TLWiki Blocks Japanese IPs From Site

By Ishaan . May 30, 2010 . 3:33pm

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Here’s something a little disturbing. Visual novel news site Encubed are reporting that, following in the wake of the numerous cease & desist letters from visual novel publishers, the TLWiki has instituted a block that prevents those with Japanese I.P. addresses from viewing the site.

 

Furthermore, if a 2ch discussion thread regarding the issue is to be believed, three other companies aside from minori, CUFFS and Gungnir have sent C&D letters to the TLWiki, but as of this post, there has yet to be any visible response from the site. Of course, with no evidence to back up these claims, it’s hard to invest too much in them.

 

Now, while fan-translations are certainly a worthwhile endeavour, cases like these make you think about where one needs to draw the line. Personally, I believe that when the owner of a property requests that you stop modifying their work, you need to stop — no questions asked. Whatever their reasons — whether they be piracy or copyright infringement or simply a fear of their work being scrutinized by the media — publishers have the right to protect their property.

 

It’s a little sad to see the TLWiki react this way when the original purpose of fan-translations — just like manga scanlations — was to encourage professional publishers to localize certain projects. Instead, we find fan-translators waging an active war against the same people whose works inspired them in the first place.


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  • http://www.twitter.com/christaran Chris Taran

    TLWiki is my hero. Hope similar sites follow suit! Bravo to them for doing what they need to do to preserve their site.

    If these companies refuse to offer English translations, then they are getting what they deserve.

  • Ereek

    I think a line should be drawn somewhere. Neither side is “right” in this case and I certainly wouldn’t victimize TLwiki or the Japanese – it’s greyer than that.

    If it came down to the law, the Japanese have the right of it. This move just seals that.

    While the Internet is for distribution of information and communication, I think we should have a right to determine where our products go. If the creators do not want them released in English, they should be respected. You could just, you know, learn Japanese and buy them from the company to support them.

    • http://www.siliconera.com/ Ishaan

      This was my point exactly, which, unfortunately, not a lot of people seem to agree with. At the end of the day, it just doesn’t seem right to wave off the same companies whose works you’re modifying. I don’t understand this notion of “If they don’t localize themselves, they deserve this.”

      They don’t deserve anything, and frankly, neither do we. If they don’t want us playing their games, then that’s that. Someone could very well make an attempt to communicate with them and try to come to some sort of understanding, but that’s about as far as we should go after numerous cease & desists. This sense of entitlement is really annoying sometimes. It’s their product. They get to decide what to do with it.

      • Pichi

        Agreed completely. I can’t understand why many don’t understand this.

      • Aoshi00

        Totally agree w/ you there Ishaan. The sense of “entitlement” from fans is simply baffling. Some people think they’re entitled to enjoy a work even going against the original creator’s wishes. If not for the creator’s hard work such product would not exist. For example, if I drew a picture and asked someone not to post it w/o my permission, and someone say “I like your picture, you don’t grant me the permission to post it? Screw you, I can take it and show it to whomever I want, and there’s nothing you can do about it”. I as the artist would be pretty pissed.Getting hours of enjoyment based on somebody’s hard work w/o paying a dime, yea I would call that stealing.Like Ereek said, if something don’t get brought over, simple, learn Jpn and then import them to one’s heart’s content (by paying w/ money to support the people who made the product), instead of blaming the original creator for being “protective of their own work”. Again, it’s the sense of entitlement…

        EDIT: btw, I didn’t want to say anything because this issue doesn’t concern me personally, so I haven’t given these things much thought. I don’t watch fansub, I buy org Jpn manga and import games.. so they really don’t affect me. Might be a self righteous thing to say because not everyone understands Jpn (which BTW I had to spend a lot of effort learning half my life). But stealing is wrong no matter what, if someone steals because of hunger, it’s sad but he’ll still go to jail. And we’re talking about entertainment here, not a necessity.

      • SeventhEvening

        I agree with you wholeheartedly. I fully support fan-translation, but there is a certain point where you have to follow the wishes of the creators. It boggles my mind that fans of these games can’t at least try to understand the other side. The Japanese publisher’s aren’t entirely in the right, but I can understand that due to some of talk of content control legislation floating around in Japan, they might want to keep a close leash on their works.

  • http://twitter.com/matty_125 matty

    I’m with Ishaan on this. This reminds me of my recital days. If the copyright holder or composer doesn’t give you the go-ahead to allow you to preform their music it’s unfortunate, but we just have to respect that – it’s not ours. There could have been people in Japan who were interested in this.
    This feels like a step backwards by both parts. That happens when there is a lack of communication (and maybe money…).

