In Praise of Scan Girls

Yeah, I read a few scanlations, but I also buy the printed English version if it’s licensed and published, and if I just can’t stand it, I’ll even buy the Japanese version. No, I can’t read Japanese, but the pictures tell most of the story. And the scanlations often have a note urging readers to support the mangaka (creator) by buying whatever version of the work is commercially on sale. That’s no hardship for me because I love the feel of a book in my hands. But if there are only scanlations, then I will read the scanlations and hope I can eventually read it in book form.

In the course of reading these scanlations in undisclosed locations, I became aware of a most wonderful thing: communities of manga loving females devoting their time, talents, and energy to producing this work, and producing it well enough, for other likeminded, non-Japanese reading females. I became very impressed by the camaraderie and professionalism of these groups offering new members a chance improve their Japanese, editing, or visual editing skills. I’m not a joiner, but this is one club I’d love to be in if I had the time, talents or energy for it. The scan groups, as they call themselves, have often been the catalyst for getting certain Japanese works licensed and published in the U.S. In every case that I’ve seen that happen, the scan groups do the following things:

1. A gracious note reporting the happy event.

2. A link to the publisher site and encouragement to buy the book when it’s published.

3. A notice that the scanlation files would no longer be available.

Of the communities I follow, I have never seen it be otherwise. (I am aware that there some unscrupulous places on the web that host scans they did not create, refuse to remove scans they did not create, and raise $900/month in donations to ruin the party for everyone, but they are not the subject of this essay, so they shall remain unnamed.) The civil society of the internet succeeds with success in the scanlation communities of my experience and I salute them. In many cases, this means a scanlation community will destroy years of work to support the publisher and the mangaka’s publication in English.

So you can imagine how distressed I was when I learned that one, possibly two, of my favorite scan groups were being attacked with DMCA (digital millennium copyright act [aka the Disney copyright grab act]) notices to their filehosting site and possibly their webhosts and were being reported to Google for TOS violations. Filehosts, webhosts, Google and their ilk do not generally have the time or resources to investigate allegations; they just shut the sites down when the get a complaint.

I was distressed squared when I learned that the culprits were the company run by a man I respect very much, the CEO of Digital Manga Publishing (DMP), Hikaru Sasahara. A few years ago, began a company called Digital Manga Guild (DMG); a collaboration between DMP and Japanese translators (many of them former scanlators) to produce ebooks of manga. The interesting part of this arrangement was that the people doing the work would not get paid unless the ebooks sold enough copies. (See Digital Manga Guild: Smells like Exploitation! for better financial analysis than I can do here.)

On March 3, 2012, this innocent thread started on the DMG forum: Dealing with scanlations of your titles, (here’s a pdf if the posts vanish GM) and ultimately snowballed into these from Shroud (Kimiko Kotani):

“Actually, as a member of the Guild, I have sent file sharing sites, blog hosts, etc as DMG has asked us to help combat the piracy by sending C and D’s, that means they HAVE given us permission to request on their behalf.

“The result was not only did filesharing sites take down where fans had uploaded files they had DL elsewhere, but Google removed search results to aggregators and such so that search results show only the legal listings. And yes, it is best to ask scanlators and bloggers and the like to take down the links and files themselves politely and informally first. But don’t be afraid to go further if you get ignored by anyone you contact. DMG asked us to send C and d req, and the polite thing Ben suggested is fine for an informal req but is in no way legally inforceable using that language, but since they have given permission AND requested we actually send a C and Ds for our titles, you can do so to the blog host, filesharing site, server host, etc. If a formal DMCA gets ignored or challenged by these, then ultimately DMP who has to decide how to take it further since the issued DMCA was on their behalf, and you’ll have to let them know so they can decide what to do. And that’s the crux of it. YOU are not the rights holder but you ARE the production partner DMP have given permission to send down take down requests/notices on their behalf for the titles you work on.”

And then, after Shroud (Kimiko Kotani) sent a DMCA to the filehost Mediafire (MF) on or about March 10:

“I filed for Takaga…not just the file I’d listed that had been in your acct, but files of it uploaded by others. I have NO idea why they they lumped your other removals with my request, but as they did, I am enquiring with them about it. if they did so after seeing the other copyrighted material present in your folder, they need to give the proper reason and not attach it to my complaint.”

“I never pretended that (she represented herself as the copyright holders of everything in the scan group’s Mediafire archive). The key legal statement is ‘that the complaining party is authorized to act on behalf of the owner of an exclusive right that is allegedly infringed.’ DMP gave us the right to request the take downs.

“As for how long it took you to learn of the license..that does not alter the fact that you still relased it knowingly AFTER license and release. As for referencing the fact it affects sales and sales provide the livlihood of those in the publishing business, it does have relevance. This fact has been repeated again and again and again in articles to do with scanlations of licensed titles ad nauseum. It’s not just MY paycheck..it’s EVERYONE’s, incl. the mangaka. The one whose work is being promoted. Asking someone to respect that is not unprofessional…it is fairly standard. Look at the front of nearly EVERY ebook produced by many small press these days, and you’ll see the same plea “Please don’t share..this is the livelihood of…”. As for how I treat people, I have been polite. People with fingers caught in metaphorical cookie jars may not always like it when they get caught, or find their files are gone, but then, as you point out…the content is illegal and they do not work for, with, or represent the copyright owners in anyway.

“… I complained to MF about DMG stuff. mediafire however has seemingly looked at the DP acct and suspended the entire thing for illegal content that had nothing to do with my takedown request. That issue is between DP and Mediafire. I’m (done) talking about it.”

Kimiko Kotani (Shroud) on the DMG forums, might think she’s within what she perceives as her legal rights, but this certainly smells like cyberbullying to me. And she’s done a great deal of damage to my opinion of DMP. I know business is business, but allowing “partners,” not employees, not lawyers, not owners of DMP to run amok like this, is sad and horrifying at the same time, and I don’t think it’s done much good for the goodwill towards DMG. I know I’ll never buy a or promote DMG titles and probably won’t buy from DMP again either if this is how DMP is going to allow DMG to behave in the communities from whence it mostly sprang.

