Legitimization of Your Fanboyish Behavior

Well, I guess it’s a little more than LOL copyright. This is kind of a comment to my own blog post in a way.

Thanks to Avatar and others (and maybe over at CCB), I’ve managed to say more than what I originally did, and in the process came to realize that this is really a viable possibility. Yes, fansubbing can be reasonably dealt with, outside the shadow of law. I’m glad to run into blogs and editorials of people who are continuing this conversation, because I think it is helpful.

Granted, this is more like a pipe dream than something feasible in the near future, but it’s a start (or a checkpoint?) to the legitimization of fansubbing. To me, fansubbing is a thing that fans do–can we at least legitimize, well, fandom? In general? I don’t really care about specifically fansubbing all that much. This blog post is not just about the economics of it, as some people have previously thought. It’s about the way people live, or will live, in the future.

Here’s an example. I like CLAMP. They’re good at design, specifically. In fact they’ve made a name for themselves as designers in a competitive marketplace with notable power in their brand. Now insert genki-go-lucky, CLAMP-loving, cosplayer teen. Congrats, you just have witnessed the mind set of copyright infringement! I mean, this is probably the least sinister example. It doesn’t involve obscene stuff (porn), it doesn’t involve a tarnishing of CLAMP’s IP (I guess unless you’re an old, fat man trying to do a CCS cosplay or something? I dunno.), nobody loses money, and what’s more, it’s a widely accepted practice that is pretty kosher even in commercial venues. Everyone loves cosplayers, they make good centerpieces for conventions, sets the mood, and it makes great front page pictures for local newspapers.

Is casual, fan cosplaying fair use, however? It’s non-commercial and fairly transformative, but it’s a taking of the entirety and engaging in conduct that is, well, infringing in likely arenas of commercial practice by the rights holder (and the gap has already been bridged in some other instances). In other words, a lawyer could say to the fans that you can’t make and sew your own outfits to resemble these characters. You have to license the right to do so, or buy it from a commercial vendor who did. That is the sad state of affair today. Sure, perhaps if you are an individual there is no incentive for a copyright owner to go after you. But what if you want to start a cosplay cafe? Or sell doujinshi? Or make an AMV collective website and make money via donation and ads? And of course, form a fansub/scanlation organization? The list is long and growing, and it’s all copyright infringement (with a shaky fair use defense at best for them all). As fans do it on their own, they are protected by their own poverty and the inhibiting cost of a federal and/or international lawsuit (at least in the US). But it’s still copyright infringement and the law itself stands in the way between collaboration between the fans and the publishers that lives off the fans, even if neither side cares for it in this context. This legal divide is particularly evident with the debates and controversies surrounding the semiannual Comiket and the doujinshi culture, but the same legal problem comes up in other places too. Traditionally in the US authors and creators have gone after fanfiction writers that produced works they didn’t like, and even entities like Blizzard and Sony-Varent took legal action over fan uses of their MMORPG content they didn’t like.

This has nothing to do with an collaborative enterprise like open source coding, and the strength in public domain against the monopoly (and subsequent control) of proprietary code and patents. It doesn’t even have all that much to do about fighting to restore balance, the power of the past leeching away from the future of you and me in the name of “lol support the artists.” (Even if the end result is some kind of naughty kiddy porn? But don’t we have laws to address that in the parallel?) Fact remains Japanese (and Korean and Chinese and Vietnamese and whatever) animators are already some of the lowest paying workers in this industry, but did anyone or any organization do anything about it? Then again, the industry has plenty of other problems to worry about, and fans too should give all of this a damn (and we don’t).

It’s about legitimizing fandom. It’s about free speech, not free beer. The latter is just a side effect, that, I believe, will continue to exist until the end of time. Sure, the excuse “They Might Be Pirates” can justify the paranoid ways some media companies operated, but is it even a rational thing to do in light of expanding your revenue? Does it even work? Can anyone actually do anything about it? Like propping up the sinking city of Venice, or transplant it to an alien world? You get to keep your pristine world order but at what cost? (Maybe media company execs can use some iyashikei anime too?) I propose a cheaper alternative to fight this particular kind of piracy: legalize it.

