Archive for the Piracy Category

Anatomy of a Book Release

Posted in Book Reviews, Government, Intellectual Property, Piracy on January 26, 2012 by Bradley Hall

On Tuesday, January 24th, 2012, the United States Pirate Party released their first book, No Safe Harbor. As I was the editor of the book, this is not a review, I cannot objectively critique this book, nor do I wish to try.

We released the book as an ebook in several formats, including .mobi, .epub, .PDF, and others. There was also a printed book available for those who wanted them. The book costs $9.99.

The original price of the book was set at $13.99, the price gave the USPP $2 per book. Clearly we didn’t want to overprice the book, but we did still want some kind of residual from it.

The change came about a few days before release when Createspace, the company doing the Print-on-Demand services for the book, altered their royalty and pay structure. Amazingly it was in our favor. I decided to lower the price to $9.99. At this price, no one could say we were price gouging, and it still gave us the $2 royalty rate we wanted.

Whether anyone but I wanted that, is beyond me. While Andrew Norton and a few others worked on the book, I was the “main” editor. I contacted the authors, set terms, wrote contracts, and figured out what order to put the essays in.

While it was tedious at times, I’d still do it again, and plan to, actually.

The book, both ebook and printed book, were released under a Creative Commons license, BY-NC-SA.

Sometime on Jan 24th, the website went down. Andrew, myself, another guy named Andrew, Chris, and some others rallied to fix what was wrong. We created a page on Blogger and redirected our link,, to it.

While we waited for traffic to pick back up, we scoured the Net and saw what happened. The site was Slashdotted. A deluge occurred.

The files for the book were hosted on the PPI site, no problem there. All we needed was a page for people to get to, hence, the Blogger page.

While watching the site stats, we saw it take off. First a hundred, then two, then, not even two hours after the site was back up, we had over 2000 hits to the page.

At the end of the day, it would go up to 13,000 hits.

At the same time, we had a Torrent set up. I have personally seeded nearly 3GB of a 50MB file (of course if someone is using uTorrent or a cooler system, they could download only the files they wanted and not worry about the 40MB RTF file.

We haven’t sold many copies of the physical book, we didn’t expect to. It was actually my idea to have a physical book, as I am struck by what Whitman called, “The mania of owning things.”

Somehow people seem to care more if your book/film/album is in a physical format, that it doesn’t “matter” if it’s not in something made of matter.

Within the day of the book’s release, I found somewhere I now forget where, someone translating the book into Spanish. I did however remember the link to the people translating it into Russian.

I couldn’t believe it, Russians want to translate this book into Russian!? More power to them.

I love this, I really do. I keep Googling and seeing what I come up with.



Posted in Book Reviews, Intellectual Property, Piracy on October 17, 2010 by Bradley Hall

If you’ve ever wondered about the origins and history of piracy this book delivers in spades. Now, that’s piracy as it applies to the unlicensed selling of items, not on the high seas.

I had no idea about the struggles Issac Newton and his fellow scientists faced in their day as people would take their works and publish them without permission or that there was such a thing as pirate buses in London.

Seriously, buses that operated outside of the chain of command of the normal bus system.

This book doesn’t end there. It talks about the piracy problems of today from Napster and Kazaa to beyond. It’s a great source of piracy history.

Publisher website.

Random Musings

Posted in Commentary, Piracy on July 19, 2010 by Bradley Hall

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

Own a piece of Lucasfilm History…

Posted in Commentary, Intellectual Property, Piracy on July 17, 2010 by Bradley Hall

…The history in question is a Cease and Desist letter sent to a Hong Kong firm that was selling a “light saber” on eBay. The firm could have just said “phooey” and taken down their “light saber” yet they did what no one expected… they’re currently selling the C&D on eBay.

As of this writing, it’s at the $800 mark.

EDIT: It eventually sold for more around $3,800.

Original Source
eBay listing

Coalition of Manga Publishers

Posted in Commentary, Economy, Intellectual Property, Piracy on June 8, 2010 by Bradley Hall

Hot on the heels of the DOJ shutting down several comic book scan sites, comes this news, also from ANN.

A coalition comic book and manga publishers is pushing for litigation against at least 30 illegal scanlation websites.

Japanese manga is originally written in Japanese. These scanlation groups somehow get a hold of the “raw” pages of different manga and have someone translate them into English and then post these pages on the Internet.

These newly translated pages are known as “scanlations,” a combination of “scan” and “translation.”

The legality of scanlations and even fansubbing is in itself of interest to me. It is of course, illegal. The problem I have seen with both of these mediums is that it creates a demand for a product, yet, if the product does come out commercially in the country that is doing the scanlating or fansubbing, no one buys the product.

Why buy it when you’ve already read it or watched it online?

“The coalition asserts that scanlation aggregator sites now host thousands of pirated titles, earning ad revenue and/or membership dues at creators’ expense while simultaneously undermining foreign licensing opportunities and unlawfully cannibalizing legitimate sales.”

Membership dues?

That right there gives everyone who ever perused these sites plausible deniability over whether or not they knew the sites were not strictly legal. The old “But I was paying for it…” defense. But it does tell me that people are willing to PAY for content.

I can see where the publishers are coming from, but, really, there has to be an easier way to get manga to people than waiting for a company to release it over here when they feel like it.