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49 Responses to In Praise of Scan Girls

  1. Erica says:

    Hi Ginger – While I agree 100% with the position that the DMG groups should not be filing DMCA takedowns, I wanted to let you know that – very unfortunately – you’re not as right as you’d like to be about scanlation groups being as ethical as they present themselves.

    There was a time, it is true when they were. A title would be licensed, they would praise the news, pull down their work, ask people not to distribute it and encourage buying the title.

    Those days are gone. When Black Butler creator Yana Toboso asked her fans to stop downloading her manga, they told her to starve, they didn’t care. When titles are licensed now, scanlation groups send threatening letters to the licensing company. Companies doing the work are dissed regularly, fans react with anger, rather than joy.

    Yes, I agree that scanlation groups do their work out of love, but it quickly turns into an issue of ego, and dopamine junkies don’t like it when their praise fix is taken away.

    Recently, I have seen *one* circle pull down a scan with a gracious and supportive post when it was licensed. One out of dozens…maybe even hundreds.

    Part of the problem is the lack of connection between “wanting a thing” and “needing to buy a thing to have it” – Justin Sevakis covers this nicely in his article on money in Anime on ANN. Part of it is that many people simply have no idea that the scans are not legal…and don’t understand why they aren’t.

    In any case, great article, I look forward to more!

    Cheers,

    Erica

  2. miachi says:

    I won’t touch the legal aspects of C&D since I am far from a legal expert, but your perception of scanlation groups seems (I apologize if this sounds harsh) woefully naive.
    The semi-moral scanlation groups you mention are part of an old school dying breed. They are quite the exception and not the rule. We all have our rationalizations, but at the end of the day, the files that you were so distressed about losing are still illegal, even though they are not licensed in English.

  3. Hi Erica and miachi,

    Thanks for commenting. I’m only speaking from my personal experience in the scanlation world. I limit my exposure to the positive, happy parts of that scene, so this essay is personal, deep, but not wide. As miachi mentions, the good scan teams are a dying breed, so I found DMG’s damaging actions towards one of the last of them especially upsetting. Upsetting enough that I felt I had to speak out about it. Otherwise, there’s no other way I’d out myself as a bigger fan girl than I already am.

  4. angua says:

    We all have different experiences, different preferences…
    I wonder how these ladies (previous commenters) know so much about scanlation groups if they are not members them self?
    If they indeed are not, then they actually don’t know how groups handle things, right? Except if that’s not based on rumors and we can’t have that…

    I agree with you and I think you explained this (for me very disturbing) incident in nice, calm manner.
    Thank you! ^^

  5. Dear angua,

    You’re welcome, dear.

  6. Disturbed says:

    I am always befuddled at the outpouring of support scanlators receive in these situations. There is never a corresponding groundswell of comments when a big scanlation group keeps releasing a series after it’s been licensed, or when manga aggregation sites continue posting books that are already out in English and have been for some time, or when a manga publisher tries in vain to get torrents and ZIPs of their work off the Web. With their Japanese owners and close partners, manga publishers really do not need scanlations anymore to determine which titles to bring over to the States. They are just destructive. Well-intentioned people’s nostalgia for the good old days, when scanlating and fansubbing were the domain of a small number of dedicated fans without good distribution networks, now just perpetuates unethical and illegal activity.

    If scanlators really believed in helping the mangaka, graphic designer, editor, etc. earn a decent wage for their work, they would provide a translated English script and a link to the original Japanese book on Amazon or Kotobukiya or one of the many other online import stores that offer all even semi-popular manga in Japanese for delivery anywhere in the world. (There would still be problems with this, but at least it wouldn’t be so hypocritical.) Instead they provide the entire work for free and think of themselves as “on the front lines” of manga when in fact they are just undermining everyone involved in creating the art they claim to love. It’s disgusting, and there is no justification left for it, ethically or legally.

  7. Disturbed says:

    There are even ebooks of lots of this manga available in Japanese in any country using non-Japanese credit cards for very reasonable prices, from sites like this one: http://www.ebookjapan.jp If these people want to keep saying they’re just out to help the medium, let them release English scripts and direct people to sites like this one to download the art. Publishers are doing everything they can and it’s still not enough for these people, because really, contrary to what they say, their only interests are 1. the ego trip that comes with stealing someone else’s work and claiming it for your own, and 2. getting free manga.

  8. Dear Disturbed,

    I’m not sure what you’re responding to, but it certainly isn’t what I wrote above.

    Ginger

  9. Disturbed says:

    You referred to someone protecting her work and livelihood from criminals as “cyberbullying.” I certainly am responding to what you wrote. I like your blog and your writing but, respectfully, I think you’re way off base on this one.

  10. Dear Disturbed,

    It is my understanding that the file Shroud sent the DMCA complaint on had already been removed. Shroud’s DMCA complaint caused MediaFire to overreact (and in these times of the Megaupload case, MediaFire’s overreaction was not that big of a surprise) and take down the entire archive of over 170 manga series that Shroud had no claim on. And, yes, I completely blame Shroud for this. The reason publishers and copyright holders have lawyers send these things, or get serious legal advice before they send these things, is so they are precise and effective, no more no less. This is so they don’t get sued if they go after the wrong person in the wrong way. Also, Shroud is neither the copyright holder nor the publisher, she’s not even an employee of the licensee, Digital Manga Publishing. So, it is my opinion, that she had no real authority to do what she did, the consequences of which are horrendous, and therefore I call that cyberbullying. We can call it harassment, defamation, and libel, too if we stretch, but I’m happy to stop at cyberbullying.

