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How Scanlations impact manga licensing statue

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Post #764674
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3:52 am, Oct 17 2018
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A translator that worked for a manga company explains how scanlation can potentially prevent a series from being officially licensed.


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Manga Planet: Ahh, I see. So scanlation can be incorporated into your portfolio. Since you worked on the industry side, has your opinion of scanlation changed?

Beverly: I’d say my opinion of scanlation since my teenage years has definitely changed, but when I actually got into it, I was already of the mindset that it wasn’t a good thing for the industry. I was really upfront with my group about the fact that I was basically doing it for practice and they were really accepting and just happy to have another translator on call. I’m really happy with the things I worked on with them because it is an artist I love dearly, but it is a double-edged sword because I do love that artist, and I want them to get an official English release, and I know I’ve hurt that chance for her now.

Manga Planet: What you mean that it “hurt that chance for her now?” Many readers and other scanlators tend to argue that having scanlations could help the artist since it would build an audience for them.

Beverly: It may not be so common knowledge on the other side of the circuit, but when an artist already has well-known scanlations out for some of their work, that can actually become a reason for people not to get a license.

Because scanlation is not new to the scene, companies are already aware that the hit to sales is already there. Since like only 5% of people who read scans actually buy, your target market is people who have heard of the title but haven’t read scans.

It is a big catch-22. If something is already scanlated, then you want if to be popular enough for people to know the artist name, unpopular enough that people will actually buy it. There are even some scan groups whose reputations ruin it for the artist.

I won’t name names, but basically, the ones that are known to still release chapters once the official license is announced, or actually hear about the license and purposefully release everything instead of stopping.

It’s actually a lot more common than you think, and licensors know who these groups are. I can say that when I worked at the manga company, we tried to reach out nicely and warn some people we were going to license something and get them to find a nice stopping place, and people burned us. That sticks with you. Anytime you get the chance to release something that you know that group did— you DO double think it. And it’s absolutely awful to think about as a fan.

Manga Planet: So “double-thinking” leads to series not being picked up?

Beverly: I think it relies heavily on where you are as a company and your corporate outlook though. Like we went through with the (one scanlated series) we did it because it was a very popular title and we expected traffic for it. (Also, the freelancers were jumping at the bit for it.) Had we gotten a license to another work that scanlation group was doing down the line, I probably would have turned it down.

Manga Planet: This is definitely something we have thought about even at Manga Planet-the scanlation status of an artist’s work. So in this regard, you would say that scanlation hurts the industry, specifically artists, more than it helps?

Beverly: I would say so. As a fan, I understand wanting to share your favorite artist with people. And not to get all grandma up on this interview, but back in my dayyyy (haha), you shared the official print. Even in the digital age, you can share the official digital release. The problem with scanlation is that it’s spoiled us. I actually saw something the other day. Someone was posting a top 30 shojo manga list—and something I worked on was on it. I was over the moon! So I click to see what the comments are, and there it was. “Ugh, this cost money. Can someone pay and put it up on an illegal website so we can read it for free?” (I’m not kidding—they typed illegal!) Not only does that hurt the artist, the industry, and the people who DO do this stuff officially’s paycheck, it is the most indescribably serrated knife stab in the back of everyone trying their hardest for this industry. And the problem is, and I know people don’t want to hear it, this is not the minority.



https://mangaplanet.jp/scanlation-speaks-scans-hurt-trans lator-beverly-maynor-interview/

What do you guys think?

Post #764676
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6:56 am, Oct 17 2018
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Imo there are two sides to it.

The highly popular series:
Harping on something like this is rather absurd tbh. It's like companies complaining that people rip off movies and tv series and put them on the internet. Difference being that scablation involves actual work and dedication instead of just stealing from others. It happens. Sue them all or get over it. You have a big market either way unless you wanna tell me one piece will suddenly stop selling.

Unpopular series:
Let's be real this industry is like 10 years late to the party. If you think you can just translate the most popular works and ignore the rest, a lot actually considered better than those giants by the community then sorry, no, you don't deserve any consideration now. You went for the quick easy bucks instead of building an audience. But yes, continue to live off the audience other people built for you for free. Honestly scanlators have all the reason in the world to despise these kinds of companies, who will intimidate them with threats to sue them and leeching off something they built.