Still, the first step about legitimizing fandom is to, well, be legit. Fans have to make a statement about our identity and our condition. For most people this means simply buy the anime you like (as well as the merchandise that you like). Assert your identity through commercial impact, like a good capitalist. As much as I detest R1 DVD art boxes and super LE $$$ releases (because they’re usually low quality from a design point of view, and you’re not getting what you are paying extra for), I buy them because I like it. Isn’t that how it is suppose to work? I have a figure of Haruhi Suzumiya riding high with her Gibson, because I thought that was a captivating imagery, not because I want to support Atelier-Sai and how it makes a living for sculptors riding on the coattails of other people’s intellectual properties. I don’t buy stuff just to “support the artist” because some artists out there are just not worth supporting, and you do better writing them a check as donation than to support them than via some 3rd party which takes a 80-98% cut of the money you give. Besides, what does it say about the artists working for those publishers anyways? The moment we start down that “support” road it becomes a moral and ethical quagmire that betrays the fundamental principle behind charging money for intellectual property: creators and publishers can charge money for it because their IP and services have intrinsic value.

To me that last sentence is the crux of the copyright debate. Fans have to value the stuff they like; if they don’t then we shouldn’t expect publishers and creators to value the stuff they produce. And vice versa–the middleman has to value the creators’ creations beyond merely “business as usual.” The popular misconception that strikes the chord of common conscience is just a hair off. In other words, sure, people should get paid for their labor, but crappy products from hard work is still worth crap, and you shouldn’t be forced to pay for it, even if people “consume” said crappy product the same way they do with a quality work in a mass media context. IP is not commodity like a bar of soap; it’s not like a pile of iPods stocked outside on the street. And the general failure to treat IP as, well, IP, is one of the worst remaining traces of the industrial revolution-era misconception holding back progress in the 21st century. And this is a sin repeated by fans (can we even call them fans?) and by the industry alike.

It’s almost like the objectification of women, except as applied to artistic expressions instead.

Can we just say “support the arts” instead of “support the artists”? I believe most people know the music or TV show they listen to or watch better than how either is produced and financed. Besides, may it be artists or consumers, the art is what we are ultimately after anyways. And ultimately I believe supporting the arts will support the artists indirectly, and that’s a truer reflection of how things really work.

And once you start to see things from “support the arts” perspective, it’s just a different world. And why things like legitimizing fandom becomes so important. As fans naturally we want to share what delights us, and we want to produce derivative works based on these things that delight us. A cursory view into history tells that is how anime companies started in the North America–fans who wanted to make it legit. It’s a history that has repeated itself times and again. It’s how human beings have done it in all of recorded history. It’s how we make more art. We just can’t outlaw that.

It’s also about working together, too. It’s pretty clear that people are willing to pay for anime, and pretty much mass media in general. The question is how to extract this money efficiently and give it to the people who produce anime, without making too much of an economic footprint that suppresses creativity. And I think fans are willing to work with companies in exploring new options to make this exchange of money for services work better. It’s natural to say that, at one extreme end, a guy can go around with a sawed-off shotgun and hold people up at gunpoint, demanding them to buy stuff; or at the other extreme just have people make and publish works for free for all, and take up a donation (although this does work for some businesses). It’s important, I believe, to have a rational dialog between publishers and consumers. It means people have to stop and listen–or else it’s just a shouting match, not a dialog. At any rate, this ongoing dialog will help to figure out what works for us as fans and businesses, and what doesn’t. A site like AoDVD, IMO, is what we need, but it shouldn’t just stop there. And of course we have other tools in our disposal beyond just that, and we should use them.

