Jeffrey media under the sun that’s been recorded
Posted On May 30, 2019
Jeffrey is coming home from school. It’s been a long day, and he decides to relax by watching some anime. He logs onto his computer and types in the address www.kissanime.com. Scrolling through the videos, he finds the latest episode of the popular anime Dragon Ball Super and clicks on it. The episode starts. Carolyn’s granddaughter is a huge fan of Disney’s Frozen. For Christmas, Carolyn has decided to sew a quilt featuring Frozen’s main characters Elsa and Anna. Rosa is looking for a birthday present for her boyfriend. She knows that he’s a fan of Legend of Zelda, so she goes into Google’s search bar and types “zelda keychain”. She clicks on the first link, which brings up the site Etsy’s listings that match her search phrase. Looking through the results, Rosa decides that the third keychain in the list, a heart-shaped item from Zelda, would be the best to give to her boyfriend. Clicking into the page, Rosa likes the price and adds it to her cart. None of these people have committed crimes, but Carolyn is the only one who hasn’t helped someone else commit one. KissAnime, the host site for Jeffrey’s anime fix, and the person who sold Rosa her Zelda keychain have both done something illegal by breaking copyright laws. Copyright infringement is a huge problem that many people don’t seem to realize it as such. Those who feel that they aren’t doing anything wrong have the main argument that “Nobody’s getting hurt by it!” However, if Japan has to retaliate fiercely, companies have to set up severe policies, and media is getting canceled because of copyright infringement, it is very obviously an issue.The U.S. law defines such things under copyright protection as “original works of authorship fixed in any tangible medium of expression, now known or later developed, from which they can be perceived, reproduced, or otherwise communicated, either directly or with the aid of a machine or device” (U.S. Code, Title 17, Chapter 1, Section 102). Basically, any form of media under the sun that’s been recorded in any way is under protected by law. The copyright is typically owned by the one who created the work (U.S. Code, Title 17, Chapter 2, Section 201), and copyrights usually last until the owner’s death, plus seventy years for most forms of media (U.S. Code, Title 17, Chapter 3, Section 302). Copyright infringement, or intellectual property (IP) infringement, is when a person violates a copyright holder’s rights to ownership of that media. Put simply, it’s when someone uses a copyrighted material without having the rights to. However, some uses for copyrighted material are under the category of “fair use”. This category includes such things as using a copyrighted material for a scholarly purpose and/or reviewing (U.S. Code, Title 17, Chapter 1, Section 107).Piracy falls under the umbrella of copyright infringement, and I believe there are many DVD advertisements that have explained that “it’s a crime.” Despite the mocking that those commercials receive, it is a major deal. Piracy is a huge issue within the manga and anime industry. Funimation, a Flower Mound, Texas company, which owns the distribution rights in the U.S. for many anime, is known for attacking piracy, as in the past, they have brought 1337 users of a pirate site known as BitTorrent to court for downloading episodes of “One Piece”. Here in the U.S., and other countries outside of Japan, the website KissAnime is indubitably the largest and most common site to visit for anime pirates’ daily fix, as the site appeared on a list for the 250 most visited sites in the U.S. Funimation attacked the site in 2017. Through a long hassle of tracing videos to the uploader to IP addresses and finally to the host of the videos, Funimation discovered that the company Digital Ocean was what allowed KissAnime’s videos to be posted on the site. Without hesitation, Funimation sent a Digital Media Copyright Act (DMCA) notice, saying, “FUNimation hereby requests that Digital Ocean expeditiously causes all such infringing materials to be removed or blocked or freezes the account at issue until the account holder removes all infringing materials or disables access thereto.” In short: “Stop letting KissAnime post our anime.” When TorrentFreak asked about whether this was worth the effort, or whether Funimation would even be able to find the KissAnime site owner, Funimation lawyer Evan Stone remarked, “We are targeting someone associated with disseminating infringing content on a MASSIVE scale, for profit. This is not a prelude to an end-user lawsuit, nor does this involve your typical fan uploader,” (Ernesto).Funimation is certainly trying hard to protect its property, but Japan’s efforts to protect anime and manga are even moreso. Manga and anime