Also can these corporate bots just look at Netflix? Offering a moderately priced alternative in the case of digital media consumption to pirating works. People are willing to pay for stuff when it's convenient. But should any customer have to wait 2 years so they finally release the first translated volume? They didn't build their market, they are vastly inferior to their competition in some cases while having almost no benefits for the consumer.

If you can't make a product people are willing to buy in this day and age then to be honest get out of the industry. Or basically any industry. Don't blame the consumers for your own insecurities cause they "might not like what you try to sell them".
All I can see here is an industry butthurt over others doing a better job than them free of charge. Maybe, instead of blaming others, be better?

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Post #764677
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7:16 am, Oct 17 2018
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Quote from Manga Planet
To find answers, we spoke with Beverly Maynor, a professional Japanese to English translator with experience both in scanlation and the manga industry.

Okay, what companies has she worked at? Let's look at her Twitter...
Quote from Beverly
English doujinshi debut is now available on @FAKKU!

They literally could not have made a worse decision of someone to represent on this topic. Also, both of her Twitter accounts are only a month old. But, alright, let's look at the interview.
Quote from Manga Planet
{Making broad statements and failing to list and specifics when it came to her job. Even something as simple as just name dropping a company, naming a website, or even just the city district where they work, would lend her some credibility, but she does none of that.}
...
“Ugh, this cost money. Can someone pay and put it up on an illegal website so we can read it for free?” (I’m not kidding—they typed illegal!)

In the universe of things that never happened.
Quote from Manga Planet
A lot of scanlators say ‘well this will never be licensed anyway so we’re just bringing what would never come to English over’ or they’re offering ‘timely English releases.’

Those scanlators do have a point when you have series like Giant Robo that are over 50 years old and without an English release. Also, it's been 17 years since Elfen Lied came out, and it's just now getting an "official translation". Even looking at some of the "highest rated" manga I've read, Beelzebub wasn't picked up, Keyman - The Hand of Judgement wasn't picked up, Tobaku Haouden Rei wasn't picked up...
Quote from Manga Planet
And not to be harsh but: Who made you the overlord of all licensors? How do you know what would or wouldn’t be licensed? Impatience is not a publishers fault.

Yes, it damn well is. You don't give the public a product they want to buy, or do deliver on the product except it's a shoddy job and/or even censor it, people are not going to give you their money. It's a simple process. The only people who can't understand this are you who think that berating and chastising your customers, and holding over our heads that "You need to support the industry" when we know full well that the original creator won't see a dime, will make people want to buy from you.
Quote from Manga Planet
In a perfect world, if this manga wasn’t prematurely released, who’s to say what would or wouldn’t get translated into English? Yes, some publishers are picky. Of course, they are. This is something that they worked hard to make a consumable product with the artist. If people want a faster release in Japan, they can’t just take it from something that doesn’t exist yet. They have to wait until the artist creates it. So why does a publisher waiting for the right offer to come along and release it a way that will be satisfying to them and their artist, give you free reign to their copyrighted product?

Those are completely different, and she's just grasping at straws. In a perfect world, we wouldn't have this "problem" in the first place because we wouldn't have had to put up with decades of companies rewriting and censoring stories, attacking customers, and/or hoarding licenses to prevent companies from "getting the good ones". Also, we've seen companies attempting to "make a consumable product", and all it becomes is a crap-filled meme-fest. We just want the damn story translated, NOTHING ELSE!!! Lastly, the product already exists in Japan and it's your own damn fault for not realizing that you could have made some money by releasing a little of everything instead of waiting for the next Dragon Ball or One Piece. Numerous television stations here in the U.S. have stagnated because everything has to pull in the same viewership numbers as Game of Thrones or risk getting cancelled, film companies require every one of their films to break some record while leaving all projects of dedication and a possible following out to die, gaming companies have effectively killed their entire catalog and will only release "flavor of the month titles"...

Who's the one at fault here?
Quote from Manga Planet
I think that one varies too much depending on the site for me to give a good answer too.

I can only attest to what I know, and I can’t give you exact numbers but, one thing readers seem to forget is that when it comes to an English release, it’s not just paying someone to translate and typeset. Step one is getting permission from the publisher, a part of that is agreeing on a publishing fee, and what percentage of sales goes back to the publisher(and a cut of that goes to the artist themselves) Depending on titles, this can be tens of thousands of dollars for AAA titles, maybe even hundreds.

