entertainment

If you’re reading pirated manga, one artist would prefer you just not read their work at all

33 Comments
By Casey Baseel, SoraNews24

To say that the relationship between anime/manga fans and piracy is a complicated one is an understatement. In the modern, digitally connected age, you’d be hard-pressed to find an otaku who’s never read a single chapter or watched a single episode that was illegally posted online.

It likely has something to do with the hobby being overwhelmingly youth-oriented, and many teen or young adult otaku’s desire for content far outstripping their earning power and ability to pay for it. Further complicating the situation is that unlike stealing physical media, pirating anime/manga doesn’t inflict immediate direct harm on the rightful owner, and the accounting gets even murkier when enthusiastic pirates boast that their actions are increasing interest in the medium, and thus boosting demand for future content.

Recently manga creator Gino808, author/artist of "Yukionna to Kani wo Kurau" (“Devouring a Snow Woman and Crab”) and "Doteibanashi" (“Virgin Story”), took to Twitter to add a few of their thoughts on the subject.

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“I want pirated manga to disappear. Even if they keep getting posted, if people would just not read them, that’d be fine,” a frustrated Gino808 pleads.

A common justification for reading pirated manga is that it’s something the reader wasn’t going to buy anyway, so there’s no harm done, but Gino808 has something to say on that front too. “If you don’t think you want to read my manga badly enough to spend money on it, that’s a sign that I, and my manga, aren’t good enough, and that decision is yours to make. If you only think it’s good enough to read pirated, though, I don’t want you to read it.”

But wait, don’t all artists want people to enjoy their work? Maybe so, but a key distinction here is that Gino808 is a professional, putting in professional-grade effort and time on their manga, and needs financial security in order to continue doing so.

Screen Shot 2021-01-10 at 10.05.55.png

“We’re not drawing manga as volunteers. It’s a valuable product. I often hear people say that they pirate manga because they want to spread recognition of it, but that’s tatemae” Gino808 says, referring to the custom of saying one thing while actually thinking another.

It’s not just the individual author whose livelihood can be adversely affected by piracy, as Gino808 points out elsewhere in the threads. “Do pirates think manga is made by a person with talent who just has an idea pop into their head, then draws it up with no effort at all?…Manga is a result of the creators using years of their lives and taking on the risk of going into the red so that they can pay their assistants.”

The mention of assistants is particularly thought-provoking. The logic behind the “piracy increases the number of manga fans” justification is that pirated manga makes it easier for a new fan to get into the hobby, and once their fandom takes root they’ll start supporting the industry by buying legitimate releases and merchandise. To be fair, that is sometimes (though not always) how things shake out.

However, if reading a pirated version of Manga A from Author B published by Company C turns you into an otaku who later goes out and buys Manga D from Author E published by Company F, that’s not doing anything for the parties on the victim side of the piracy. Even if you’re of the mindset that any monetary contribution to the industry as a whole will eventually somehow cycle back towards Author B and Company C, Author B’s assistants, whose jobs are less lucrative, probably need to get paid now, not at some unspecified point in the future when some sort of financial karma visits them.

So while pirating manga may not make you a monster, it’s probably too much to expect a professional creator to be OK with it, especially when there are free chapters of Gino808’s manga available online legally here through Kodansha’s Comic Days app.

Source: Twitter/@0808gino via Otakomu

Read more stories from SoraNews24.

-- One Piece manga creator’s work schedule is absolutely insane

-- Do you enjoy pirated anime and manga? If so, this “thank you” is not for you

-- One Piece creator purposely wanted the manga/anime’s artwork to look “strange”

© SoraNews24

©2021 GPlusMedia Inc.

33 Comments
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i remember Jerry seinfelds I want the last twenty seconds of my life back

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

a good book to read on this subject is Information doesn't want to be free

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

it would be like street musicians insisting people who don't drop a few coins in their guitar case walk by covering their ears

-5 ( +2 / -7 )

I often hear people say that they pirate manga because they want to spread recognition of it

Yes, that's same excuse many use to jump the vaccine queue "I just want to prove it's safe."