    I suppose I’ll have to agree to disagree with you. You’ve been civil, and I thank you for that. As a publisher and copyright holder myself, I can certainly see the other side of the issue. I just really don’t like the way this whole mess went down. Losing websites or filehosts or whatnot online due to a poorly worded complaint, malice, and/or stupidity on the part of the person complaining or the web provider is one of my worst nightmares. Shroud’s actions hit a nerve near the surface, or I would never have outed myself as a scanlations fangirl. How embarrassing, but there you have it. Thanks for liking my writing, too.

  11. Disturbed says:

    We just have different attitudes toward scanlations in general. As you can probably tell from my earlier posts, I don’t think scanlations are necessary or beneficial in any way, even for unlicensed properties in the vast majority of cases. Totally separate from the copyright issue, I also have ethical problems with someone distributing an unauthorized translation of a writer or artist’s work, and I’m sure many mangaka do as well. So I see the Mediafire account going down as Mediafire taking action to shut down the account of someone who is violating the law and probably their terms of service too. All Shroud did was point this out to them. Yes, she could have been nicer, but in my opinion she didn’t need to be. (And I don’t think anything she actually wrote that I’ve read even comes close to qualifying as bullying, libel or harassment.) I also don’t think it’s a good reason to stop buying from DMG/DMP. If I boycotted a company every time I found out someone working there was a jerk, I’d probably have to give back all the electronics I own, most of the furniture, food, etc. (Remember Shroud isn’t a customer service representative. Her interpersonal tact has nothing to do with the quality of her translation/lettering/whatever it is she actually does.) The legal ramifications of Shroud sending a C&D on behalf of DMG aren’t totally clear to me, but I do think she is unequivocally in the right ethically. I do hope DMP clears that part up at least.

  12. kiki says:

    Hi Ginger, I agree with your stance and most of what you say (DMP were nuts to let their DMG freelancers go blundering off on takedown sprees) but I have to point out that the scan group in question isn’t as pure as the driven snow. The group is usually pretty good with dropping titles/removing links once titles are licensed…and then again they occasionally blatantly ignore their own policy, something they just so happened to do to the first manga that Kimiko localised. Aiso Tsukashi/Tired of Waiting For Love was published in August but the scan group still went ahead with releasing scans of this title two months later in September; they knew the title had already been published because in their release post they included a link to it on emanga. So you can understand why Kimiko might have felt the need to act aggressively when dealing with group on later occasions.

  13. Hi Kiki,

    The Aiso Tsukashi incident is starting to sound to me like justification for a vendetta. It’s one title out of how many hundreds? The scan community in question is one of the best out there and I think they’re getting tarred with the same brush as the really bad ones who shall not be named either. Seems like far too many people have taken the Aiso Tsukashi personally and I wonder if that’s healthy. Is it really worth going on and on about? Is it really worth all this animosity so DMG can be right about this? I don’t know why the scan group released it for a very limited time, but they took it down very quickly. At least they took it down, unlike other groups I will not name here.

    And yes, I think there was another title, where DMG send over a note asking that they take down the scan, but the title was different, so there was confusion and the group did nothing. This happens, it’s part of doing business, it’s not the end of the world and certainly no reason to make enemies with the people you need to cooperate with you. DMG can threaten and defame scan groups all they want, they can do a certain amount of damage, but in the end it’s just bad PR in an industry that very much needs good PR.

    Here’s my take on DMG: One of the things that I’ve never liked about DMG is that they see a title being successful on a scan group, so they license it and take it away from the scan group. I think this is horribly unfair and if DMG is so hostile to scan groups, please stay out of them. I know that’s ridiculous because watching the scanlation groups was how DMP was built. However, those titles went directly into book form, not digital with some vague promise that they would be books. Yes, I know: digital readers will by the digital version and print lovers will buy the print, but in order to get enough digital sales, print lovers would have to buy both in order to get a print copy (unless DMP can work out print on demand) and that’s expensive.

    It’s late, I’m tried, and this is all I have to say about this tonight. Except this:

    “So you can understand why Kimiko might have felt the need to act aggressively when dealing with group on later occasions.”

    No I can’t understand that. Kimiko failed with the scan group, aggression is not the answer, someone with better communication skills should have taken over for her. Read this and you can see how bad it was: http://www.digitalmanga.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=56&t=2193&sid=c02ef59ab1a3776cf304ae6a64ec067e#p10792 Going to people’s content providers and getting them shut down is a form of censorship, cyberbulling and just plain wrong. Kimiko is not the DOJ, a lawyer or even an employee of DMP, if I understand the whole localizer or whatever it is thing. No, I don’t understand this, Kiki, and I’m glad I don’t.

  14. Disturbed,

    Yes, well. Like it or not, scanlations and Tokoypop built the yaoi industry in the U.S. Scanlations are still driving the yaoi industry or what’s left of it. Whatever I call Shroud’s actions, they were overkill and damaging to the scanlation community. To some extent she’s poisoned the yaoi well. It’s noble of you to defend her and uphold the law, but you’re on the wrong side of history on this issue. Shroud didn’t do what she did for lofty copyright reasons, truth, justice, and the American way, she did it for greed. Yes, greed, what an ugly word indeed. GREEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEED. Ah!

    Good night, all.

  15. kiki says:

    I think you misunderstand me. I don’t think Kimiko was justified in acting aggressively (and certainly shouldn’t have been acting on behalf of DMG in the first place), just that I can imagine why she might have felt the need to. Aiso was DMG’s very first release and when the scan group released their scans they set the precedent for a rocky relationship between their group and DMG. For reasons unknown and going against their usual policy they made a conscious decision to release those scans and effectively announce themselves as a potentially troublesome group. Vendetta or not, I can see why DMG members would be wary of this group. Ultimately I agree with you th at whatever their personal feelings might be, it’s just bad PR to have such a bad relationship with with a popular scan group that has influence over many fans and reflects poorly on DMG/DMP as a whole.

