Comcast Forgets To Delete Evidence It's Using Evil Fansubs In Its Streaming Service

from the oops dept

The war on fan-made subtitles waged by the entertainment industry has been going on for a long, long time. While fansubs could, and probably should, be viewed as a potential boon to the entertainment industry, allowing those in far-flung lands to suddenly enjoy its products, fansubs have instead been painted as an aid to pirated content overseas or, in some cases, as copyright infringement themselves, given that they essentially copy parts of the content scripts.

If nothing else is clear as a result of this introduction, it should be that major industry players absolutely hate fansubs.

... Except when they can make use of them, apparently, as Comcast-owned Swiss broadcaster Sky had been found using fansubs in its streaming service in the dumbest way possible.

Subscribers of the local Sky platform who watch the last episode of the hit series Chernobyl, with English subtitles enabled, see the following message appearing around the five-minute mark.

“- Synced and corrected by VitoSilans – www.Addic7ed.com.”

Addic7ed.com is a fansub site. Asked for comment, reps for the site said they didn't care at all that Sky was using their work. Instead, they claim to have started the site to get content out to more people so that specific language wasn't a barrier to enjoyment. Still, it must have been at least slightly jarring to see Sky essentially forget to strip out Addic7ed's signature for its own work. Using someone else's work as one's own by way of copying it is about as close an analogy to copyright infringement as one could get.

Sky, meanwhile, ain't talking.

Sky Switzerland hasn’t responded to our request for comment at the time of publication. Whether the Addic7ed credit was left in intentionally is highly doubtful though. It seems more likely that someone forgot to remove it.

In any case, the mention hasn’t gone unnoticed either. At least one person has alerted Sky via Twitter, but the company didn’t respond there either.

It's the hypocrisy here that's worth highlighting, because the industry regularly rails against fansub sites and here is a member of that industry using them in its own product.

Filed Under: copyright, fansubs, streaming
Companies: comcast, sky


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  1. icon
    Mason Wheeler (profile), 17 Jun 2019 @ 9:45am

    Still, it must have been at least slightly jarring to see Sky essentially forget to strip out Addic7ed's signature for its own work. Using someone else's work as one's own by way of copying it is about as close an analogy to copyright infringement as one could get.

    To be fair, though, it's possible they didn't forget at all. If they had used it and deleted the signature, that would potentially have been clear-cut copyright infringement, depending on the terms under which the fansub was released. Here, though, they've taken something that was made available for free, used it as it was intended to be used, and provided proper attribution for the person(s) whose work they made use of. There's an irony-angle story here ("oh look at how these guys thought fansubs were soooooo evil until they found out they could be useful!") but I don't see any way this is a "they did something wrong" story.

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

  2. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 17 Jun 2019 @ 11:09am

    Re:

    Despite the bar for copyrightability being incredibly low, it's a real stretch to consider timing and OCR/spelling corrections copyrightable. The time at which something was said is a fact, and "correct" English spelling leaves little room for interpretation.

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

  3. icon
    Gary (profile), 17 Jun 2019 @ 11:11am

    Re:

    but I don't see any way this is a "they did something wrong" story.

    There were using Fansubs which they have decried is illegal, so that's hypocritical of them. And from what I read at TorrentFreak, they deleted some but not all of the fansub credits as if they deleted some but not all of the credits - so they tried to scrub it and failed. (Can't verify that, my Swedish is rusty.)

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

  4. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 17 Jun 2019 @ 11:11am

    Re:

    I don't see any way this is a "they did something wrong" story.

    Were you an anime IP copyright holder, the problem would be as plain as day. Though still not lip sync'd.

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

  5. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 17 Jun 2019 @ 11:19am

    This is like that time they discovered NES was rereleasing Super Mario Bros on the NES Mini/Classic using a rom that had a header from a emulation group in the file.

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

  6. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 17 Jun 2019 @ 11:28am

    it's the industries lack of subs that should be investigated as being discriminatory towards those with hearing disabilities! if they dont want to do it, them the industries should definitely allow fansubs on ALL visual media!

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

  7. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 17 Jun 2019 @ 11:33am

    Re: Re:

    Why? Translations of books are copyrightable.

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

  8. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 17 Jun 2019 @ 11:38am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Yeah, there's lots of room for creativity in translations, but VitoSilans wasn't claiming a translation credit.

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

  9. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 17 Jun 2019 @ 11:38am

    Actually, correct English spelling leaves plenty of room for interpretation... as the Americans haven't managed it since 1776.

    God Save The Queen!

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

  10. icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), 17 Jun 2019 @ 11:57am

    Re:

    But the copyright cartels see the disabled as not customers.

    Look at the fight about the blind being able to have access to screen reading in kindles & such, the screaming about how it was copyright infringement and would destroy books forever!!!
    The blind should be perfectly happy to wait until we think we might release a braille version of a book at a nice mark-up.

