Finally, after nearly 2 weeks since the articles on our 2 major newspaper, I'm going to write something about it. And there I was, 2 weeks ago, thinking things were going to be better for the anime community with increased coverage of anime related news in the local media. LianHe did a short coverage on cosplay while the TV8 or Channel U covered the cosplay cafe and gothic lolita fashion at Alice 88th I think.
I'll cover briefly what is happening and any discussions I found interesting in my recent browsing.
First of all fansubs are illegal, have no doubts about that. Just that there wasn't a powerful enough entity here to persue the matter. AVPAS is a new entity formed recently to combat piracy. They currenlty hold rights to the list of series found here (http://avpas.com.sg/AVPAS_Authorized.html
). Funny thing is most of the core members listed are staff of ODEX, even their contact number is the same. Private commercial entity or not, it doesn't matter now since they have backing from the Japanese to allow them to ask ISPs to release private information about their users without filing for a court case first.
How are they doing it?
We(referring to the anime community) has noticed that the ones caught are all using bittorrent. This is due to the fact that each bittorrent client keeps info of who it is connected to (IPs), and is easily accessible by anyone who use the same .torrent file. There are also trackers that would list the IPs of users who are currently connected to it. So just take down the SG IPs and ask the ISPs for their info. Encryption of data in that aspect is pointless.
I do not think it is feasible for the ISPs to do an exhuastive search of everything downloaded by all their users, and since it would turn into an international affair if AVPAS requests logs from http servers that hosted the tracker/torrent file, using less well known sources might still be possible.
The more hardcore fans are enraged over this issue. To date, 3 letters from fans have been published in ST forums. Here's 1 of them with the scanned article (http://ckwiz.blogspot.com/2007/06/i-emailed-straits-times-journalist.html
). In the letter, it mentioned there is a community of anime bloggers who purchases anime related items on a regular basis, and their boycott of ODEX is due to the low quality (bad subs, bad dub, outdated releases, bad censorship). The point of low quality has been beaten to death and been brought up so many times that some are irritated by it; thinking that they are just excuses for pure downloaders.
The problem here is everything is murky. DarkMirage of a popular blog has attributed some of the faults to ODEX being aloof from the fans. His letter to ODEX hightlighting these points can be viewed here (http://www.darkmirage.com/2007/01/09/an-open-letter-to-odex/
I feel the problem is information too. Nobody actually knows the potential market for anime. Nobody knows how many are downloaders and how many are buyers. In fans' view, ODEX underestimates the hardcore fans, believing them to be a minority of the total market. In ODEX's view, Hardcore fans overestimates themselves to be the biggest group of potential buyers. Who is right?
Another favourite arguement for fansubs is promotion of the series. Something like the "try before u buy" idea. Which was the original purpose of the fansubbers. Nowadays some fansub groups continues a licensed series, simply ignoring the code of honour. The temptation to just keep the downloaded version is probably too great for most. The "try before u buy" idea is only suitable for people with buying power, i.e the hardcore fans. They are able to get latest releases of DVDs via imports which are too expensive for the average viewer. However watching fansubs is like being exposed to a whole wide range of options, nobody, hardcore or not, would willingly go back to the confinement cell that is ODEX.
The anime community is slowly moving into society, the pioneers should be well into their 30s. As more and more of us infiltrates(lol?) the society, hopefully it will be easier to find people with power sympathic to our cause. Like this lawyer student in sgcafe, digging through the law books to inform us about the legal implications of certain actions. Some things I found interesting from his posts are, watching videos on youtube-like sites should not be chargeable (for the viewer), fansubbers could sue ODEX for using their translation of Gundam Seed Destiny without permission.
To me the part about youtube video seems to be based on how he interprets a "network" and viewing videos from it. Not being a law student makes me unsure about this. Haha.
The part on fansubbers sueing ODEX was just for interest. According to him in reality, since fansubbers could be sued in return by the japanese company, the fansubbers will never take a stand against licensing companies that uses their translation. This has been exploited by ODEX quite a few times, which I can only give confirmation from a person who once worked in ODEX. Unfortunately out of irritation I posted that info in sgcafe which his boss frequents and it sabo'ed him. I removed the post the next day but the damage was done, quite sorry about that.