  16. vessto says:

    If there weren’s scanlations I would never read Yaoi. Yaoi books (as other graphical books too) cannot enter my country. Also even if this problem didn’t exist still I can afford buying anything else than food and the only “luxury” thing at home is Internet.

    I wish the ones who care only for gaining more money to think how much people are in similar situations and to decide if their ego is more important or allowing people who can’t have something in any way to have it for free. We can’t have manga, so let they sleep peacefully, they won’t gain anything from us even if scanlators were destroyed. Which can’t ever happen because as long as people like us exist scanlators also will be.

    I do not say that people who want to gain money are evil. It is something natural. But let they know the border between the lack of desire to buy and the lack of possibility to buy. In that matter I do not comment persons who can have Yaoi but still prefer the free stuff.

    And please, don’t think that if someone can’t afford something they don’t need it (as some commenters in Animenews said). It is like saying the poor people don’t need food, dresses and shoes because they can’t buy them.

    Because of all above I’m strongly against this pointless war which DMG leads. If I support them maybe I should support ACTA too?

  17. vessto says:

    To add to kiki’s comment: You can’t even imagine how right you are! Fans (not only the ones like me) would stay always behind this group even if they start an war against the universe. Such carma can’t be beaten by any publishing house. This is like people to defend the Sheriff of Nottingham instead of Robin Hood. Some people just need to get used to this!

  18. Disturbed says:

    Well, the desire to make money doing what you like doing is what drives the economy. Manga artists aren’t running a charity, either. If you want to call it greed, then sure, call it greed, but without it there wouldn’t be a manga industry. And vessto’s attitude is exactly what I’m talking about. The mythical Robin Hood stole from the rich and gave to the poor. Scanlators steal from the artists (who are certainly not rich) and give to themselves. That people still see them as some variety of maverick rebels fighting “the man” shows how warped our society’s sense of artistic ownership has become.

  19. vessto says:

    Disturbed, don’t judge my attitide as long as you don’t know me! This is MEAN! I don’t wish to anyone to be in my condition to work only to have money to eat and survive. Do you find it fair that some people (like you) can buy what they want and other (like me) can’t do it even if they work? I suppose you’re ok with this as long as you lead normal life.

    And how if there weren’t scanlators Yaoi could reach Bangladesh for example (I had a fujoshi buddy from there) where even being gay is illegal?

    You’re not different than Shroud as long as you care only for yourself and envy to others’ little happiness. This ugly word GREED fits to you in the same perfect way it fits to Shroud.

    And just fyi, I’m not a scanlator but I hardly support them. Have a nice day, at least you have money to do that!

  20. angua says:

    Truth is MAJORITY of people who read scanlations ARE actual buyers.

    All the titles I have (still growing collection) are the ones I read scanlated first. It’s only because of the groups I started to buy in first place, they are the ones who introduced yaoi manga and mangaka to me, and still all news and valuable information come trough them (it took months to get vague answer on publisher’s forum).

    There are also people who can’t buy it because they can’t afford it, or laws in their countries prohibit import of this kind (erotic literature or porn) of goods…
    Then there are those who are simple opportunists and indeed they are into it only because it’s available for free. But those are ones who will turn to something else/next moment this stop to be available. So we can’t really count them.

    You can’t make people buy; actions like this only lead to deeper conflicts and animosity instead to persuade people to buy or buy more.

    Instead publisher should try to figure how to make their manga more available (price/shipping and payment methods) world wide instead concentrate on US only, and certainly, since “greed” is mentioned, price for digital manga is too steep. Why would you want something you even can’t download on your comp (or have to pay extra for e-reader) for the price of paper copy?!
    And practically blackmailing people who want actual paper copy to buy digital first?

    I think we who comment here are very well aware of situation (and arguments from both side) so I presume no need to go about this anymore…

    I’m tired of listening complaints from “industry” and blaming scanlation groups for low sales.
    I have a list of complaints myself; I’m not a happy customer.

    Bottom line, what shrouded dancer did and still is doing won’t help, au contraire.
    Word “boycott” is often repeated last few days…

  21. Meichells says:

    There are some parts of this story that the scanlation group misrepresented and out right lied about. I won’t try to debate the legality of a DMG group sending out the DCMA notices, but I know for a fact that the majority of the files deleted were NOT because of Shroud but because ANOTHER company sent in a complaint. The scanlation group…how about we name them seeing as everyone knows who it is and they were VERY public on their website about it. _____________(let’s not name them [ED]) had registered their MF links under a FAKE email. So, they didn’t get ANY of the emails about why the files were taken down. I don’t want to sound nasty, but perhaps you should have asked Shroud about it as well before you assumed that she had all of their files taken down. But the bottom line, to me, of all of this is that a. DP did NOT remove links to at least 1 licensed title, in fact released it after it was licensed. And b. scanlations are illegal on every level. I’m not saying I don’t read scanlations. I was introduced to manga and BL BY scanlations. But the community has changed since I first discovered it around 8 years ago. It would not surprise me in the least to discover that the Japanese publishers were the ones to report DP to MF and get the files removed. They are, in fact, not the first group in recent days to get their entire MF stash removed. And the other group was NOT doing titles licensed by DMG or DMP. So, someone else is out there reporting files. The only people I can think of with that much juice are the Japanese publishers. Food for thought?

  22. AsteriskCGY says:

    I do remember the good old days, an easy 6-8 years ago, when scanners had a take down when licensed policy. I was there when Shoujomagic got to the VERY LAST chapter of Zettai Kareshi when Viz announced its license and their push for Shoujo Beat. Being a strong holder of this policy, they essentially stopped all work on the project, of which they had scans and a translation ready, and essentially released just those two separately for their readers, because its still pretty painful to have to wait for a conclusion after getting so far into the story already. Especially if Viz was doing translations from chapter 1.