    Just because they mastered a 'special' version of "Up" for rental that had no closed captions is just their way of saying 'Fuck you, pay us' to the hearing impaired who might have liked to rent the movie about an old man with a hearing impairment, rather than have to buy the plastic disc to be included.

    Why do fan subs exist??
    The cartels will scream its the evil evil pirates just trying to rob them.
    The fansubbers will tell you that much of the content released is translated by Bing Translate fed to Google Translate fed to Ask Jeeves. Many of the jokes & insights are lost when translated by a non-native speaker.

    Image of Voice Actors recording their lines, by reading fabsubbed captions from the big screen goes here.gif (yes it exists and IIRC it was at Funamation)

    Subtitles cost money to create & they feel they can't get a good enough return on the investment. They can't dare reach out to fansubbers (WHO ARE DOING THIS FOR FREE) for assistance b/c they declared war on these superfans who make the content more accessible making more fans.

    They keep releasing shitty subs, trying to crush people making them better for free, & consider... either SwissSky didn't acquire the rights to Chernobyl the right way or the provided subs were so shitty they had to get an unofficial source so their viewers could understand the show.

    But then I've been yelling that they need to stop subdividing the world into small pieces & treat it as a global market. Stop wasting money remastering plastic discs for different markets, save that money. But then they are sure that someone will figure out they can buy it off the shelf in Liberia for $5 US while it sells for $50 in the US & the entire economy will die.

    I mean I never had to acquire plastic discs from different regions to get shows I liked that the rights are all screwed up for or were released looking like a 5 yr old mastered the discs in my region... or wait I have.

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

  11. identicon
    Rocky, 17 Jun 2019 @ 12:27pm

    Re: Re:

    Switzerland != Sweden

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

  12. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 17 Jun 2019 @ 12:37pm

    Re:

    "God Save The Queen!"

    Why?

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

  13. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 17 Jun 2019 @ 12:49pm

    Re:

    Here, though, they've taken something that was made available for free, used it as it was intended to be used, and provided proper attribution for the person(s) whose work they made use of.

    The only time attribution is relevant to copyright infringement is if the material is licensed under terms which require attribution. Otherwise, it is completely irrelevant. Nothing about attribution or lack thereof makes copyright infringement "clear cut." Failing to properly attribute does make one an asshole though.

    Since they clearly didn't negotiate a license themselves, the only other option is that the original material was released under some form of creative commons (or equivalent) license which requires attribution (not creative commons licenses do). Funnily enough, Addic7ed doesn't care about copyright at all, and has neglected to include any such license... which actually means (assuming that this is actually copyrightable material) that Sky did infringe the copyright. They could be claiming a fair use defense defense, though fair use does not de jure require attribution either (though in practical terms a jury may be less inclined to favor you if you're an asshole who doesn't attribute).

    Attribution is highly relevant to plagiarism though.

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

  14. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 17 Jun 2019 @ 12:59pm

    What Do You Expect...Their name Rhymes with "Bombast"?

    Comcast, putting the "con" in "consistency" for over 50 years!

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

  15. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 17 Jun 2019 @ 1:04pm

    Re:

    American TV shows will use American spelling. Not modern UK spelling, Old English, or anything else. There's some room but not "plenty".

    So, are "Addic7ed" and "VitoSilans" meant to be two separate credits? Did they have anything to do with translation, or did they just correct an official one?

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

  16. icon
    Gary (profile), 17 Jun 2019 @ 1:19pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Switzerland != Sweden

    I realized this moments after hitting Submit. :)

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

  17. icon
    ECA (profile), 17 Jun 2019 @ 1:20pm

    Re:

    Love Fansubs..
    A release is great when in 1 week, there is Subtitles done, where in the USA distribution system it takes about 6 months.
    there are problems with the system tho, as sometimes the Sub, may not be the best.

    SKY, May have a problem tho. As was the Movie RELEASED in that area yet. Which is another problem with the Current system.
    REGION CODES and Distribution cycles, SUCK ALL TO HELL..
    Some movies are even re-dubbed, because of Culture reasons. translated differently for eavery section of the world, Just cause we dont want to Piss off people, Even games are like this. Its stupid and weird.

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

  18. icon
    That One Guy (profile), 17 Jun 2019 @ 1:35pm

    Much cheaper and easier that way you know

    Sky Switzerland hasn’t responded to our request for comment at the time of publication. Whether the Addic7ed credit was left in intentionally is highly doubtful though. It seems more likely that someone forgot to remove it.

    In any case, the mention hasn’t gone unnoticed either. At least one person has alerted Sky via Twitter, but the company didn’t respond there either.

    Well of course they haven't responded yet, they're waiting for someone else to release a statement on the issue that they can then proceed to 'borrow' and use for free.