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I often hear people say that they pirate manga because they want to spread recognition of it

This is the kind of tight-fisted rubbish people say when trying to get a small business or performer to work for nothing: "Doing this for me will bring you publicity," they say, making out that they're doing the business owner/performer a favour by shafting them.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

I could care less what the author wants once they step out of their BMW or Mercedes while wearing their Armani Suit and demand they get more royalties for their work. How about we come to a middle ground instead of 70 Years copyright we make it 5 years and then I will by your book early if it is good enough.

-9 ( +1 / -10 )

Just buy it if you like it, pirating doesn't help anyone... the promotion angle is BS...

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Pretty much all authors feel that way - particularly the 90% or so of serious authors whose works are actually subsidized by the sale of popular titles by their publisher. This is the dominant paradigm in publishing, although self-publication and the establishment of an online audience has more recently allowed some authors to find publishers. The economics of writing fiction for a living are even worse than the economic outlook for izakaya.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

JamesToday 10:32 am JST

I could care less what the author wants once they step out of their BMW or Mercedes while wearing their Armani Suit and demand they get more royalties for their work.

Somehow I am not convinced that's the case for the majority of authors in Japan ...

3 ( +3 / -0 )

If your work is badly rewarding financially, change job.

No piracy will not bring more revenues.

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

I wanna buy their manga. But, the shipment cost is too expensive. And, in my country, we're so picky when it comes to manga and anime. So, there aren't many manga as if in other countries. I know, and I understand that pirated manga is a bad, bad thing. But, it's a reliever to person whose in another country and the shipment cost is very expensive. If I goes to Japan, I'll definitely buy your mangas. I promise.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

James,

Outside of JK Rowling, point to one manga-ka who drives expensive cars and wears expensive suits. Many manga-ka are salaried employees of magazines or publishers. It’s the publishers who make the most money (from the work of several dozen manga-ka).

Expat is correct. A publishing company needs a super-star author to subsidize those who create novels and manga for the love of it.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Outside from some major titles, there are many mangas which are not translated to other languages at all. Some pirated mangas are translated by fans and that is the only way how international audiences can get them. I am not defending pirates, but this is how it is. Then we have a huge problem of Japan going forward with the current trends. As someone mentioned shipping can be expensive. Why not offer some sort of Netflix for manga? If you want to make people stop pirating your content, make sure it is easily accessible to the wider audience. I am not familiar with the artist from the article at all, but if that person didn’t try to make his/her work easily available digitally as well (in this age there is no excuse not to have eg. web with paid access for the content), I am sorry bur those tweets can be described only as whining.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

it is how it is basically, just purchased the 6th volume of komi can't communicate, despite that im already reading the latest chapter avaliable by fans translation on the net, im 13 volume behind in the official release, there were a total of 19 volume avaliable at the moment in the raw version, and our country publisher only show casing that they will be working only until the 16th volume, but im still supporting the author nonetheless, because i love the work, and i gotta say, i came from a random meme post on ig, got curious, read it pirately, love it, and i decided to buy it. next stop is, spy x family and kaguya sama love is war, both of them were known to me, via a pirating site. im sorry in advance.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I understand that the artists don't like that their work is pirated but for me it's kind of hard not to since I live in Finland so there is not much manga in finnish that I would like to read. My family also doesn't like traveling that much either and even though I can read and write english pretty well I don't get the chance to even try supporting the artists that I like. If I have the chance I do buy the mangas that I like though.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Not saying “go pirate stuff”, but:

1) What about reading for free at the bookstore? Or at the barbershop/izakaya/whatever that has a bookshelf for customers? Yes, I get there is a fundamental difference but at the end of the day, someone is reading manga/magazines/whatever without paying.

2) A significant chunk of manga isn’t even available in English, so outside of fan-translated stuff it would never even reach western audiences. Moreover many of said fan translations stop hosting when the manga does become available.

