Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Urgh. Fansubbers.

Part of the problem with getting back into anime is that I've started reading online discussions again. Rather than joining a forum or anything, though, I've been reading /r/anime on Reddit, which has an unusually high quality of discussion for anime fans (in my experience, they're largely obsessive narcissists desperate for simultaneous acceptance and distinction).

It's also reintroduced me to the immense facepalming and eye-rolling that makes up my half of the "fansubbing/piracy is helping the industry" argument.

Here's the deal: If you are taking copyrighted material and redistributing it without the permission of the copyright owner, you are breaking the law. End of discussion. I don't like copyright law for a lot of reasons, but none of those reasons is "but I'd have to wait for the DVDs otherwise". The staggering selfishness and suspect logic used to excuse this behaviour is, somehow, still a constant surprise to me.

It's not even like you don't have any legal options anymore - which used to be the primary rallying cry of fansub apologists. Give us a legal way to watch stuff as it airs in Japan, they claimed, and we'll even pay for it! But there seems to be a contingent of anti-streaming fervour on /r/anime, who constantly complain that the services don't pay the Japanese creators enough - while these same stalwarts are simultaneously torrenting everything they can get their hands on. One spectacular specimen claimed that he'd rather donate to support a fansub group than pay for a legal streaming service, but he didn't have the money to buy anime - despite boasting a couple of posts later that he's spent hundreds of dollars on merchandise, some of which I'd be pretty certain is counterfeit or unlicenced anyway.

At the end of the day, the anime industry doesn't seem to have been killed off by fansubbing (yet, anyway). Maybe the additional exposure that shows get by being distributed has a net positive effect, but I find it difficult to believe that a significant percentage of the fansub audience buys a significant percentage of the stuff they torrent. Maybe it's not hurting the industry, but if there was a more conscious effort to support legal alternatives, how much would that help it?

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