The Legality of Scanlations

hatersgonnacat

My feelings have been in turmoil recently after reading various comments and gripes people have shared about the chapter of “Thou Shalt Not Die” that I worked on.

Firstly, I was quite disconcerted when I saw how quickly my addition of the first chapter to Batoto was spread around to other manga sites. It’s good for distribution and introduces the material to a broader audience, but I retain less and less control over it. It will be extremely difficult to make any further changes or updates to it should that become necessary–I am working on a few edits; mostly fixing the R-to-L reading throughout.

And then there are the incessant inflammatory or “flame” posts regarding my work. It’s probably beyond reason to expect the Internet to always offer constructive criticism. 4chan is filled with mindless drivel that no self-respecting individual should ever read. Gamefaqs is hardly much better; both of which often resemble the never-ending poo-spewing comments often seen on YouTube.

I would like to say many things to these people, but I would only be lowering myself to their level by doing so. I have made my stance on watermarking my work whether some people spit at or belittle me for doing so. This is the only way I am able to claim the work that I’ve put into these productions as well as protecting the original work.

Unlike many scanlation groups, I am a solo producer. I purchase the source material, scan, edit, translate, typeset the material myself. I do not claim to be perfect in any of these methods, but it would be nice to receive a little gratitude. My final stance on this is: If you don’t like it, then you can purchase the source material yourself. There is no need to profusely complain about the quality if you took no participation in its creation.

That being said, these “flame” comments have also prompted me to think more deeply on the issue of Copyrights.


 

Regarding Copyrights

Technically speaking, any and all scanlation endeavours are a breach of Copyright laws if an individual does not receive written confirmation allowing for its use by the Copyright holder. This means, that the great majority of any scanlation group is breaking Copyright laws of the rightful owner, who can then legally send a cease and desist order to the offending party at any time. So, there is very little grounds for any scanlation group or individual to get anywhere with Copyright issues.

Here are a couple interesting definitions on the subject:

A “derivative work” is a work based upon one or more preexisting works, such as a translation, musical arrangement, dramatization, fictionalization, motion picture version, sound recording, art reproduction, a bridgment, condensation, or any other form in which a work may be recast, transformed, or adapted. A work consisting of editorial revisions, annotations, elaborations, or other modifications which, as a whole, represent an original work of authorship, is a “derivative work”.
— Digital Law Online

Translations, cinematic adaptations and musical arrangements are common types of derivative works.
— Derivative work definition on Wikipedia

 

The most important exception to the exclusive rights of the copyright holder is the “fair use” doctrine. This doctrine allows the general public to use copyrighted material without permission in certain situations.
Intellectual Property and Fair Use

 

There are exceptions to copyright, of course, but none of them are really applicable to the issue of scanlation. Fair use, in particular, is not a defence – the wholesale copying of the entirety of a copyrighted would never be considered “fair use” by a court.
Anime & Manga Stack Exchange

 

Lee said she had spoken to one Japanese publishing house that was not particularly happy about the unauthorized translations, but the industry has yet to engage in coordinated action, with many publishers seeing scanlation as an overseas phenomenon.

The lack of legal threats could have something to do with the way in which the majority of scanlators operate, as Lee discovered in her research.

For example, scanlators will try whenever possible to buy a copy of the original work and, if and when the Japanese original is translated, they will generally stop scanlating that particular work.
The Japan Times

The only reason I have been scanlating these chapters is to share the work with the larger, international fanbase that would otherwise not have access to the source material. When at all possible, I have also made it possible to assist fans who want to purchase the original item. However, I may have instead come to an impasse on the issue on the legality of scanlations.

Another reason why I’ve been working so hard on this material is because of my great respect for its creator, Yoko Taro. I, in no way, wish to damage his works, diminish monetary income gained from purchases of the source material, nor cause a problem legally.

Therefore, I will be formulating an official request from whomever to ask for written permission to continue my work on the scanlation. I don’t expect Square Enix to give me any sort of permission to do this, however; and should they refuse, I will be removing all of my scanlated pages. I will also refer their decision to other related scanlation groups.

  • SaigonAlice

    In the first place, it’s something that you’ve paid your own money with and then went out of your own way to translation. The least they could do was show a bit of appreciation, but if not then *** them seriously.

    • Thanks, I appreciate that. I probably tend be negative and over-think things, so maybe I’m going a little too far with my reaction.

      I’ve always questioned whether it was right for me to even begin scanlating these chapters… so all of those feelings plus this has me really debating whether or not its worth continuing, especially if it will damage any real potential of the manga.

  • Anneeys

    I cannot believe people are being so unkind, you work so hard making all of this available to the fans, spending your time, effort and money and people give you grief about it. You always show genuine concern and respect to the creators when you upload the scanlations, wanting more control over your uploads is perfectly reasonable since you care so much about them.

    It’s awful how given a little anonymity people go crazy and say such hurtful things. I’m really sorry to hear that it’s worn you down so much.

    I am so grateful to you for sharing so much with us and it’s really caused my love for the series to go crazy haha. I know that it’s the same for a lot of people out there too! Whatever happens I will continue to support you!!

    • Wow, thanks a lot! Yeah, I probably have to expect this since it was me who uploaded the thing to a manga Web site anyway. There are many other people who simply read manga there and have no affinity toward the DOD world or Yoko Taro. So, I should have expected that.

      I don’t know what I’ll do about untranslated chapters yet. I still have it in my mind to ask for official permission to do this, but I can almost guarantee that SQEX will refuse. If I do continue, I probably won’t upload to larger sites like Batoto and just keep it on my site. I’ll let other Scanlation groups worry about their own quality control. I don’t want my stuff to be perfect for that reason, but I’m really trying my best with translations. I feel like I’m losing touch on my English these days. *sigh*

      But thanks for your comments! I really appreciate it! <3