On top of that, you have the staff at the English publishing office, who facilitate freelancers or in-house resources for translation, typeset, and any corrections. This is the part that scanlators do for free. They skip that thousands of dollars up front step.

Now, unfortunately, I don’t typeset so I can only speak to what I know, but translation wise– remember this is my bread and butter, I live off this. In an ideal world, everyone is aiming for like at least $20.00 an hour at their full time, college graduate jobs, yeah? Depending on who you’re working for, this can mean anywhere from 4 pages to 20 pages an hour. (You can see how this range hurts me) And how quickly you go is determined by how much text is on a page, how hard it is, etc. Here’s a sample page from one of the works I do with Enshodo from a series called Mesmerism.

Now, as you can see, there is quite a bit of text here, and Mesmerism has a hypnotherapy theme. I’ve never had hypnotherapy before, so this did take some research etc.

I mean, I’ll be blunt, this page alone took me probably took me at least 30 minutes. I have never earned anywhere near $20.00 an hour doing manga, and I probably never will. And I doubt this page was any quicker for the typesetter- bless their talented little soul.

TL;DR: all the money you pay for when acquiring these English releases are funding the translation companies and their continued existence, a very small amount is, if ever, given to the actual creator.
Quote from Manga Planet
A lot of Japanese publishers are really clueless when it comes to what it takes to make an English release.
...
And I certainly think that Japanese publishers aren’t as aware of interacting with fans. Especially in the states, social media is a big way of spreading people’s awareness of a brand.

SHUT THE FUCK UP, YOU BITCH! THEY KNOW PERFECTLY WELL THAT TRANSLATION COMPANIES IN THE WEST ARE RIPPING EVERYONE OFF. Stop complaining about how people who do it for free are doing a much better job than anything you're capable of.

Also, sorry, but I'll be importing my copies of works straight from Japan, that way the actual creators will get all my money and you won't see a penny from me.

Last edited by Transdude1996 at 7:34 am, Oct 17

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Post #764678 - Reply to (#764677) by Transdude1996
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7:57 am, Oct 17 2018
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Quote from Transdude1996
Numerous television stations here in the U.S. have stagnated because everything has to pull in the same viewership numbers as Game of Thrones or risk getting cancelled, film companies require every one of their films to break some record while leaving all projects of dedication and a possible following out to die, gaming companies have effectively killed their entire catalog and will only release "flavor of the month titles"...


One word. Shareholders. The scourge of capitalism and the newest fad right now. It doesn't matter how much money you make, if you don't make more than last time it's a failure. Its what happens when you tie profits to earnings of a company with variable release/sell dates of various quality instead of businesses or goods that are more stable by nature.

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Post #764679
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I honestly think a boom in scanlation a few years ago has actually helped get more manga licensed.

I remember walking into the comic book stores like, 10 years ago and there was a hilarious lack of choice. Main titles were the only ones being licensed. Your Naruto's and One Pieces and whatever was popular in the Shoujo section. Then I started to notice some of the other license companies started to release lesser known titles (but known to me- a manga fan) and it was great! Suddenly, I was starting to see more choices.

Now I walk into a comic book store and I'm amazed at the choice of manga to purchase. They're even licensing Yuri, which was unthinkable back in the day. I've bought them too, because sure, there are scans of them online but hell yeah I wanna have my own copy.

Don't forget that purchasing manga is a commitment. You need space for this shit. You can't be buying whatever takes your fancy at face value. Manga aint cheap too! It is in Japan (hello BookOff) but in the West? No chance mate. You're looking at £10+ a volume with no second hand sales about (that are reliable anyway. It'll be a one off volume or something) If I want to buy the series, I have to know that I like it and would read it again. It's an expensive purchase and it's not like in Japan where they can just buy and sell because there's a market and they recycle their manga well.

Now if she's speaking on digital releases only, I can see why it would be an issue. The quality of the digital release would have to be immaculate (does anyone remember Crunchyroll's first attempts lmao) because if you're gonna pay for it when there are free versions which look and flow better then yeah. Why would I pay money for a worse version of the release?
I can see why it would be an issue in this regard. As a long time fan, it's the norm to be able to read manga online for free, and if I paid for it, I would want it to be my own physical copy. I don't really keep digital copies, so personally no, I wouldn't pay for a digital release. But that's down to my own personal preference.