    Personally I’m not against scan groups trying to recoup costs for their work, namely because it takes money to do anything, even on the internet, and even if the cost is relatively small to many folks, it’ll be too much for some others. What I think we’re seeing is the scale is starting to ramp up to much larger values which require some degree of funding to maintain.

    What I think is going to happen however is eventually this current model will get to a size where the money they make will give them the clout to make themselves legitimate. And even then there will be folks to find reason to work around this system.

    As for this case this is one of the more common arguments against anti-piracy, the reach tends to be too broad and damages too many unaffiliated parties, especially when done through mere rightsholders or our good friend the patent trolls, sending C&D’s to kids, old ladies, and printers, with the burden of proof now lying on the one without a massive legal team to back them up.

    I would say if you were aiming to guilt people into buying, it works better if you came with them with puppy eyes instead of angry informal sticks. Folks would be more inclined to support if they felt a connection to the work and if they weren’t constantly being punched in the face.

  23. vessto says:

    I have the feeling AT LEAST ONE comment here is posted by Shroud. Too much ALL CAPS, too much…

  24. There seems to be a LOT of misinformation going on around here. I had a response all written up and now that I’m unsure of what really happened, I have to rewrite it. Damn you, reality!

    Let me just say this… DMP did NOT encourage people to serve D&Cs. I sat through the long, rambling “Protect Your Rights” video and at the 13:40 mark Ben says to send a nice note asking to take it down and then to let DMP know about the site.

    Basically this DMGer was overenthusiastic and overstepped her bounds. She is NOT and employee of DMP (she’s a contract worker) and NOT an agent of the publisher.

    I’ve been lettering manga (and even a couple comics) for 15 years. I’ve seen all sorts of scanlations of titles I’ve done work for. Their existence made me uncomfortable, but it’s never been my responsibility to remove scanlations. This person isn’t acting like a professional freelancer, but more like a scanlator with a sheriff’s badge drawn in crayon.

    The snake is eating its own tail. The scanlator is trying to destroy the other scanlators and it’s really very sad.

  25. Erica says:

    Greed, huh? I’m seeing that word thrown around a lot these days, mostly by people who are running out of legitimate reasons to justify scans.

    What constituted greed here? The DMG folks do work for free on the contingency of sales. Probably with excellent sales, a group might make a few hundred dollars, that is then split into multiple pieces for all the folks who worked on the book.

    I was accused of greed for announcing a license of a book – mind you, not my own license, just one I announced that my company would be working on. I was accused of pocketing people’s money. In fact, we’re paid as work-for-hire and not very much. I and my translator won’t make royalties, just a very little bit of money each. I’m not being coy here – work in manga publishing has been cheesepared so heavily that I get less for editing an entire book than I would have ten years ago writing a 500-word essay for a magazine.

    It seems to me that the definition of greed here is “making any money on an endeavor that is commercial and thus taking away my chance to get it for free (illicitly or not.)”

    I’m sorry Ginger, but you really don’t have the moral high ground here, although I still agree that the takedowns should have originate from DMP and no other entity.

    You and all other readers have no inalienable right to manga. You have the right to pay for it legitimately or obtain it illicitly and be accountable for the consequences.

  26. meichells says:

    No, vesto, I am NOT Shroud. If you had been around the scanlation community on IRC about 6 years ago, you would have recognized the name. I was a part of Peccatore-Sanctuary and ran a short lived group called Shattered-Innocence. Hell, I’ve been all over Twitter and LJ for several months. Look me up, I’m not hard to find. I do, however, know Shroud via Twitter. And I’ll take her word about what happened over DP’s word, thanks. Esp since they were NOT the first group to lose their MF links and they haven’t been truthful about what happened.

  27. Yoko51 says:

    So it seems DMP has responded to this. They have apparently sent an email out to DMG members telling them that they cannot send out C&D letters or DMCAs. What they can do is politely request scanlators to stop working on a title that’s been licensed. If the scanlators continue, then that’s when DMP will step in with the legal stuff (not DMG).

    Also DMP have listed all the titles as of March 13 that they have licensed for the DMG.
    http://www.digitalmanga.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=56&t=2221

    This list should hopefully help the scans groups know what titles not to touch or to drop.

    As to this issue, I agree with Ginger. Here’s my take on it (posted this somewhere else so I’ll just post here)

    aggregator scan sites are what really hurt the manga industry I think. they’re the ones that don’t remove licensed works or upload licensed releases. those sites I do see as a problem.

    However I can’t say (and won’t say) anything bad about scan groups because I too started reading scans first. Back when yaoi manga wasn’t even licensed in the US, scans were our only option to read these works. (well learning Japanese was also another option) From what I’ve seen, the large majority of bl scan groups have always respected licensed works and have always dropped projects/deleted links for those works and promoted the official companies. They have also promoted people to buy the original japanese releases if they can. I’ve seen many fans who read scans but buy the jpns versions anyways even though they can’t speak the language.

    If it weren’t for the scans I use to download and read, I would not have discovered this genre. I would not have been there day one to support DMP’s first releases. Many of my current purchases are the result of knowing the artists from the scans I read back then.

    For example before Tea for Two or Hey Sensei was licensed, I had read those works via scans (& purchased later when they were licensed). I also read other works by Sakuragi Yaya. I noticed that I enjoyed all her works. Thus when Yume Musubi Koi Musubi (a Sakuragi Yaya work I have never read) was recently announced to be licensed by SuBLime, my reaction at seeing that it’s by Sakuragi Yaya was “take all my money”. I’m blind buying this series because I know this mangaka’s work. I know that chances are I’ll love it. And I know this because I read scans of her work way before bl manga started to be available in the US.

    I think being rude to these groups is bad publicity for DMP/DMG. These DMG members should also remember that they work under the DMP label thus they should act like professionals when sending official emails.