3) There’s a ton of free manga, webcomics and general media already out there on the web. If you are telling me I have to go to a physical bookstore, find it, buy it, then hope I like it...yeeeaah no.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

@borscht

1 Eiichiro Oda. It should be no surprise that Eiichiro Oda, the creator behind the greatest selling manga of all time, One Piece, is also the richest Mangaka in the industry.

2 Akira Toriyama. ...

3 Gosho Aoyama. ...

4 Hajime Isayama. ...

5 Yoshihiro Togashi. ...

6 Masashi Kishimoto. ...

7 Hirohiko Araki. ...

8 Yōichi Takahashi. ...

Just to name a few....

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Well, I don’t read them, but I think it is not a real problem nowadays, or in other words, it’s their fault, how they produce and present it. Printed manga could be secured by wrapping and cameras etc. and the online or eBook versions could be sold and treated like those cashless money accounts for example, with passwords, double verification and the like. Then both versions, in paper and electronic, can’t be read beforehand anymore. And the little rest, when people buy one and then use or publish it outside of their own privacy, can easily be found and prosecuted then, as it is also done in cases of other copyright violations, like professional photographs, scientific publications and the like.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

its a bit like a shop owner saying , those of you who come into my store to shoplift , I would rather you just walk past please. there's a point undoubtedly, but a self serving, whining one .

0 ( +1 / -1 )

maybe the tweets sound different in Japanese

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I'm betting the majority of piracy is fan translations because you can find it in your native tongue. This is the modern era they should all have patreon accounts where foreigners can also donate. The actual manga in the stores around here is very limited not to mention you might have to wait years for some company to pick it up and translate and sell it. I would love and support a way to donate money to the teams of people that create the manga that never do make it to the US. (besides they would get a bigger share of profit since it would cut out the middleman needed to bring it overseas).

also I find that when you're younger you actually have more money to spend on stuff like manga because you don't have to pay for bills. I remember I used to spend $75-100 a month at the bookstore because I didn't have to pay for anything to survive. xP

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I fall into a group that I at least hope a majority of non japanese speakers/readers fall into. I read what could be considered pirated manga, however if it has english official translation for sale I will purchase it. I read the fan translations and buy the official translations as they become available to me, and in some cases multiple versions of the same ones such as light novel series of youjo senki, where I own digital for convenience and physical for asthetics in my house. I'm not defending piracy, in fact quite the opposite. When it comes to legality, fan translations of series that no company has purchased english rights to are fair game. Once a company has procured those rights however, some series have fan translations that are so far ahead people just keep using them, overlord for example had 13 fan translated volumes by the time volume 1 official translation was released. I continued to read fan translations while buying the series as it came out and am the proud owner of 12 hardcover volumes of overlord.

Sorry for the long post, TL;DR, fan translations aren't wrong unless official translations exist for purchase.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Here's my 2 cents.

We had library's for centuries where I ou could read copyrighted works for free. Most of the time if the book was cherished people would buy their own copies. The authors made their livings and no harm was done.

Piracy isnt any different really when it comes to manga. There are some who abuse it most don't yet even so. I think the biggest flaw with manga and idk if the author here is talking about Japanese readers only but for their english speaking readers. Most manga never gets translated to english and a lot of the time when it does the authors work is but hard amd censors to reflect "western values" if it get translated at all a lot is banned from translation overseas like my favorite manga fate prisma. I bought imported the entire series legally from japan but I cant read any of it cause I read speak japanese. Only the pirates translated it there will never be an english translation cause no publisher wants to translate it. If not for the pirates I'd never known this existed. I intend to learn Japanese one day to cut out the middle man but that's not most people. Also theres alway a risk when importing manga to other countries laws. If I was a japanese artist I'd be more upset my vision is being tampered with and denied to people who would enjoy my work as it was meant to.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I know that it's not right, but I read the fan translations cause I'm broke. I do enjoy buying them though, and value the one's I was able to buy over these past few years

^^ Well I think I know what I'm going to ask for my birthday in 3 months now. Money to buy the manga I really liked/ want to read. Or maybe I'll try coming at my shell and look for a job..