are easily Japan’s largest cultural exports, but because of piracy, the industry has lost over double the worth of its official sales. Japan’s Content Overseas Distribution Association (CODA), reported in March 2014 that 2.5 billion dollars were lost. When compared to the official 1.1 billion dollars made, anyone can see that piracy has done its toll on the industry (Mikikazu Komatsu). In response to the numbers, Japan’s government, in 2014, formed a coalition with 15 anime-related companies, including Aniplex, Kadokawa, Good Smile Company, Kodansha, Studio Ghibli, Bandai-Namco Games, and Toei Animation. The group is called the Manga-Anime Guardians (MAG), and it is targeting over 580 illegal content-sharing sites, most of which are based in China. Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry (METI) are hopeful that MAG will “create an environment where fans can… continue to legally support and cultivate new talent,” (Thi Chao). In 2012, a change to their copyright laws was added in order to combat those who merely download pirated versions of media. Before the change, it was merely uploaders who could be punished with up to ten years in jail and a 10 million yen fine (approx. $130,000), but now the downloaders can face up to two years and 2 million yen (approx. $25,000) (Enigmax). Later, in 2016, METI hired people whose jobs were solely to search on the internet for copyright-infringing materials (Emiko Jozuka).Even though MAG was focusing on the China-based pirate sites, America poses many problems for the industry as well. According to MAG, over half of American anime and manga fans, also called “otaku”, are pirates of the media (Thi Chao). “Scanlators” have caused many problems in specifically the manga area. A scanlator distributes manga for audiences outside of Japan by scanning, translating, and editing the original Japanese content without consent of the law. Scanlations first started coming up in the mid-90s, when specifically American audiences were opening their eyes to the Japanese media. Those who scanlated or read scanlations would defend themselves by pointing out that manga was not distributed very quickly for English audiences and that manga that was translated officially was translated terribly, in that Japanese names such as Usagi were turned into Serena and Japanese food and culture was changed to American food, like rice balls to donuts. Pages were also flipped, as in Japan, books are read from right to left rather than left to right. The page flipping altered the art, which also gave scanlators a reason to scan. Scanlators would argue for their side by saying that these alterations took the integrity of the original work. While it was still wrong to pirate the manga, it was at least reasonably justifiable (D’Anastasio).However, nowadays, manga publishers listen to what their audience wants. Companies no longer flip the pages and keep the original Japanese names and cultural references, with footnotes that explain things American audiences may not understand. Publishers have also responded that scanlations lessen the manga’s value and Kurt Hassler, editorial director of Yen Press has commented that scanlators “co-opt the creator’s intentions for the quality and production of their material.” Hassler has claimed that 2006 was when the scanlators became a serious problem, as that year was when they “started having a direct and significant impact on the industry as a whole.” “It really isn’t a coincidence that manga sales in the US plummeted after aggregator sites started popping up and garnering so much traffic. Prior to that, manga sales had been on a steep incline, frankly unlike anything that was going on in publishing at the time.” In order to prevent this continuing problem, American publishers had doubled their efforts in releasing the newly-found media, and yet, the scanlations ensued. Those who think that the pirating is okay began to argue that scanlations bring more fans. While that may be true, new fans who find the scanlations will be unlikely to start buying manga. If they didn’t do it at the beginning, then why would they start? The new fans that scanlations may bring become irrelevant, as they are not going to bring money into the industry. Creating a manga is hard work, and these pirating ‘fans’ are making that hard work go to waste. It’s not just the publishers who hate pirates; the authors do as well. Rei Hiroe, author of Black Lagoon, remarked in 2010 over Twitter that those who pirate his manga should “contract pancreatic cancer”. Kouta Hirano, Hellsing, added to his tweet, saying that the pirates should catch such a ridiculous disease that doctors would “shit themselves laughing” over the death. Such violent remarks would not come from people who believe that piracy doesn’t hurt anyone (D’Anastasio).