  28. Dear Yoko51,

    Yay! I’m a S Yaya fan, too! I read the first 3 books of Koi Cha no Osahu (sp?) (which became Tea for Two) in scans and when Tokoyopop licensed it, I began to pray that they’d hurry up and finish the whole thing so I could read it be they a) screwed it up or b) decided it wasn’t making enough money and shelved it. Luckily they did finish it (before they went out of business [and not because of scans])! I bought three of each of the four volumes: a set to read, a set for the archives, and a set as a gift. I also read Y Yamada’s Dario whatever in scans and it’s the best yaoi manga I’ve ever read in my limited experience. So when June published it as No One Loves me, I bought two copies: one to read and one for the archives. Perhaps that’s greedy of me, but there you have it. (I’ve bought a lot of manga that were in scans, just to have a physical copy. I have a copy of Pure Heart, v 1 and am waiting for v2. I’m also waiting for v5 of the Only the Ring Finger Knows novels. I hope to be able to read it in English someday. [wistful smile])

    Erica,

    Greed. Sorry, GREEEEEEEEEEEED. Okay, I will admit I was very tired and getting cranky when I wrote that part of that post, so I apologize for the all caps GREEEEEEEEEEEED part. However, it seems to me that much of the hate rage being showed on the scan group that shall be unnamed (and as long as I can edit comments, it will stay that way) appears to be grudge-driven over how one, count ’em, one title affected their “bottom line.” I saw some numbers on another thread where an entire scan team was awarded $58 dollars to be shared among them. I suppose it’s possible to be greedy about some percentage of $58 when you’re being exploited into attacking and eating like-minded/execution-differing others, but I’m fortunate to say I’m unable to relate to that.

    To everyone,

    You’ve all been civil in the comments and I appreciate that. Thank you. I’ll leave the comments open as long as I don’t have to start policing them or deleting wacky spam.

  29. litup says:

    I’m reading all of this in fighting among scanlators and DMG and I have to say that I find it to be very saddening. Especially since everyone is forgetting that manga is the livelihood of the mangaka and that as fans we should be willing to support their artistry with our money so that they will continue to provide us with the hobby that many of us have come to love and enjoy. What scanlators do is illegal but because of this illegal work, it has opened the door to many people who would otherwise not know about manga, this is especially true with yaoi. Just because some members of DMG might have offended some of the scanlators doesn’t mean that as fans we should continue with this infighting and start boycotting DMG projects.

    IF we are true fans who wish to show our appreciation, gratitude, and to encourage the continuation of a mangaka’s work then regardless of who releases a legal copy of it, we should be willing to purchase it and direct any concerns that we have about how unprofessional some individual’s maybe towards the appropriate channels. Because we should all remember that the mangaka and the publisher are the rightful owner of the materials not the scanlators or the fans

  30. kiki says:

    Is this $58 example you give taken from the thread on aarin? If so then I have to correct you on that – the poster was speculating on what a DMG member might have earned on average per book based on sales figures given in a DMG report and $58 was merely her ‘guestimate average’ for a single member of a 3-member group.

  31. Ann says:

    Kiki makes an important point here. This scanlation group does, by and large, seem to follow a good moral code, at least as far as doing something that’s illegal regardless goes, but even as an example of one of the few “good groups” that respects licenses, they don’t have a flawless record and don’t always stick to what they themselves claim to do. Shroud was not lying about what they did with her first DMG title. I saw the update on the group’s page myself, and, long before this recent drama began, I thought to myself “This is really messed up.” I don’t know if they had some beef with Shroud before the update, but if they did, it was still certainly inappropriate and does not help an ounce in their attempt to be a mature, respectable scan group. If it wasn’t out of spite, then the only other possible explanation in my eyes would be ego – that they just couldn’t stand to leave a book unfinished and disappoint their fans.

    In any case, what they did was totally wrong and against everything they claim to stand for. It really doesn’t matter how quickly they pulled it down; they still chose to make a release long after both the license announcement AND the official release, and they surely know well that even once they pull their scanlation down, it’ll still be available all over the place.

    It’s not the only example either. Another book was mentioned in that topic. That one didn’t get pulled down until the localizer contacted them, again after both the license announcement and the official release. If they simply missed it, okay, I can understand that, but I never once saw an update on their page doing what you claim that these groups do. They never mentioned the title at all. Not to point out that it had been licensed/released, not to point out that the scanlation was pulled, not to encourage a purchase or to link to the official version. Nothing.

    I think it would be foolish to assume that these were the only examples. If they’ve broken their own rules twice, I’m sure there are more occasions, but those involved in the others probably just never knew about it.

  32. ML says:

    To put the legal/ethical issues aside, do you realize what you’re doing by judging DMG (let alone DMP) for what one person has said or done?
    Even if you want to zoom it out into a larger issue, why is it wrong for DMP to file infringement claims on something that no one is disputing has been illegally produced?
    If you were really interested in nonbiased reporting, you should have just given a link to the forums or the PDF of the conversation, not quoting selectively. We all know DMG is ripping off its “Guild Members,” they don’t deserve flak unfairly.

  33. Scryren says:

    Hey Meichells. I’m not surprised you would take Shroud’s recollection of events over ours. I distinctly remember the nickname Faye had for Shattered Innocence, and it wasn’t very nice. I don’t recall exactly why you hated us so much, but I bet both teams working on After I Get Drunk On You at the same time had something to do with it–you seem like someone who would get fired up over that.

    To set things straight, you do not need a real, validated email account to make a Mediafire account. Kinky@yahoo.com was one of Faye’s personal MF accounts that we turned into the DP account. There was nothing malicious about it. I wasn’t even aware the email didn’t exist until I asked Faye for the password so I could get to the MF emails.

    It’s also unfortunate that my personal conversations with Shroud are being broadcasted to the internet, and worse, are being twisted by a third party to serve their own agenda. I see now that being open with Shroud was a mistake, and I won’t make it again.

