Movie Industry Overreaction: Attacking Fan Subbers

from the how-does-this-make-sense? dept

We've wondered in the past why the movie industry tries to shut down fansub efforts. It makes no sense. These projects tend to increase attention for a particular movie by making it accessible to those who couldn't enjoy the movie before. And yet, once again, we see stories of movie studios going after sites that are doing free labor for the studios in helping them translate the movies into other languages. In this case, they're demanding hundreds of thousands of dollars from three people who helped translate a bunch of films, and run a site for more such fansubs. What a world we live in when those who do free labor for you are worthy of being sued for huge cash amounts.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 14th, 2009 @ 5:04pm

    "We've wondered in the past why the movie industry tries to shut down fansub efforts"

    Because they are morons.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    icon
    DJ (profile), Sep 14th, 2009 @ 5:05pm

    You don't know?

    It's because we clearly are not capable of thinking for ourselves. We MUST have our entire lives legislated for us.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    icon
    ChurchHatesTucker (profile), Sep 14th, 2009 @ 5:17pm

    Waitaminute

    What about the creative (if derivative) work that goes into things like fansubs? Why are we geared up to toss that creative effort down the memory hole?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    icon
    Dark Helmet (profile), Sep 14th, 2009 @ 5:17pm

    Question

    Did the companies filing suit offer any reason for their action? I would expect something along the lines of that those fansubs are primarily used in pirated material viewed overseas, but I'm not sure.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Sep 14th, 2009 @ 5:29pm

      Re: Question

      How would you argue that though?

      Studio: "You are pirating all our work, how dare you?"

      FS: "We translate into languages in which the studios refuse to acknowledge so that those of our country can enjoy the films."

      Studio: "Yea, well, if not for your piracy we would translate the films to (whatever), but piracy rates are to high."

      FS: "Okay, show us. Prepare a native language release, and we will remove the files."

      Studio: "That does not work. Someone else will pirate it. We refuse to translate our work for a nation of pirates."

      FS: "So we will."

      Studio: "Piracy! Your killing our market!"

      FS: "What market, you refuse to translate to our language!"

      And you know, so on... so yes, maybe fansubs are used to view pirate material over seas, because the content is not legally available, because the pirates chased the studio away since the studio refused to service the market creating the only source to be...

      Unless you can point at the single instant where either
      A) A group fansubbed due to the complete refusal to translate
      or
      B) The studio canceling a sub because of a fansub group

      They are just arguing in circles. And how do you decide who is at fault when they argue in convincing circles all day?

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      •  
        icon
        Dark Helmet (profile), Sep 14th, 2009 @ 5:35pm

        Re: Re: Question

        I don't think that's even the argument. It's more along the lines of:

        Studio: You're translations into text files are being used in pirated material!

        FS: Maybe. All we're doing is translating though.

        Studio: But the people using your translations are PIRATING!

        FS: Probably. We're still just translating. Ain't nothing illegal about that, boyos.

        Studio: B-but...pirates! Terrorism! Lost tax revenue for America to fight glorious wars! Illegalness! Prostitution! Whaddya say, yer honor?

        Judge: I think you guys are batshit crazy, that's what I think.

        Studio: APPEAL!!!!

         

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        •  
          icon
          DJ (profile), Sep 14th, 2009 @ 5:46pm

          Re: Re: Re: Question

          Yeah I'd put small sums of money into betting that's the court transcript of some of these cases; with one exception. A couple have ended with:

          Judge: You're right!

          FS: @#%#$^@@$^%!!!!!!

           

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        •  
          identicon
          Anonymous Coward, Sep 14th, 2009 @ 5:47pm

          Re: Re: Re: Question

          Unfortunately translations are explicitly mentioned in copyright law as being derivative works that are cover by copyright. Not that I agree with what the studios are doing, but you can't say it's not illegal.

           

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          •  
            icon
            Dark Helmet (profile), Sep 14th, 2009 @ 5:51pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Question

            "Unfortunately translations are explicitly mentioned in copyright law as being derivative works that are cover by copyright. Not that I agree with what the studios are doing, but you can't say it's not illegal."