To say that scanlation hurts licensing overall though I think is ultimately incorrect. She wouldn't have even got the job if it wasn't for scanlation, she said that herself in a round about way. I think the rise in manga available to us in the west has risen a lot and it's mostly down to scanlation let's be real here.

If people want to pay, they will. If they do not, then they ultimately don't care enough about the series anyway. If they can get it for free, great. If they can't, they'll move on. Simple.

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1:57 pm, Oct 17 2018
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There wouldn't be a problem if scanlators simply quit doing licensed manga. But just like any addict, many leechers will come up with any number of excuses, from plausible to bizarre, for why scanlations should never stop. In reality, people just want everything free and they want it now, and plenty of scanlators will do it free and now and licensed for the popularity. Not to mention some small monetary income.

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Post #764697 - Reply to (#764686) by cmertb
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Quote from cmertb
There wouldn't be a problem if scanlators simply quit doing licensed manga. But just like any addict, many leechers will come up with any number of excuses, from plausible to bizarre, for why scanlations should never stop. In reality, people just want everything free and they want it now...


Agreed. Even if your model is free/just ads to cover server costs and difficult to take legal action against, you should comply with an official request to stop scanlating a licensed series. For those groups who ask for/get donations or Patreon supporters, etc, they have less of a choice when handed an official notice.

As the other comments have explained, claiming that scanlations hurt the industry is a very questionable claim. Scanlations played a much larger role in building an audience than official translations, and still continue to play a large role. This is especially true for simply getting exposure for manga in general in the recent past, but still true for those who wouldn't buy volumes anyway. A non-adult reader is very unlikely to purchase anything no matter the official offerings. Having free scanlations easily available is what creates young fans. Anime/manga fans tend to be long-time fans, so you can hope that they spend money down the line. Obviously, this doesn't much help these translation companies at this moment, but it's an important point to consider.

I remember reading a certain series licensed by TokyoPop that went into limbo around 22 volumes out of 37 (because the North American branch of TokyoPop shut down following the bankruptcy of a client company)... Yes, this wasn't because the quality sucked or they randomly decided to drop it, but the point remains: I would gladly purchase entire series (digital or physical) if they were made available in a timely fashion. I would not be happy with half a series translated and the rest never forthcoming. In a similar vein, many official translations are of poor quality and/or painfully slow to update. If there is an official version comparable to a fan-made version, I don't mind paying to support the series. Sadly, this is rarely the case.

The bottom line is this: people are happy to pay for a product they're happy with. Until official sources can provide as such, they should stop whining and blaming the/potential customers.

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Post #764917
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12:04 am, Oct 30 2018
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Interesting. I gotta stew on this before really commenting on it I guess, but, then that begs the question of why things like showa-era manga (mostly referring to 60s and 70s with that) or even things like Tottemo Luckyman aren't licensed. I get that it's also because manga licensees are as scared of risk on things outside the norm as manga and anime production companies are, but still. I saw someone earlier in the thread mentioned Getter Robo and that's another good example. Scanlations, at least I think for the most part, are a product OF industry people not giving the consumer a product they want.

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Post #764926 - Reply to (#764917) by AkumatsuT
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Apparently, very few people are interested in reading old manga. Even in scanlation, barely anyone reads releases of the classics. Scanlators are chasing after the newest hottest manga even if it is licensed.

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Post #764930 - Reply to (#764926) by cmertb
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Quote from cmertb
Apparently, very few people are interested in reading old manga. Even in scanlation, barely anyone reads releases of the classics. Scanlators are chasing after the newest hottest manga even if it is licensed.



I mean I guess, but I think that's a product of the industry, it's a somewhat self-fulfilling cycle. The industry constantly pumps out way too much new manga all at once to chase trends, people buy it because "well if I don't keep up I can't talk to my friends about manga", and then forth only try to keep up with what's current. I could be wrong of course but I just don't think it has to be this way. Alternatively, that's also a mistake for scanlators, obviously, if it's gonna be the newest hottest manga, then some big company is gonna license it anyway. Granted, I'm sure they don't care, but it's a really stupid system.

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Post #764935 - Reply to (#764930) by AkumatsuT
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I'm telling you this has nothing to do with the industry. There are scanlation groups that do old manga. It's all free. And yet very consistently the vast majority of readers choose the newest stuff, something that hasn't even finished serializing yet.