That’s not to mention many creators and animators are fans themselves, naturally. Invariably legitimizing fandom legitimizes creators, as well. I think this is a necessary step to incorporate and bring closer the distance between creators and people who appreciate those creators’ works. For example, the ongoing dispute (did it end?) between Rowling’s plans to publish an official Harry Potter encyclopedia clashed with plans to publish a book version of the Harry Potter Lexicon, the premiere fan site which even Rowling herself used as a reference in working on the books. It’s just another unfortunate example that the copyright industry we have in place today doesn’t jive with the shrinking distance between fandom and creators, squeezing and trespassing onto the middleman’s territory. Sure, thankfully this will never happen in the US for anime because most anime companies are poor, but it shouldn’t even be an issue. Imagine if Nausicaa.net decided to publish a book on Studio Ghibli and got shut down by Disney? Hmm, I guess it’s not impossible.

Anyways. In a nutshell, I think fans and companies can only work together to deal with issues like fansubbing and doujinshi when we honestly confront each other in a loving way; that we are only here today because we care about the anime/manga/game/whatever we like. The legal barrier that protects the rights of the licensees only gets in the way when it is not put in light of faith in the enterprise of artistic works, but focused merely on money gained and lost. It puts the fans on the defensive and the companies the shoes of oppressors when in reality they’re just between the frying pan and the fire. Fans may be able to say whatever they want but corporate execs can’t because of these laws. It’s not to say we should discard these rights, but rights and entitlement come with responsibility and hard work that justifies them. We need laws to encourage industry practices that bend but not break. It’s not an all-or-nothing proposition; with just limited rights you can still operate a simple business model of selling merchandises and DVDs effectively, and what good is it to sit on all the exclusive rights when you can’t even take advantage of the bulk of these rights?

So to sum it up: fight for your rights. When I say fight I don’t mean cause an argument or shoot people. In a Christian context resistance starts with a death of self in the service of love for other. It’s a fight against complacency and the convenience that robs creativity. It’s a fight against greed and against the principalities of this world (like how the past clamps onto the future). It’s only violent in love. Voting with your money speaks volume louder than a meager blog post (as the good book says, “for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also”). Louder still is the silent majority who choose to not spend any money for whatever the reason. But as fans you are obligated to preach what you are crazy about–that’s part of the job description. That’s why I’ve been prodding Momotato again and again, because while he hasn’t watch a lot of shows this past year (witnessed by the 50% reduction in post count), it serves as a barometer to the health of the industry. It also works well as a non sequitur to end this long rambling thing of a post.

11 Responses to “Legitimization of Your Fanboyish Behavior”

  • Avatar

    The key advance would have to come on the legal front.

    Don’t think that the Japanese have different copyright laws than we do, as far as allowing derivative works is concerned. The Japanese companies can stomp the hell out of individuals the same way a US creator can, and occasionally it happens. (I seem to remember one person who published some sort of vile Poke-porn getting hammered by Nintendo…)

    So what we’re looking for, then, is the thing that causes US creators to sue, and Japanese creators not to sue, when it comes to derivative works.

    That thing is fear of a lawsuit coming the other way. This is a serious concern in the US. Rowling doesn’t just have to worry about the potential market bite that the HP Lexicon might take out of her wallet. What happens if she publishes a book about the world of Harry Potter, and the writers of the Lexicon say “hey, you took our idea without giving us credit or asking or paying us anything”? Lawsuit. And then you’re stuck defending yourself against that kind of claim. Seriously, it’s not the sort of thing that should prevail in serious society, but it’s been tried before, and if all you have to fool is twelve people that couldn’t get out of jury duty…

    And so the authors sue first. You can’t infer that the author’s giving “implicit permission” (and thus authorization, and thus is committing infringement themselves upon the fan-work) by being silent on the issue if the author’s not silent on the issue. Of course the cases don’t proceed to trial – the author doesn’t really give a damn about getting money from the fan. They just want the fan to knock it off, to put in paper somewhere that they have absolutely no claims on the work whatsoever and no cause to go into court at a later date.