            Is that true if they're not used commercially? Meaning that I can't translate a Spanish novel into English for shits and giggles? It's difficult to understand if, and even more so why that would be illegal....

             

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            •  
              identicon
              The Re:Question A-C, Sep 14th, 2009 @ 6:44pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Question

              Because only the interested parties with money get to make... erm influence the laws.

              Keep in mind, that copyright (to my non-law degree holding mind) grants the holder exclusive rights to NOT market, and to go after anyone who would make available that which he or she created but does not want out. Your copyright gives you the exclusive right to NOT sell it, and force no one else to sell it. (Except in case of fair use and second hand, but there is fights against that too I am sure.)

              As such, if you wrote a book called 'Dark Helmet's Global Domination Plans', but wrote it in, oh I don't know, uhh... Ewok, you have the exclusive right to dictate that it NOT be translated to any readable language. Hell, there might even be problems translating it for your own pleasure to read it, even if you do not release the translations, because that is a 'derivative work', and it does not have to be commercial to be 'illegal'.

              Again, only as far as my non laywerness knows.

               

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

              •  
                icon
                Dark Helmet (profile), Sep 14th, 2009 @ 7:00pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Question

                "if you wrote a book called 'Dark Helmet's Global Domination Plans', but wrote it in, oh I don't know, uhh... [Yogurtese]"

                Fixed that for you.

                In the words of the all knowing, all powerful Yogurt:

                "Mechandizing, merchandizing! We put the name of the movie on EVERYTHING!!!"

                Yogurt. I hate YOGURT....even with strawberries.

                 

                reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

              •  
                identicon
                hegemon13, Sep 15th, 2009 @ 8:09am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Question

                Translating it for personal use is perfectly legal. Distributing those translations is infringement, even if no profit is made.

                However, this is an example where the studios would be much smarter to exercise their option NOT to sue. In fact, if they were smart, they would use fansub download statistics (usually easily accessible as a "Downloaded" quantity posted next to the subs on the site) as a marketing tool. If fansubs for a certain show have a lot of downloads, there is probably a good market for that show. Contrary to their silly beliefs, the anime market spends a LOT of money on media, and many would pay for the DVD/Blu-ray in order to get better picture quality and professionally translated subs/dubs.

                 

                reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        •  
          identicon
          Anonymous Coward, Sep 14th, 2009 @ 9:42pm

          Re: Re: Re: Question

          LOL

           

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 14th, 2009 @ 5:27pm

    Ok, I haven't read the article, but to my knowledge there are two types of fansubs out there: "soft" subs and "hard" subs, where the first means the subs are just a text file with subtitles and timings, while the second means the subs are compressed into the movie and put online.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    icon
    John Duncan Yoyo (profile), Sep 14th, 2009 @ 5:30pm

    Perhaps they need to follow the Rifftrax model. Release an MP3 that you listen to concurrently while watching the film.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 14th, 2009 @ 5:52pm

    A very different reaction, the companies who bring over Japanese visual novels to the English speaking world decided to hire fan translators who were working on games they licensed, instead of sending C&D letters.

    http://novelnews.net/2009/07/17/jast-usa-is-working-with-fan-translators-for-nitro-titles/

    Th e owner of Jast quote from the article

    "We’re open to having any talented translators help us with the game translations, regardless of their place in the fan community. Bottom line, anyone who wants to help and c'an do a smooth, professional translation will be considered."


    Also, another company (MangaGamer) involved in the business offered jobs to the translators of another visual novel, although the fan translators turned it down for a variety of reasons.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 14th, 2009 @ 7:17pm

    Crunchyroll (which hurts my eyes), hires fansubbers to do their translations, and a few companies hire fansubbers when they agree not to fansub whilst working for them (very few people do this).

    Some companies don't really care and some--funimation--go a bit overboard with C&D letters from time to time, but it never really changes anything.