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

  19. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 17 Jun 2019 @ 1:54pm

    Re:

    it's the industries lack of subs that should be investigated as being discriminatory towards those with hearing disabilities!

    HBO (this is an HBO series), as a US cable channel, is already required to provide captions.

    Most major US streaming services have agreed to provide them, via lawsuit settlements or private agreements. HBO isn't one of them: "Soon after, Netflix agreed to caption 100% of its streaming content by September 30, 2014. Since then, the NAD has also entered into agreements with Apple, Vudu, Amazon, Gogo, and Hulu".

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

  20. identicon
    Rekrul, 17 Jun 2019 @ 2:58pm

    The copyright industry says fan subs are illegal because they copy the dialog from the movie. OK. I wonder how they'd feel if groups started putting out fan subs for movies that included all new, silly dialog made up by the fan subber and then those movies started to get bad word of mouth in other countries for having bad writing.

    I'm sure they wouldn't be happy about people panning a film based on watching it with someone else's made up dialog, but as the dialog isn't copied from the film, they couldn't claim it was copyright infringement. If they complained about the fake subs ruining the movie experience and giving their film a bad reputation, the fan subber could say "Well, I would have translated it accurately, but you didn't want me to do that."

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

  21. icon
    Thad (profile), 17 Jun 2019 @ 3:43pm

    Re:

    The copyright industry says fan subs are illegal because they copy the dialog from the movie.

    Well, them and court precedent, at least in the US.

    I'm sure they wouldn't be happy about people panning a film based on watching it with someone else's made up dialog, but as the dialog isn't copied from the film, they couldn't claim it was copyright infringement.

    That strikes me as legally kosher, yes, so long as the subs were distributed without the movie.

    Sort of like a Rifftrax Just-the-Jokes MP3, except text-based.

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

  22. icon
    JoeCool (profile), 17 Jun 2019 @ 4:20pm

    Re: Re:

    Because Mario only saves princesses.

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

  23. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 17 Jun 2019 @ 6:06pm

    I have a 10-year-old who has some language processing challenges. She loves watching her favorite movies with subtitles. They help her with her reading by training her to recognize words and phrases in one glance rather than sounding them out.

    Ordinary closed captioning and DVD/Blu-Ray subtitle options are inaccurate, look horrible, and don't work very well on my hardware, so I create my own hardsub (burned-in subtitle) versions of her favorite movies. I rely on fansub sites to find high-quality subtitle files; there are no other alternatives.

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

  24. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 17 Jun 2019 @ 7:53pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    And Switzerland has four official languages, there isn't one called "Swiss".

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

  25. icon
    Seegras (profile), 17 Jun 2019 @ 10:54pm

    Re: Re:

    Because of historical confusion. It was King in 1776, of course. King George III that is.

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

  26. icon
    Seegras (profile), 17 Jun 2019 @ 11:03pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Could be worse. I got a parcel via Swaziland. Took nearly a year for the detour.

    And the official languages here in Switzerland are German, French, Italian and Romansh; in this case it's about either English or German subtitles

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

  27. icon
    PaulT (profile), 18 Jun 2019 @ 2:10am

    Re:

    "Here, though, they've taken something that was made available for free, used it as it was intended to be used"

    Have they really? I wouldn't have thought that national broadcast TV was what the had in mind when they made the subs.

    "provided proper attribution"

    Attribution is important, but it seems like that was a mistake and they don't always do that. Plus, I doubt that they'd be OK with nothing but attribution for their work if the tables are turned.

    "I don't see any way this is a "they did something wrong" story"

    Even ignoring the hypocrisy, you have at the very least supposed professionals in the industry half-assing a solution because it's easier to grab someone else's work than do it themselves. Even if they weren't saying to people that it's OK for them to do something for commercial use that the rest of us can't use for DVDs we own, it's still shoddy work.

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

  28. icon
    PaulT (profile), 18 Jun 2019 @ 2:14am

    Re: Re:

    The issue with fansubs isn't just whether or not subs exist at all, it's quality and availability. Quality, because quite often fan translators are motivated to do a better job than the official ones (not always, but there can be a marked difference.

    The second issue is that the industry still bases its business models on parcelling up the world into bite sized pieces and selling each piece what they think they want. So, if you want to watch content that's not in the language of the place you live in, or are trying to learn the language where you are but need subs from another language to help you out, you quite often have to go to the web.

    Even if the major streamers are forced to have subs, that doesn't mean they'll always have the ones you actually want...

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

  29. icon
    Gerald Robinson (profile), 18 Jun 2019 @ 10:42am

    EU/Swis law

    EU copyright requires "moral rights" of public domain material to be respected by the user. www.Addic7ed.com material is explicitly public domain so Sky is legally obliged to give credit.

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

  30. identicon
    Ben, 18 Jun 2019 @ 10:49am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    No wonder his rusty Swedish didn't help him.

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


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