freerider problem. People WILL freeload, and i do believe a good proportion of self-proclaimed anime fans freeload. Not only does this stop industries from getting the profits they may deserve, it actually also creates an illusion that there is less demand for anime than it actually is.

    So if you are a freeloader, you are ‘harming profits of industries’ ( which you wont care for if you are self-ish), and ‘dropping supply of anime’. ( producers supply less of anime since they think that demand of anime is not as great as it is. Hence, you are harming both the industries AND the community if you freeload.

    HOWEVER, i still think that fansubs have a role to play, though they SHOULD stop once the anime is licensed. Fansubs cannot be denied to have great marketing effect on certain series, but i do think that anime companies would be able to market the series to a wider audience once they licensed it. (Anime company sells anime viewing rights to TV stations. TV has a much larger viewership than people on the net searching a certain fansub.)

    That said, Odex is stopping my efforts to support the industry by being a turd. And i am quite against ordering DVDs from aborad just so some dude from MDA can watch it under the pretext of ‘checking for content safety’.

  • 6. Di Gi Kazune  |  October 24, 2007 at 8:48 pm

    And i am quite against ordering DVDs from aborad just so some dude from MDA can watch it under the pretext of ‘checking for content safety’.

    Only if you are ordering… Kojika

  • 7. HardCheese  |  October 24, 2007 at 9:03 pm

    @Di Gi Kazune:

    This is SIngapore lol.

    Even Haruhi DVDs may get you whacked

  • 8. drmchsr0  |  October 24, 2007 at 9:21 pm

    Not may, will.

    Then again, there are ways to beat the system legally.

  • 9. HardCheese  |  October 24, 2007 at 9:23 pm


  • 10. lolikitsune  |  October 24, 2007 at 10:11 pm

    There’s a very, very simple solution to the fansub “problem.”

    International online cross-browser DRM-free episode downloads.

    If I could spend, say, three bucks, and then have a legal unbroken copy of an episode of anime on my computer, I would pay the three bucks. Paying twenty for a boxed DVD that takes up room in my house and cannot be read by every DVD player and the files of which I cannot legally rip is ridiculous.

    Also, with what I proposed, you could still have fansubbers. People could subscribe to whatever online store sites and apply for a special user category of fansubber. Then the company selling the downloads could let them download anything they fansub for free in exchange for the fansubber’s script, which the company could use to broaden its audience and increase its sales.

  • 11. TheBigN  |  October 24, 2007 at 11:45 pm

    This whole fansubbing deal confuses me. :/

  • 12. dKiWi  |  October 25, 2007 at 5:51 am

    @HardCheese: Yes, fansubs create a freerider problem. But without fansubs, the demand curve for anime DVDs will be all the way on the left anyways.

  • 13. HardCheese  |  October 25, 2007 at 8:54 am


    That may well be.


    When the only anime people heard of was Dragonball, and there were’nt really any companies licensing and marketing anime.
    Again, i am NOT saying that fansubs is ENTIRELY bad. I am just saying that fansubbing should stop upon licensing, because the invisible hand does not necessarily make everyone better off all the time, due to as-mentioned-before market failure.

  • 14. drmchsr0  |  October 25, 2007 at 9:07 am

    Mark every package not over a certain weight limitation as a “gift”.

  • 15. Chris Fritz  |  October 29, 2007 at 9:29 am

    I don’t doubt for one moment that fansubs help get a series noticed, but I heard about Lucky Star (which I have not seen), before it even aired in Japan, via word of mouth.

    lolikitsune’s views look to match mine completely (and my own views are expanded upon on my blog). If I could hand over money to download episodes, and if fansubbers would be willing to release text files of translations rather than fancy, shiny styled text on video downloads, the two could live in harmoney.

    Unfortunately, the ones to speak to about change with anime availability all speak Japanese. Even worse, <abbr title=”video on demand services will be DRM-encumbered for some time yet. When it takes me over nine hours just to be able to watch an episode of Jang Geum’s Dream via MBC’s VOD service, there’s something wrong. (Okay, the ones to speak to about change in this situation speak Korean, which is even worse, as I at least know a decent amount of Japanese, and only about ten words of Korean!)

    I’m glad to see more people looking at the bad from both sides of the community. So long as people don’t acknowledge the negativity from their own side of the argument, how can they expect to have a reasonable discussion with someone from the other side?

  • 16. INVISIBLE AMERIKAN ANIMU SCENE « orz - SWISS CHEESE PORN  |  January 10, 2008 at 10:54 pm

    […] already said my piece on the matter, and I don’t want to repeat it […]

  • 17. thevillageidiot  |  August 3, 2008 at 10:52 am

    it is man’s nature to be selfish. if you disagree, then you are lying to yourself.


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And the prophet spake, saying: "Frak this, for my faith is a shield proof against your blandishments!"

- Alem Mahat, The Book of Cain, Chapter IV, Verse XXI

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