    If you took that case into a Japanese courtroom, the judge would squint at you, laugh, and tell you to get the hell out. (Realistically you’d never get that far, because the lawyer would do the same thing.) There’s your difference. The Japanese creators might not be happy that fan-derived works exist, in common or in particulars, but they don’t FEAR those works. They don’t represent a threat to the author’s living in Japan.

    So how do you get US authors/creators to get the same attitude? Give them the same kind of protection. Make it explicitly clear that no derivative work produced by a fan can be considered as an original work when it comes to possible infringement by the author. Make it clear that a fan using a character in no way reduces the author’s ownership of that character. Make it clear, in other words, that the author isn’t inviting a lawsuit five years from now if he backs off his hammers today.

    Ironically, this would be a case where actually giving the creator greater legal protection would lead to more tolerance of infringing activity. ;p It could also, theoretically, happen; the idea doesn’t impinge on any interest groups who would oppose it. There’s not even really a downside – there are very very few cases where an original author actually rips off one of their fans.

    I agree that letting the fan-stuff flower can result in good things. Just look at the 1632 series. Goes from one author to a collaboration to a full-on shared multiverse, the authors inviting fans to send in work, some of which gets published, and some of the authors of that fan-work have gone on to produce additional canon material with the original authors. How cool is that?

  • omo

    You are confusing the issue. America being a litigious society (and Japan is not) is one thing, giving more or less protection doesn’t change how sue-happy people could be.

    Because, as your off-the-cuff example would suggest, the Japanese judges would know better; where as in American we have, it seems, fairer judges.

    As it is always the case: more rights == more lawsuits. I don’t really think your solution works at all to solve even the problem you’re talking about. If the creators give up more rights, it would also diminish the rights of other suing you, right? More protection for everyone! OTOH having a lot of causes of action to sue others is good for the people who already have the rights, but it will be even more up to them to police it (and lose it). To me that seems like a pretty senseless public policy to go by in America, a land where you can be sued for any kind of commercial activity to begin with.

  • Avatar

    Yeah, but you miss the point. This isn’t expanding the things for which you can sue – it’s basically placing one of those areas out of bounds, that is, suing the creator of something you’ve created a fan-work of for infringing by copying your fan-work. “You got the idea of having someone fall in the Spring of Drowned Predator from my Predator/Ranma crossover fic! Imma sue!”

    Sure, you can file a suit for anything, but there are actions which are clearly not going to go anywhere and actions that are actually contestable – i.e. you need to spend time and resources to defend them, and not just say to the judge “punt this crank, will you?” At present, the above kind of suit is right on the edge – not really savory, per se, but not something the judge is going to just toss you out on your ear for.

    But we want those cases tossed out on their ear. The reason US authors/artists are as fast on the draw with the lawsuit for fan-type works as they are, is precisely because they’re worried about someone breaking out this kind of case. So long as someone can say “by not immediately suing the pants off this guy, you were telling him that it was all right to do what he was doing, and so the fact that the next book you were working on happens to look an awful lot like his fanfic means that you infringed on his ideas and owe him a ton of money!”… so long as that can be advanced, the author can’t afford to let a fan-fiction-happy environment flourish.

    It’s a stupid argument, though, so why not just cross it out? Then the author can sit back and say “oh well, it’s okay if they want to slash my characters in fic, so long as they keep buyin’,” and nobody needs to call in a lawyer. Sure, he might just be cantankerous, or object to a specific project (you should read Niven on the topic of fan-produced Kzin porn), but they don’t have to try to snuff it out in order to cover their own livelihoods down the line.