The only manga that I’ve been reading is a series known as Loveless. Look at the release cycle on the below linked Wikipedia page. Tokyopop started releasing it at a pretty good clip in 2006. In 2006 and 2007 a good portion of the series was released. Then, in 2008, we got one volume. In 2009, nothing. In 2010, so far nothing.

Of course, if you look to the left of that page, you’ll see that there’s only one more released volume in Japan, volume 9. Odds are we’ll see that volume later this year IF we’re lucky.

Yun Kouga has gone on record stating that there will be 15 volumes of Loveless. So at volume 9, we’re more than halfway there!

But, having to wait a year, or more, between published volumes in English is plain torture. Every time a new volume comes out, I have to re-read all the volumes I have just so I’ll be able to keep up with the story.

If I wanted to, I could easily find a scanlation site that offers Loveless and read each chapter as they come available.

The demand is there, manga publishers! You just need to find a way to tap it, or someone else will, legally or not.

This is why there’s an online Anime Network, this is why Crunchyroll exists. Heck, Crunchyroll started out as a place where people could watch bootlegs of Asian titles. After awhile, they turned legit and now offer officially licensed programs. Crunchyroll now “simulcasts” new shows in Japan on its site for people to watch in the US and elsewhere.

Like I said, manga publishers, it’s up to you to find a way to satiate our demand for new manga. Why can’t there be a “Manga Channel” or “Crunchyroll for Manga”?

Heck, you could easily monetize something like that with ads or subscriptions for Premium Content (like Crunchyroll or Anime Network), or even have an exclusive shop on the site that sells bath towels or bags or whatever of people’s favorite manga.

Thank you and good night.

Original posting on this site.
Loveless Wikipedia link.

Bang Zoom may close doors in 2011

Posted in Commentary, Piracy on April 27, 2010 by Bradley Hall

I have been on vacation in Phoenix, Arizona for the past week and a half. I plan to be back in Florida by this time tomorrow and will upload massive awesomeness to this site when I get done going over all the data I have collected. But I wanted to do this post.

Today, Anime News Network posted a story about an editorial that Eric Sherman, CEO of Bang Zoom! Entertainment wrote.

He says that if people continue getting their anime via illegal downloads and not buy their domestic releases.

I know my views on this are elsewhere on this site. I tend to dislike English dubbed anime, but I actually like BZE’s dubs, such as their Haruhi Suzumiya and Lucky Star dubs.

Of course, BZE doesn’t distribute the anime they overdub, other companies, such as Bandai do. The anime industry in the US is in dire straits as three of the top anime licensing companies have closed shop within the past year.

Sherman states that “Anime is going to die” but, that isn’t true, not entirely. Dubbed anime in the US is on the verge of dying.

I love Clannad. I bought Clannad and Clannad After Story as English subtitled DVDs, and I love them. Not long ago it was announced that new special editions of Clannad would be released with an English dub. The disc had the original Japanese language with the English subtitles as well.

I was ambivalent. I loved the original language, how would it being in English make it any better. I listened to the first episode and I wasn’t impressed with the dub (which BZE did not do).

I am sure that if BZE had done the dub, it would have been worth acquiring.

ANN story.

How I became the leader of a political party

Posted in Commentary, Economy, Government, Intellectual Property, Piracy, Privacy on April 5, 2010 by Bradley Hall

Short version: I randomly walked into the meeting and by the time I walked out I was the top guy of a political party boasting at least 2,000 members in the United States.

Long version:

Where to begin? Most would say “The Beginning,” and I would say, rock on. The beginning for this story starts about a year ago. That was when I first heard of the United States Pirate Party. I was sympathetic with their aims, so I contacted the leader and was added to the “Alpha Users” mailing list. The reason behind this was because I wanted to possibly write about the Party one day in the future. The mailing list was the best way to keep up with new happenings in the Party.

Right off, most people are turned off by the term “pirate party” as though this group wants nothing more than to make it legal to download Lady Gaga songs illegally from the Internet. This is far from the truth. I liken the whole “pirate party” thing to more like pirate radio, but trying to change things from the inside, not on boats broadcasting from who knows where.

You can check out the USPP’s platforms on this webpage:
USPP Platforms

I digress.

In late December 2009, I received an email from the list saying there was an emergency meeting and that all were invited. I had nothing better to do, so I clicked the link to the chat room and joined.

The fulltext of that meeting can be found Here. The reason for the meeting was because the then-current administrator of the party was being lax in his duties and had been missing in action for a month and a half. This meeting was to call a vote for a third vote of no confidence (VoNC) and as set forth in the USPP Constitution, once someone had three VoNC’s, they were removed from office. The only stipulation was that on that same night someone had to be voted into that office.

No one wanted to do it.

After a few minutes, I said I would. A vote was cast and I was instituted as the Administrator (Pro Tempore). I was to also head up the emergency election in late January, I believe the date was January 26th. I chose not to run for re-election.

With this new post, I found myself as the only officer of the USPP. Every other officer post was vacant (well, Records Officer still had someone in it, but she was soon removed as well). My time as the Admin (Pro Tem) was mostly spent answering questions people had about the party and how they could help. I also worked to keep the party united during this time of change.

Everyone involved in one aspect or another of the Party was well informed and I really enjoyed working with every one of them.

After the election and the new Admin took over, I kind of felt like I’d lost something. There was no way I could tell the new admin that I want to be admin again, so I did the next best thing. In the February election, I ran for, and won, the Records Officer position.

When I first thought about writing a post about this, it was way more epic.

USPP Website