Once upon a time, I only thought the radical anti-industry segment was the only group to come up with really stupid arguments. And don’t get me wrong, but they’ve produced some doozies. My favorite is the, “Fansubs should be protected by the First Amendment” argument. But there have been a whole laundry list of them ranging from “the companies charge too much” to “but they get to see it free in Japan”. All of them were unconditionally and unilaterally missing some fundamental fact.
It used to be that I could have a good chuckle and move on, comfortable that only the anarchists and socialists were rearing their ugly head.
And then I read this in a recent “Hey Answerman!” column:
No, just no. The industry working with fansubbers would be like the UN negotiating with terrorists.
Um… exsqueeze me? Fansubbers are terrorists now? When did this happen. There are so many things wrong with this statement that I don’t even know where to start. First terrorists have become the new “Hitler”. Essentially it’s an overused, often misused, term that basically translates into X group are horrible people. And once you’ve made that comparison you’ve lost your point. Second fansubbers are not terrorists, because that assumes that they’re doing it to destroy the industry. Now from what I can tell, there may be some out there with those aforementioned really lousy arguments, but there are just as many that seem to want the notoriety that comes from releasing shows. So a more apt comparison would be fansubbers are thieves. And they are. And following the whole chain of logic, the government does negotiate with criminals, it’s called plea bargaining.
Now I’m not going to tear apart the rest of that argument. Basically because it’s so ridiculous and contradictory that it makes my brain hurt. (In the next line he admits to downloading fansubs, so I guess that means he’s aiding terrorism). But I’m starting to wonder if reason is dead, or if we’re starting to see the rise of a whole new group of crazy people: a pro-industry/anti-fansub faction.
In some ways I can understand where it’s coming from, with Geneon collapsed and ADV seemingly on indefinite hiatus, there’s a lot of people who are starting to get desperate for the industry to succeed. They’ve been fed the company line that “Real fans don’t download. Real fans buy.” Because it would be impossible for fans to both download AND buy. A while back both Death to Zippermouth (over at WTF!) and HardCheese at Zenime had wrote a couple of posts about the nature of fansubs and purchasing from legitimate sources. So I’m not going to repeat anything that was said there, mostly because they already said it. But I will say, if I had a legal alternative to fansubs, I’d take it in a heart-beat. At least if I had a legal alternative that didn’t take more than a year to come out over here (and at the rate the US distributors are going it’s not even likely to finish).
The thing is there are plenty of good reasons for the industry to not work with the fansubbers – quality level being the biggest one. Just like there are plenty of good reasons for the industry to work with fansubbers – established knowledge base, distro routes and brand recognition being some of those. But what we don’t need in this argument are empty invectives that in the end don’t mean anything.
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