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Aye matey! Until they start pushing more manga to the west, a pirate I will be!

Seriously though, I've bought almost $1,000 in manga (digital) in the last six months or so. I still read a ton of content that's pirated, but it's not available in my country and much of it never will be. The more content they translate, the more content that will be purchased.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

While yes, pirating can lead to a new customer who wanted to preview a manga/anine/whatever before dropping money on it, I question at times how often that happens, especially in the manga/anine industry. The argument primarily has a hard time working due to the fact that when you read a manga or watch an anime, that's it, any time you revisit it it will be exactly the same. Unlike a video or board game, where every playthrough tends to be completely unique (barring things like VNs), there is no more "returnability" or otherwise different experience you will received from returning to a manga ir anime, unless its as an older person with new life experiences to provide new frame of reference on something. But it just goes to show there might not be a compelling argument for pirates to state they're growing the industry.

That said, that all goes out the window in one scenario, fan translations. In the instance where a work is unavailable in a certain language, and it is pirated and translated for speakers of the unavailable language, this can be an actual benefit wuth no loss to the creator. Foreign readers have no pre-existing expectation to buy the work as the work is effectually unavailable to them, therefore they are not lost sales that could otherwise reasonably have been sales through reasonable access. Rather, it can be a boost to the creator's economy if the translation group is buying the copy to scan and translate. Regardless of how it is obtained, these fan groups, for the cost of one pirated copy of each chapter, are translating your works, something that costs a lot more than a single pirated chapter, and testing for a possible reader base in a new language, something way more expensive than an official translator, and risky to boot. The result? for the cost of a pirated chapter per scanlator, at worst, (which if you actively provided groups free chapters, you could write off as a business expense) you've beta tested a completely new market for viability to determine if its valuable obtaining an official translation. This not just saves you money and risk by going through traditional means, but also opens up new and safe bets for markets to sell to, something any business person would salivate over. Its why game reviewers get free games, product reviewers get free product, to test and promote a product to a new market.

Now we have a new ethical issue, especially if mangaka and anime studios used fan translators to market test products, how should fan translators be compensated? What they are doing is real work that takes real time. Its a real business that others do professionally. The only real difference? Fan translators might not be as fluent as a professionally vetted translator. This is ok for market testing, to a degree, and gives the translator valuable practical practice and experience towards fluency and industry experience, but work is work, and if someone is going to make money off their work, it is reasonable they should be compensated appropriately. Most currently do this through donations like Patreon or PayPal, but that is reliance on a group of readers who probably don't have the extra funds to give. So we are presented with a new dilemma for a group that might not yet realize it.

Let me know your thoughts. I'd be interested in hearing other opinions on this as well.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Let me add one more stupid decision from Japanese anime distributors. During my trip overseas I noticed that some anime on Netflix that I didn’t watch in Japan because of lack of subtitles actually have them overseas. It took me more than a hour speaking with Netflix support until they finally admitted that Japanese distributors don’t allow Netflix to have English subtitles on some anime in Japan while it’s okay for the overseas. In that case I am forced to download pirated animes with subtitles, but I don’t feel any guilt because I already have them on Netflix which I paid for. If I could get official reasons from Japanese distributors why are they forbidding English subtitles on Netflix for Japan for sure it would be such a nonsense that I would instantly develop a brain aneurysm.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

@ Sandoval

Alternatively, you could attempt to learn the language of the country in which you now live.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

it would be like street musicians insisting people who don't drop a few coins in their guitar case walk by covering their ears

Except it is nothing like that at all. When a street musician is playing music in a public space they are releasing their performance in the public domain and would not be able to, or entitled to, demand compensation for the performance. When a content creator places their content on a private site behind a paywall they are placing it in the private domain and are well within their rights to demand compensation for rights to access/copy the work. Unlike street performers who force passers by to experience their performance, content/entertainment creators restrict access to content to those who pay to access. Suggesting that they should not have the ability to enforce their rights to receive compensation for the works they created is more akin to suggesting that software developers shouldn't be able to demand a salary as compensation for their work.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Aye matey! Until they start pushing more manga to the west, a pirate I will be!