  34. …that they just couldn’t stand to leave a book unfinished and disappoint their fans.”

    Hi Ann,

    Y’know, it’s probably obvious to anyone reading that in this particular instance and due to the fact that this scan community doesn’t make a habit of this kind of thing and also that from what I’ve seen of them they are a nice bunch, I have absolutely no problem with what they did in temporarily releasing that title the way they did.

    And I will feel this way until I decide to feel differently.

    What I am simply unable to understand is why these one or two transgressions from this good group has thrown so many sane people into a frenzy. It gets explained and explained, but the rage is still way out of proportion to what actually happened. So I now surmise that there’re are hidden elements and that the basis of my point of view can only be based on my interpretation of the facts I’ve observed. And until that interpretation and/or those facts change, I will continue to think that the group’s actions don’t warrant the negative reaction to them.

    I also think the group unnamed here is an easy target and that at least some of this rage-fest is pent up frustration due to being unable to get the real villains: the sites that don’t scan their own work, poach scan groups work, refuse to remove it, and raise a significant amount of money to do these things. Or the websites that scan U.S. published manga and serialize it. Or the youtubers who set page after page of U.S. published manga to music. Even I am shocked by these things, but the group we’re talking about has, to my knowledge, never done anything even remotely like this.

    The line between zeal and zealotry, altruism and egotism, greed and being worthy of one’s hire seems large and bold to me, but I feel it has been seriously blurred by the pro-DMG camp (yes, that’s how I think of it now) in this discussion. If DMG is going to operate on paranoia, rage, and avarice, it’s a worse idea and venture than I’d ever imagined, and I despair of it.

    …that they just couldn’t stand to leave a book unfinished and disappoint their fans.”

    If all U.S. manga publishers were as worried about disappointing their fans as this one little scan group then utopia would not be far off.

  35. kiki says:

    Ginger, what differentiates a ‘good group’ from a ‘bad group’? In scanlation ethics there are really only two ironclad rules, first, groups do not take money for their work, second, and this is what sorts the good groups from the bad, groups drop a title once it’s licensed. If you repeatedly close your eyes to a group’s transgressions then you risk straying onto the path of blind devotion. It’s nice to support a group but it’s foolhardy to reject all criticism of them. If you’re a loyal supporter then perhaps you should call them out on their transgressions instead of glossing over them; you wouldn’t want them to become repeat offenders.

  36. Scryren says:

    Kiki, by repeatedly you mean twice? Both which are licenses from a publisher who admits they have little support from their parent company when it comes to advertising their titles and would like them to be announced in a more prominate place?

    Repetitive, and dependable, behavior is how once we see the press release for a license, we finished up the chapters that can make it out of the QC stage before the next release post. That would also be the same release post that we announce the title, the publisher, and that the files will be down by the next release post. You would know that’s how we’ve responded to licenses for years if you took the time to look.

  37. Kiki,

    I know you’ve read into it whatever supports your point of view, but have you really understood anything I’ve written on this subject? I don’t know what kind of grudge you have against the scan group, but it’s not just coloring what you’ve written here, it seems to be warping your thinking in an alarming way. Why do you continue to attack them for the two incidents that bother you and ignore any and all positive facts about their seven year history? Seven years in any area of online culture is quite an accomplishment and not something stupid and wicked people/communities/organizations usually accomplish. (I know this because J LHLS has been around since 2003 and it’s been a lot fun, but also a lot of work and, as we know, it’s still both of those things.) If you’re really anti-scan, or even just anti-this scan group, leave it alone and put your energies into something you can be positive about because you’ve crossed over from intelligently presenting your opinion to nitpicking and splitting hairs and it’s just silly now.

  38. kiki says:

    Scryren, by repeatedly I mean more than once since I don’t know how many times it’s happened. And should it matter which publisher the license belongs to? A license is a license. As for your usual procedure, does it apply to official releases as well, as in the case of Aiso? So even if a title has been published you’ll still go ahead with your procedure to release completed chapters you have in hand in your next release post? Well, in my opinion that’s rather questionable since there’s already an official version available for purchase but if that’s how you work then that’s how you work. However, taking the example of Aiso, according to your site updates you had five release posts between the official release of Aiso (Aug 15 on DMP press release) and your own release dated Oct 1. Did you not notice the official release in those two months? Am I misunderstanding your procedure somehow?

  39. kiki says:

    Ginger, actually I’m not anti-scan nor do I have a grudge against this group, they’re actually one of my favourite groups. If you read back through my comments you’ll see that I haven’t ignored their good points but that said that they’re usually good with dealing with licensed titles. However, just because I like them or because they’ve got a good record does not mean I’m going to excuse their transgressions like you are doing. Even if you think my opinions are silly I might just comment that it’s rather rude to say so. If you’d like to debate a point I’d be happy to answer you but I find it discourteous that you choose to belittle my entire argument.

  40. vessto says:

    @meichells:

    Then shame on you as you as a RETIRED scanlator should know what it is about!

  41. Scryren says:

    Kiki, I covered Aiso and Taka ga in my first paragraph. If you want more details, you can check on my conversation with DMG in their forums.

    DMG is now helping us, and other groups, with this particular problem by creating and maintaining a list with all of their official licenses, by both JPN and ENG titles, on their forum. My only other wish is that DMG could get DMI to issue press releases (like they do with DMP titles) when they secure a license so that major news sites like ANN would report it.

    I’m not trolling here, I’m being honest: I’m having trouble understanding how you can be a fan of our group and at the same time never have noticed how we handle licenses. I’m assuming you get our releases from somewhere other than our site?

  42. Ari says:

    I am very glad that DMG has told their localizers that they cannot act as legal aggregators any longer as some do act very unprofessional. I was going to contact the PR dept regarding “Shroud” who goes by many names and her unprofessional behaviour for the last 2+ years towards many groups but have decided not to at this time as its a resolved issue within their workings. Glad to see that some of us want to work together and realize that we have no problem whatsoever removing licensed works – you don’t have to attack us to get what you need done.