  • Artavasdus

    Excuse me Ishaan, but, as the users on encubed already pointed out, is it right to criticize TLWiki using as a direct source for the three ignored C&Ds an anonymous post on 2chan? I would avoid believing those supposed three other C&Ds until there is solid proof of their existence, even more so since Moogy so far has always complied with the copyright owners’ requests. Failing to do so and judging Moogy and his crew in this way is simply unjust (all the “ifs” in your article aren’t so important when the last two paragraphs are written as if the C&Ds had factual evidence to support them), since with the same logic anyone could create C&D rumors about a fantranslator and no one could deny them because of the “of course, the C&D isn’t public because the translator has ignored it!” reasoning, which is kind of auto-referential. I’m not saying that TLWiki is 100% “innocent”, just that we should avoid passing any kind of judgement if we haven’t concrete evidence to support it, and I totally agree that this new IP block habit is quite sad, both for the japanese companies who employed it first and for the western sites which followed their example.That said, every fantranslator has his own reason to work on a project: some avoid any kind of work that doesn’t involve some direct approval from the authors (especially in the doujin visual novel fantranslation scene, where an agreement can actually be reached), some are interested in promoting a brand and stop immediately when they receive C&Ds or when a localization is announced (think about the Sora no Kiseki Pc translators, for example) and finally some others are simply interested in sharing with non-japanese speakers works that they have enjoyed enough to dedicate months or even years of their lives and aren’t particularly interested in complying with the right owner’s decisions if that implies the impossibility for english readers to enjoy them. I would avoid putting them all in the same category, as if fantranslators were all of the same stock and adhered to the same tenets.Moreover, even if fantranslators had the only objective of promoting official releases that still won’t click with the recent C&D drama, since companies like Minori seem to have no interest in localizations at all (but we can still go to Japan to play their vns, as their mail mentioned :P) and, while it is right to criticize those who decide to continue working on C&Ds fantranslations for their copyright infringement, it’s absolutely wrong to treat them as if they were fighting against official localizations.

    • http://www.siliconera.com/ Ishaan

      That’s why I made sure to point out that the source was questionable. :)

      • Artavasdus

        Of course you did (and I mentioned it), but then what’s the point of judging TLWiki’s behavior in the end of the article? It’s absolutely right to inform the readers of a rumor, however far-fetched it may be, but if you then proceed to criticize Moogy and co. as if that rumor was the truth the reader is induced to think that, aside from the ifs, you believe it and consider it enough to formulate an attack on TLWiki’s work ethic, even if its crew has always complied with all known C&D requests.As I see it, the criticism part would have been fine if the three ignored C&Ds had been confirmed, but is unjust in the current situation.

        That said, I fully agree with you on the whole IP block issue, both regarding the japanese companies and TLWiki.

        • http://www.siliconera.com/ Ishaan

          As the headline indicates, I’m criticizing the block of Japanese I.Ps and the reasoning behind that move, not the supposed C&Ds that were ignored. Like I said, it’s very hard to take something said in a 2ch post at face value.

          • Artavasdus

            If the IP block was the only reason of the last paragraphs’ criticism then I apologize for the misunderstatement, the “personally, I believe that when the owner of a property requests that you stop modifying their work, you need to stop — no questions asked” part made me think that that your reasoning originated from the rumor about the three C&Ds.

          • http://www.siliconera.com/ Ishaan

            No no, there’s no need to apologize. I can totally see why you might feel that way. It was about the I.P. block. :)

  • Slashlen

    Weren’t there also eroge sites that started blocking non-Japanese IPs? Not saying TLWiki’s right, but I smiled a little when I saw this. :)

    • SeventhEvening

      Right, because that’s how we should come to resolve problems. Eye for eye, tooth for tooth!

      It just strikes me as juvenile.

      • Artavasdus

        Aside from it being juvenile, it’s fairly useless. In this day and age anyone who spend some time on the web knows about proxy servers, and anyone who googles info regarding TLWiki can easily find out infos regarding their IP block policy since it has been mentioned in many news sites and boards (the same goes for the japanese sites who started the ruckus, of course).

  • http://www.tbstactics.com mjemirzian

    Great, the fan translators can block the Japanese and the Japanese can block the rest of the world. it’s a win win

  • http://geekouts.blogspot.com/ miruki

    I don’t really agree to either side.. I think it’s pretty silly for a Japanese company to say nobody outside of Japan is allowed to buy their product or even view their product’s site, hence banning non-Japanese IPs. So in a sense I think Japan deserves this…

    On the other hand, I agree that since it’s their property they have the right to make fan-translators stop their work if they don’t want them to translate their game, but Japanese companies don’t have the best reasoning imo. If it’s all about the bad reputation they get in the West (from all the rape/loli/shota/whatever other weird fetish games they publish)… I don’t think shutting themselves off from the rest of the world really helps. It’s like a little child closing it’s eyes, thinking it won’t be seen by others then anymore….

    I get why Nitro+ wanted TLwiki to stop distributing the translations of their games… a reason like “We’re gonna publish our games in the USA” sounds much more logical to me.