Seriously though, I've bought almost $1,000 in manga (digital) in the last six months or so. I still read a ton of content that's pirated, but it's not available in my country and much of it never will be. The more content they translate, the more content that will be purchased.

Absolutely this. I am surprised I've not seen more comments of this nature here. As can be seen in one of my previous comments I am all for the rights content creators hold over their intellectual property. Personally, I have a Netflix, Hulu, and Crunchyroll subscription, I've purchased various localized VNs over reputable sources (Higurashi, Steins Gate, etc.) and, between Patreon and Pixiv Fanbox, I spend a bit over $100 per month supporting content creators I enjoy. I admit that I am quite lucky to be able to afford such a budget on entertainment.

That said, we live in an ever rapidly globalizing world. Far gone are the days where an individual spends their entire life limited to the entertainment and culture within their national borders. In most cases I am more than willing to stand by content creator's rights to receive compensation for their work and intellectual property. But if you, as a content creator, make no efforts to make your work accessible outside your own national borders or, even worse, take active measure to restrict distribution outside your own national borders then my support falls flat and I have no sympathy. I will happily read a fan-translated scanlation if I stumble across a manga that catches my eye and, upon further investigation, find that it has not been made available outside of Japan. Same goes for any type of media and any country. I understand that it can be hard to actively make your work more accessible (ex. an indie creator who can't translate their own work into other languages and can't afford professional localization) but, in those cases, you need to simply be willing to accept that fans and unofficial parties will pick up the work that you are unable or unwilling to do.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@PerformingMonkey

I can understand maybe 60ish percent, but watching like that would mean that I am missing 40 percent of the story which ruins watching experience. Language learning is something that takes huge amount of time and if I would skip shows until I master my Japanese it would mean that I would probably never watch it. Subtitles were invented for a reason. So, according to your logic we should not watch Japanese movies or series until we master Japanese language...

0 ( +0 / -0 )

If only I could buy and financially support every series that I read/read, there are some series that no matter how hard I look I cannot find any way to support the author. Almost all of the manga that I've bought, barring Berserk and a few others, I have first read online. I definitely support buying an author's work and will encourage it, but when I can't buy an author's work I'm at a loss for how to support the author, on a related note if anybody can point me to an english copy of 'She Doesn't Know Why She Lives' I'd be greatly appreciative.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I wanna buy their manga. But, the shipment cost is too expensive

There are some alternative sites that have free shipping. I guess majority doesn't know about Book Depository. It's a site like Amazon. But it's free shipping. The only downside is that you cannot track your package, but it's most probably at the post office in a month or so. If you want digital copies, you can opt to buy ebooks on Google Play Books, even.

This is for those who read manga in English. For Southeast Asia, there are sellers on apps like Shopee. Just find a legit one or a store that is verified distributor. Read reviews, too.

I won't be a hypocrite and say, I didn't read pirated copies. Where I am from, a few years back, pirated works from comics to videos to bootleg merch were popular. It's when I actually got to follow mangakas on Twitter and pixiv that I read their concerns about piracy. It's so normalized where I am from that I didn't know it's stealing from artists and hurting their livelihoods. I don't want to disrespect them or be one of those entitled, rude people who would @ the mangaka on Twitter and berate them for speaking out about this issue or telling mean things to the authors.

So I learned to find ways to support the artists whose works I've loved.

You can read free comics on pixiv comics. I search for these keywords - 無料 (free of charge). Use Naver's papago or deep translator to read Japanese. When you feel like it's a good comic for you, you can purchase it digitally. It's not even hard, and you're just having to adjust a bit to read legally.

Even digital platforms like Tapas has started acquiring Japanese comics and it's cheaper, too! There are similar apps like it. You can read shonen on MangaPlus or SJ's app.

For anime, there are new platforms that host free anime. Like iQIYI, Ani-One and Muse Asia. :) Really, it's not hard to adjust... Just search for a bit to find a way to read/watch.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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