    ‘course, none of this would apply to fansubs anyway. That’s not the transformative kind of fan work that enriches the fandom, that’s just passing around the original work for free. They might meet the legal definition of a derivative work, but they don’t derive very far, if you know what I mean. It would, however, mean that stuff like doujin or music videos or fanfic would be okay…

  • omo

    “Yeah, but you miss the point. This isn’t expanding the things for which you can sue – it’s basically placing one of those areas out of bounds”

    And by removing it as a cause of action in copyright would do just that…? How am I missing your point? Read your own comments…?

    Fansubbing may not be much of a derivative thing, but a translation is still fair game. That’s how this anime beeswax started in the first place in the US. I do agree that there is no bright line here but my point is that we shouldn’t be in the business of drawing these kinds of lines in the first place.

    “Sure, you can file a suit for anything, but there are actions which are clearly not going to go anywhere and actions that are actually contestable”

    But it costs money to do anything. And to be frank most derivative-type counter-suits (as the one you had as an example) are not going to go anywhere if people could afford the same kind of lawyers. I think your point is still largely moot in the context we’re talking about.

  • Avatar

    I think we’re in danger of talking past each other here, so let me throttle back for a second.

    There are clearly two separate categories here. There’s infringement which constitutes distributing the actual work – the things that get called “piracy” – and then there’s infringement on the creator’s exclusive rights to the ideas contained in that work. Fansubbing is mostly in the first category. All of the other examples we’ve talked about (cosplay designs, doujin comics, fan-produced character goods, music videos, fanfic, stuff like that) fall into the second category.

    By and large, the second category is not comprehensively exploited by the creator. You might get some goods sold, but usually fan-produced goods in this category aren’t really in direct competition with products made by the original creators. And while there’s a theoretical market value associated with a license to produce such goods, for the scale of production generally associated with fan-produced goods, the value of that license is so small that it precludes negotiation altogether. (Basically, while you could theoretically “purchase” the rights to make a Moyashimon costume, there’s not really any overlap between “a fee you’d be prepared to pay for those rights” and “enough money to make it worth the creators’ time talking to you.”)

    Furthermore, works in this category are generally difficult to enjoy unless you’re also familiar with the original work. People who haven’t read Harry Potter are uninterested in the Harry Potter Lexicon, by and large. If you didn’t watch Eva, you generally don’t want a model of Eva-03. Nobody’s going to read your Inu-Yasha fanfic if they haven’t watched a bunch of Inu-Yasha.

    The other category is different. Here, the fan-produced works are very close in nature to the original work from which they are derived, and in direct economic competition with the original work. You don’t have to have watched the show in order to appreciate a fansub – it’s more like, appreciating the fansub constitutes watching the show!

    So in this post, you bring up arguments based on infringement of the second category, but you yourself aren’t -interested- in those infringements (and thus, not in a potential solution to possible legal issues related to those infringements.) You want to apply similar logic to infringements in the first category, and to put it bluntly, you conflate them into a single case when they’re clearly distinct in composition, effects, and attendant morality. This is why we’re not connecting – I tried to engage your post as if you were actually concerned about some of the problems you listed. ;p

    Let me put it this way. You talk about limiting copyright in certain fashion, because you believe that it would stimulate the kind of creative activity on the border that is embodied in the fan community. But as far as fansubs go, the right that we’re dealing with isn’t the right to make a work based on the ideas of the original work. We’re talking about the very core of copyright itself – the public license to exclusive rights over making copies of the work. Don’t kid yourself – you’re not asking for a limitation of copyright, you’re asking for it to be -gone-.

    I’m not saying that there are no possible models of the distribution of anime for free. Heck, Japan -has- one, through the various TV networks. It’s certainly possible that you could come up with a system of advertiser-funded anime distribution in the US as well, where companies put up translated episodes of their shows for free download, with some commercials inserted into the shows.

    However, that model is totally incompatible with the present state of the Japanese side of the industry (well, and the US one too, but let’s forget them for the moment.) Swapping to that sort of model would require a radical reorganization of the Japanese market for anime. This will not happen absent a large upheaval – basically, the market would have to almost totally crash first. Short of that, the potential impact on the bottom line of the relevant decision-makers will utterly preclude anything like this from happening.