  43. kiki says:

    Scryren, I’m a regular visitor to your site and yes I’ve seen posts where you release a few chapters at the same time that you announce the license, what I’ve never seen you do is release chapters after a title has actually been officially published and is already available to purchase. I don’t profess to having read every update, however, so I guess I must’ve missed those particular posts and was mistaken in thinking that Aiso was the first instance of it. Even allowing for my mistaken presumption I still don’t understand the reason for the delay in your Aiso release.

    Now I must beg your pardon but when you say you covered Aiso/Takaga in the ‘first paragraph’ do you mean the first paragraph in your above reply to me? Are you referring to your point about the publisher wanting their titles to be advertised in a more prominent place? Is that your explanation? Please do correct me if I’ve misunderstood.

    I’ve read through your conversation with Shroud in the DMG forums again and though you went into some detail on Takaga (I actually agree with you here and think DMG license announcements are very haphazard) I still see no explanation for your late release of Aiso. Since you’ve been patient enough to reply to me so far I wonder if you’d be kind enough to repeat your explanation? As I’ve said before in my previous comments I do think that generally you are a ‘good group’ but Aiso is the one incident that continues to perplex me and, from Ann’s post above, I know I’m not the only one.

  44. Ari says:

    I don’t know why anyone feels like they deserve any kind of response to why a group released something. If it was removed, that should be enough. Groups (almost all of them) don’t make money on scanlations and spend PLENTY of it to satisfy the masses out there, some groups like my own even work directly with mangaka so that they dont have to go to the publishers and we do it with our own time, all for free, with no proceeds back to us.

    Since publishers frequently license titles that have been fully scanlated (or are close to being so), the fact that even if a scanlation has been published it cannot hurt the sales that much once the file is removed, otherwise they would never license already scanlated manga and I say this because we were just asked to remove a 3 year old scanlation and more recently have seen an even older manga we scanlated well over 5 years ago on the new DMG listings.

    If a group released something but deleted it before the licensed localisation came out, i don’t think it would be a big deal if it was out there for let’s say one week, just so the work of the scanlator does not go completely to waste, considering some have been out there for years (and that we barely remember lol).

  45. Kiki,

    You’re either missing the point or deliberately avoiding the it and I’m staring to enjoy going around in circles with you. I find you charmingly obtuse now. No matter who agrees with you, you’re blowing the scan group’s actions way out of proportion for reasons I cannot understand. I do see your point, but, in my opinion, on a scale of 1-10 w/10 being the most serious, the issue is .00003. There are so many other 10 or 11 level battles to wage with groups that aren’t willing to work with any publisher, so I’m amazed that you keep fighting this one insignificant battle, over and over again, with a group that has worked with publishers. Even if they haven’t worked with publisher to your satisfaction, they have still worked with publishers and in a very public and documented way. Not only have they worked with publishers, they supported and promoted not just the publishers, but also the manga creators. So, I can only surmise that you either have no perspective on the larger issue or you have an irrational grudge against this scan group and this allows you no perspective on the larger issue.

    I keep explaining it, you keep reinterpreting it, round and round, and on and on we go. I look forward to your next post.

    Note: If you do decide to fight those level 10 battles you’ll need an online pulpit you control yourself, one that has long form blogging like mine, an RSS feed and cross-posts to as much social media as you as possible. You might also want to consult with the Electronic Freedom Frontier about the chilling effects of copyright crusaders, where the real battles in your area of interest are and what the best means are to combat them. Public shaming is as far as I’d go, because there are just some things that should be left to coporations and lawyers. But bear in mind, the DOJ has shot themselves in the future foot because the only way they could swoop down on Megaupload was because MU had content in severs on U.S. soil. No one truly vested in this business model will ever make that mistake again.

    And, like the scan group’s enitre archive, when the DOJ, which now seems to work for Hollywood with our tax dollars, shut down all of MU, they took out a significant amount of legal held content. http://www.maximumpc.com/article/news/many_us_government_officials_are_megaupload_users_kim_dotcom_says We live in interesting times when our DOJ is more interested in prosecuting off-shore copyright violations than drugs, extortion, slavery, and racketeering here in the U.S. Megaupload, (like the scan group) was an easy target and taking them down was/is nothing to be proud of.

  46. kiki says:

    Ginger, Just because I haven’t addressed any other issues does not mean I don’t think about them but I never had any intention of discussing on this page any point but the single criticism that I’ve raised from the start. You dismiss this criticism as insignificant but I disagree. The incident might be a single minor one if you consider the history of the group but at its heart is a question which I think is important, namely, is it acceptable for scan groups to release scanlations after a title has been published. Since your article is entitled ‘in praise of scan girls’ and specifically praises the upstanding conduct of scan groups then I would’ve thought a question that strikes at the heart of scanlation ethics would have some significance. Since you disagree in such absolute terms I won’t badger on anymore.

    By the way, you speak constantly in terms of battles, hate rage, attacks, grudges and so on, I’m not sure where you’re getting all this rage from but I must comment that I’ve been debating in, what I consider, rather mild terms. Perhaps you view every debate as a battle but I try to engage in a polite manner befitting of civilised discussion; if I have failed in that respect, then you have my apologies.

  47. Dearest Kiki,

    In honor of your eloquence, I hereby declare these comments closed.

    Thank you everyone.

  48. Pingback: I was all excited when i went to the Amazon link you gave and saw that there are BL mangas for sale in English. Then I saw that message left by an anon saying she’s hesitant because it’s DMP, and your reply saying you don’t intent to sho

  49. Pingback: I was all excited when i went to the Amazon link you gave and saw that there are BL mangas for sale in English. Then I saw that message left by an anon saying she’s hesitant because it’s DMP, and your reply saying you don’t intent to sho

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