    Also see: http://www.mod16.org/hurfdurf/?p=61 , http://www.mod16.org/hurfdurf/?p=52 , http://www.animenewsnetwork.com/convention/2008/fansubs-and-industry-panel

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Sep 15th, 2009 @ 7:34am

      Re:

      Mainly, with Anime/Manga, fansubbers remove all available files for the material once that material is legally available in the US, too. Once fans can buy it in their chosen language, they do! Even if they've got fansubbed titles on their computers.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 14th, 2009 @ 9:49pm

    This should sorta be a freedom of speech issue. In order for me to have the freedom to be exposed to and argue against speech that I disagree with I need to be able to see/hear/read that speech in some language that I'm familiar with. Imagine if everyone in congress, for instance, all spoke a foreign language and all laws were written in some foreign language that hardly anyone knew (well, they sorta are, lawyers speak a different jargon than the rest of the population)? It would be devastating. Imagine if someone sued you and both the prosecution and the judge spoke a different language than you and you had no translator to translate so you can't defend yourself? It's sorta the same thing (this is only an analogy and has shortcomings) and if someone wants to present a certain movie or documentary to you and perhaps its views or maybe a blog and translate it to your language for you to understand and for them to be able to argue their viewpoint about it (and for you to counter argue perhaps) maybe there should be certain exceptions? To the extent that language barriers interfere with political speech there should be no artificial scarcities (ie: intellectual property) getting in the way of a translation.

    Then again, a mistranslation of something could potentially get a company in trouble if someone got offended by the mistranslation?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    icon
    techflaws.org (profile), Sep 15th, 2009 @ 3:26am

    What damages?

    I've already asked this when submitting this story (thanks Mike): what kinda of damages are the studios claiming?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    icon
    FatGiant (profile), Sep 15th, 2009 @ 5:31pm

    Why?

    I am a translator of subtitles for tv shows.
    I helped create and mantain a team of translators.

    In our 3 and a half years of existance, as team, we've translated hundreds of subtitltles, thus helping those shows to become more popular, and increased their value, both commercilly and artistically.

    We don't charge for our services. We do it because we love to do it. We do it because it helps us get better in both languages. We do it because we can and doing it helps others that can't. We do it with absolutelly NO interest in money.

    How it's used, it's not our problem.

    To do it, we use transcripts created by other fans, that we make a point to aknowledge. Not because we MUST, but because it's FAIR. We only ASK the same courtesy.

    To this day, I've never even stopped to think if there's any kind of illegality or infringment in this, and I think I never will. I started doing it because some shows I wanted to watch with my family, didn't have subtitles in the languages we ALL could read. I still do it mainly for them, I just changed from family, to, who ever may be interested.

    The thing is, I, we, don't really need the subtitles. But, being able to do something that we know it will give someone the chance to enjoy something that was otherwise impossible, and, doing it is FUN and Chalenging and teaches us new things every day, I really can't think of a reason NOT to do it.

    Anyway, I will never stop, even if they try to make us pay. The only ones that will suffer are the ones that will not get their subtitles. Will they still watch the show? Will that show be worth the same? After burning us on the stake for it, will they be respected for it?

    One other small thing, why shows must be TV Shows? Why should great stories and spetacular shows be dependent of the whims of TV's bureaucrats? Isn't it time to get rid of Yet Another Stupid Businness Model?

    Stream it, with ads, publish it for free with ads, ask for fansubs and get rid of TV execs that are in the businness of producing ad spaces by inserting anything in the middle. If that "anything" attracts viewers they charge more for the ads, if not, they change it for "something" that will.

    The total disregard for their consumers, will kill them, if a new competitor arrives.

    I just don't know what's keeping them.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Save me a cookie
  • Note: A CRLF will be replaced by a break tag (<br>), all other allowable HTML will remain intact
  • Allowed HTML Tags: <b> <i> <a> <em> <br> <strong> <blockquote> <hr> <tt>
Follow Techdirt
A word from our sponsors...
Essential Reading
Techdirt Reading List
Techdirt Insider Chat
A word from our sponsors...
Recent Stories
A word from our sponsors...

Close

Email This