    A market crash would be bad from the fan’s perspective in the short term – you’d have a few years with very, very little anime outside of Japanese family favorites like Doraemon. Is it worth that cost?

  • omo

    So you’re saying fansubbing is not the same as other derivative works because it has a substitution effect? I buy that. But on the flip side, I think from a business perspective it is still a matter of the size of the market. You did qualify your statement with that, which is why Bandai makes more money selling Gundam models than selling Gundam anime–just some counterexamples for you to think about–and why it’s a no-no to do exactly that on your own.

    In that framework, what matters is the economic displacement (and this is the framework adopted by the US Supreme court as one of the elements of the fair use test). And yes, in that sense I am saying that we can think of a better way than to look at economic displacement. Looking at the type and amount of economic activity, for example, is one alternative. And no, it doesn’t mean all copyright protection will effectively vanish–it is entirely possible that the middleman can make a living through leveraging the production and distribution of such works just like they did since we invented the printing press. Especially when it comes to anime, which requires a certain level of organization to produce.

    There are also the two aspects of fansubbing we’re talking about, which includes the translation and distribution bits. The latter is really what you are referring to. Region 1 anime companies, like Cospa or Alter, are just living off the same derivative rights, really, except that there’s an added service in having a local 3rd party distributing your work internationally which realizes value through better marketing and distribution (or in Cospa and Alter’s case, the workmanship). It’s not a surprise why the fansubbers always talk about “quality”–the added value to the work in which a commercial distribution gives to make it worth buying. It’s a social policy question as to rather if that is what society should be paying or, and it’s an economics question as to how much we should be paying for (or if the distinction is relevant or not).

    In light of the nature of copyright law, I still think it’s reasonable to tune it more in the note of regulating economic activities that are competing. Fansubbing is not really an economic activity, but it does cross into the distribution side of the copyright exclusive rights. It may create a “dead zone” between activities with very little commercial displacement (and thus “given up” to the fans) versus ones that are so big, the publishers are going to jump on it faster than the fans could. This is where you’re drawing the lines, right?

  • dm

    The fear of reverse lawsuit can be eliminated by requiring that the fan-works be released under a “Creative Commons” license — then the original creator can “plagiarize” without much fear (I suppose that they might be faced with a “hey, you stole my idea!” argument if they come close to some CC-licensed thing they’d never seen, but that should be fixable with a note: ‘It has come to my attention that this work is very similar to …’).

    Another possibility might be to take Jonathan Lethem’s approach with his Promiscuous Materials project (that’s http://www.jonathanlethem.com/promiscuous_materials.html) if WordPress breaks its preview-promise of showing the link): basically, “here are some story ideas that small theaters can turn into plays or films without the hassle of haggling much over rights if they follow these simple conditions”.

    I guess the question would then be: what happens to something like Lo’s Diary or The wind done gone? Feh. Those works would do okay via Creative Commons, not a problem. The writers and publishers would be richer for not having to pay legal fees fending off suits from the Nabokov and Mitchell estates.

    On the other hand, there are a lot of suits of the form: “Hey, I submitted a manuscript involving Jesus’s secret family and the Vatican library to a college literary magazine that Dan Brown edited!” Not fan-works, but other-works. Indeed, I suspect there are more of those.

    But I agree with Avatar, for the most part. These sorts of things have very little to do with fansubs, as much as they have to do with doujinshi and fan-fiction. Fan translations, on the other hand — such that you could feed to a DVD player playing a purchased DVD to produce sub-titled anime — is a different story.

    As far as economic activity is concerned — as I was saying over at Jeff’s place, the R1 Anime distributors have a problem. Even devoted fans can’t simultaneously spend very much on anime DVDs and actually watch them. $1000/year is near the top of the limit, unless you go the Limited-Edition-with-Tchotchkes route (how did those Haruhi volumes sell, I wonder). That being the case, the only solution is to create more fans.

