Random Musings

There was a post on the Wall Street Journal website the other day regarding scanlations of Japanese comics. Scanlations are a scan of an original page of a comic combined with the word translation.

Personally, I’m mixed on the idea of scanlations. On one side not ever manga released in Japan gets released in the US, while on the other, scanlations of titles for sale in the US infringe on the ability of the actually legal versions to sell properly.

Though, I have heard in the past that official manga translators were considering to work with some scanlators to help legitimize their business.

That is, someone like Tokyopop or some other group that releases manga in the US legally was going to use scanlator translators for some things.

No clue how that would help, people who want scanlations will get scanlations. I discussed this topic at length with a friend and while we came up with some ideas to help the situation, none of them could completely quell the revolution.

On one hand, there can be some good, on the other, there is possibility for evil. Let’s say Yugdaba Relic Saga is released in Japan and isn’t released here commercially. Someone starts translating it and releasing it on their website and it gets a big following.

Big Company releases it in the US because they know that because of the scanlations there are fans of this series. What recourse does the scanlator have? Should they stop scanlating the series altogether and tell people to support the official release?

Should they keep scanlating and run counter to the official release?

It is because of the scanlator that the official company released it in the US in the first place, shouldn’t the scanlator get some recompense in his case for stirring up interest in the first place?

Perhaps the Big Company should hire the scanlator to translate the series officially? That would buy out the scanlator from making more scanlations of this series.

You might cry foul and say “But that makes it all the more likely for MORE people to make scanlations hoping to be ‘bought out’ as well.”

Similar things have happened in the computer security field. People who write malware sometimes get scouted and hired by anti-virus firms.

That hasn’t created a rush of people writing viruses

What then happens to the scanlations themselves now that the scanlator no longer works on them?

You can remove them from the Internet, but you cannot remove them from the hard drives of the people who already downloaded them.

For several years, a Michigan based writer has been writing an online comic. This comic has one page released each day on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. It costs nothing to read the comic on the site.

The writer makes money by a scant amount of advertising on his site, the sale of coffee cups, pictures, and shirts about his series, and the occasional printed comic book of the series he runs on his website.

You can’t really pirate that which is given away. To paraphrase one of the guys from the Canadian comedy troupe, Three Dead Trolls in a Baggie, “…and if you downloaded this from Napster, what man? Screw you, free isn’t good enough for you? You gotta rip us off?”

The material is freely available for free on the website, no one else offers this series on their site as it’s only available on the author’s own site.

Granted, people can save each day’s comic page as a jpg and send it around that way, but when it comes right down to it, there is only one real source for these things and only one person who can actually make money from it.

So then, long story short, the easiest way to combat this is to put it online. Monty Python did it and sold piles of DVDs in the process.

The post on the Wall Street Journal that started this thing


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