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Post #764938
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2:56 pm, Oct 30 2018
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It makes sense that if there were a high-quality, up-to-date scanlation for a series, that would be a reason for publishers not to pick it up. Conversely series are probably helped by low-quality or slow scanlations that can generate interest in a series and leave readers wanting more. Either way, I think that Lorska makes a good point about how industries need to evolve - whatever the effect of scanlations, they exist and aren't going to go away.

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1:08 am, Nov 14 2018
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I've been struggling with this a lot recently. While I purchase 95% of manga series that are eventually published I buy it. Now publishers like Kodansha are leaning into digital releases, would I buy a digital release that I've already read online? Mmm... probably not.

I've read of Mangaka that are livid with scanlators as people in Japan who know English are seeking out these scans too. Even just the scans before translation if Japanese people get it. So it isn't just affecting the ENGLISH market, it is affecting the Japanese market as well.

But on the other side of it all... there are publishers who abandon series. Suppli/Crimson Hero/Shinobi Life... all abandoned to never be touched again by another publisher or scanlator ever again. Then what? Even after purchasing I get screwed over!

I think the one saving grace some publishers have is a lot of scanlators were stingy and refused to let their series end up on aggregator sites and have since closed taking all the scans with them.

I will continue to buy, and I think Kodansha is doing a great job with digital releases. Once they can bring down prices it might be more competitive. Until they can set up something like netflix it's gonna be hard to fight scanlations. 🙁

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I don't doubt scanlations can have an impact on what does and doesn't get licensed, although I'm suspicious of it being as severe as what she claims in the interview. But there's other serious problems besides that which are holding digital manga in particular back. First off, I was one of those who got burned by JManga, so I'll never buy digital manga that I can't download a DRM-free file to keep forever. I don't believe that's possible without doing things on your own to strip the DRM, so there's no digital manga I'd buy. I'm far from the only person who feels that way, even people who weren't directly burned by JManga have heard of what happened, making them leery of "buying" digital manga.

Next, the all-you-can-read services largely have a total shit selection. I kept up a subscription to CrunchyRoll a couple of years longer than I should have to try and support them, but the lack of timely updates on titles I did like, their library of titles not growing much, and most of what was added being awful, I ended up dropping it and probably won't ever subscribe again. I've looked at Tokyo Otaku Mode's selection some, and while I found a few titles that were amusing to read, most of what I found on there isn't even listed on MAL or here. There's no way I'd pay for a subscription for what they have on offer.

The first problem can be overcome easily enough, by companies admitting that whatever they release digitally is going to have the DRM stripped by pirates and it shared anyway, so they should release it DRM-free to start with. The second problem may be insurmountable. I doubt there's any company with the clout and finances to get a critical mass of good titles in one legal online reader. There's far too many obstacles, especially licensing, for that to happen. And so, legal digital manga is likely to continue to muddle along, while pirate reader sites remain insanely popular because they give people what they really want: a large selection of good manga to read in one place.

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7:46 am, Nov 14 2018
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The last 2 posts just show the main issues... There is a need for the industry to adapt but that didn't happen yet, at least not sufficiently enough.
I'm fairly sure people would pay a subscription for a well curated library of translated manga but the issue is you need a certain quality standard and size. The easiest approach would be buying the rights to manga that are a few years old already so likely are beyond their main selling window and get those translated. The issue is that this would require extensive resources and this is just the easiest solution. Nobody would care for them to just release the most popular x manga because you don't have your manga enthusiast crowd waiting extra time for mainstream releases. Basically you need a bigger focus on variety than with similar services that could get by with just the big sellers.

Another problem is that like all subscription services off existing media they have to deal with the time delay. Basically you don't get traction with things people have already seen immediately but catch them after it trickled down a bit.

I disliked crunchy from the start. I thought their translations were kinda so-so and I absolutely hated their white knight attitude while having a mediocre library at best.

The problem basically lies with who decides what's a good manga. And the readership is so extremely varied that the answer is you can't. You would have to just translate a ton and put everything out. And companies don't like to take risks. They'd rather half-ass it and gain mediocre profits than risk losing anything. So yes I agree with Manabi, I don't see change coming anytime soon cause nobody wants to take the risk to innovate.

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