  • Avatar

    I hate to go monopolizing the comment thread here – if anyone else wants to play, hop in. ;p

    I’m willing to argue (or more like, I did argue, more than ten years ago) that distributing a translation of an anime is, from a moral perspective, completely different from distributing that translation already subtitled onto the show. But that’s not really relevant these days – even if you just release your timing file, you can be sure it will be put to video and torrented in a matter of hours by some other fan. ;p

    I’m not exactly sure what sort of test you’d favor, if you don’t like the economic displacement test. “Faster” isn’t a word that belongs in this discussion – the law, of course, does not care if you have to wait a few months for your foreign-language entertainment, and would consider such a wait being used as your justification as silly. So would you mind elucidating a little more on your thoughts on the topic? You’re not satisfied with the current test (largely because it precludes the activity you want to justify – you haven’t really come up with any reasons why an economic displacement test is bad on its face), but without any sort of justification for a different way of looking at it, it’s not something you can really respond to. If you’re pushing for a legal change, we need to know what the change you want IS; then we can evaluate whether it’s worth doing or not.

  • omo

    The moral aspect is a bit of irrelevant herring. What would you say to Japanese file-sharing people? Even if it’s done to circumvent broadcast lag or availability? Not everyone in Japan can get every channel with anime on it still. Publishing with regional imitation is one of the most base line economic decision there is, and one of the most fundamental copyright rights that’s open to attack. For example, if your work was first fixed in tangible expression in Iran, it’s not protected in the US–it’s totally irrelevant to any kind of moral positioning. Same with Japanese’s decision of not selling a title to a different region, leaving that region (may it be Okinawa or Oslo) SOL, and the fans there to their own devices. The “moral” dimension of this debate is, as I see it, misguided and bankrupt generally because it’s a mere exercise of min-maxing $ and doing it while keeping most of our sacred notions of creativity intact. Somehow the cost of a lawsuit became the tipping point.

    Practically speaking, people don’t watch raw anime. So no matter if you release just a sub or a subtitled, complete product, the effect is the same when you don’t.

    “Faster” here means that the license holder is already capitalizing on a particular market. For example certain titles (like Gundam shows) we can expect a wide-area distribution to major media markets, or like the next Pixar family film will see toys made along with a video game. The economic potential of a franchise is basically limitless, but the degree of economic exploitation is limited by the extent how much you want to milk the franchise. Or in some cases, by inventive, new ways to make money with the same cash cow. Not everyone can get their anime logo on an iPod sold by Apple, so why stop fans from doing it themselves with shows that will never make it? You can still sue bootleggers who are doing it for $ and in a commercial sense, but it frees fans from doing and worrying from being bullied into a “preferred” mode of media consumption.

    One sense of what I’m proposing is simply eliminate the whole “bridge the gap” aspect of copyright protection. You’re either doing it already (selling Mizuho Coke), or you are not (within a reasonable time period). Another way to do it is the use of some kind of “commons” in which noncommercial use of the works is allowed and derivative use freely allowed. The publisher can pick and choose, depending on how big their market is, which venue to select; or to move from a restricted one to a less-restricted one.

  • dm

    I am really interested in the Touhou phenomenon (and, to a lesser degree, some of the doujinshi adaptations of Type Moon material). A whole fan sub-culture producing musical arrangements, doujinshi, doujinshi game adaptations, music videos, even a few proto-animations (and a ton of Flash animation).

    There’s something happening there that I think we will see more of as time passes.

  • dm

    PS., see this interview with FUNimation founder and CEO Gen Fukunaga. The best news (from my perspective) regards sub-only releases: “We are going to be doing that in the download-to-own area, digitally, because historically, those don’t turn enough to get it on retail shelves. The cost of the inventory and producing them and getting them out to retail hasn’t panned out because of the lower turns. With download, you don’t have those side issues, so we’re definitely going to do it in download.”

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