  • mirumu

    To me this is really more of a response to the Japanese companies blocking non-Japanese IPs. I might actually support the Japanese companies if it was some anti-piracy measure or they were planning to release or license the games in English themselves, but I don’t accept it as a viable solution for hiding eroge from western eyes. It’s pretty clear they don’t want moral crusaders from other countries demanding they stop releasing these games, and in that regard I’m with them 100%. I just feel that the “We can get away with it if they don’t know about it” approach doesn’t help anyone. Someone will always find out just how they did with Rapelay.I also say this as someone unaffected by these IP bans since I have personal IPs in the US, Japan and New Zealand that I can (and do) use to circumvent the IP blocks.

    • http://whatistheexcel.com/ Excel-2012

      I have one in Amsterdam. ‘s great.

  • http://whatistheexcel.com/ Excel-2012

    Like that’s going to stop them.

  • quitit

    See here is your problem, intellectual property is not property. The whole notion of one can own ideas is ridiculous. Copying or “pirating” intellectual property is not the same as actual theft of property. When someone copy said intellectual property, that person did not stop the sale of said item because the item can still be purchased thus no actual property was lost or stolen.

    • Joanna

      Actually intellectual property thief can happen. Think more academic, if I take your idea and claim it as my own, I am wrongfully using your hard work to make myself sound smarter and earn a good mark/credit where none is warranted. It can be very frustrating. That’s why I think, so long as you credit it, using another person’s idea is fine.In the area of video game though, this is slightly different because there is a physical end product that one uses. Granted, with stuff that isn’t localized, most English speakers would not buy the Japanese version anyway because they couldn’t understand it. I’m the same. But for stuff that is localized, saying nothing was stolen is wrong. Hours of entertainment were stolen, hours that the pirate would have to pay in order to have them. Also the people who made the game, their hard work was stolen. Essentially these people are selling their labor, and by illegally getting a product, you are making them work for free, you are stealing their time, talent, and labor.

      • quitit

        Yes you can take my ideas and I can take others etc. But that in itself is the problem. Ideas come and go, you cannot not make a claim on it because of the fact it is not scarce. I’m not going to argue the ethics on “claiming” ideas, but the lack of understanding that Intellectual Property is not real property. If materials were just as unlimited as ideas there would be no reason to claim that you stole my goods, I could just obtain another because of the fact there an unlimited source of said goods. The reason why people are up and arms about property being taken is because its scarce. Ideas cannot be held up to the same standard such as scarce good.

        • SeventhEvening

          That is perfectly sound logic in some fantasy land, but in the real world it is completely ludicrous. If someone goes through the trouble of writing a book, for example, they should be able to control who prints their book. Lets use Harry Potter for example. J.K. Rowling created characters and stories that are beloved by many people, and she has made a living off these stories. Of course, anyone can write a story about Wizards. Rowling doesn’t own that idea, or the idea of a wizard school. But those specific situations and characters are unique to her writing. They are a specific good that she is marketing. This isn’t an issue of someone staking claim to some unlimited idea, this is an issue of someone staking claim on a VERY specific idea which the sales of which keeps food in their stomachs.

          Your argument would be like me claiming I can steal your identity because there is a more or less unlimited number of other identities I can steal. Since personal information is so varied and unlimited, a persons identity can’t be held to the same standard as scarce goods.

          • quitit

            Ah logic is not in fantasy land nor is my logical conclusion on my argument existent only in fantasy, its quite easy to grasp if one is willing to understand it. Right now you are using letters, grammar etc. but if you did believe in Intellectual Property than you would now be able to speak/type these words as they are owned by some original creator. If you believe there is something as fair use or anything else then I would have to ask what constitute as fair use, how about food isn’t there a need to be fair about that? Thats right its because theres an inherent scarcity factor on such an object that we can’t just fairly give to others.

            Once someone has heard or read the story of harry potter, or any book for that matter, then yes you can now rewrite the book all you want,the only issue now is to try to claim that you are the original author or what have you. If no one wanted their book to be copy in some form then they would keep it to themselves and this goes for anything that can be made a copy of. Copying one book does not restrict the original creator of any rights, if it did then you actually have a claim but all you are admitting to is that people can claim to a monopoly of ideas.And you are right that you could take my identity, you can even take my credit card numbers etc until you actually ruin my property i.e. my money or anything tangible, then I can make a claim against you or anyone who has taken my property.It is ludicrous to believe Intellectual Property should be held to the same level as actual property. Take for example the very first time the idea of shelter was implemented, do you believe the only person who has has right to this novel idea/design is the only one to regulate this? If another man designs a house by either the same design or reverse engineering, did he really impose on the original mans right to build another house?

          • SeventhEvening

            See, you have a fantastic argument against patent law, and I agree with you in several respects there. You could argue that modern patent law holds back society and progress. But we aren’t talking about a shelter here. You seem to have absolutely no respect for art.

            Yes, you can copy books all you want for your personal use, if you had obtained an original, but you cannot distribute that copy. I say if one of those people wants translate one of those games, they can. I have pages of translations from game that I have done for my personal usage, and I could decide to share those translations with others, however, if I’m sharing an entire script to a game that is essentially a novel, the writer has a right to ask me to stop, after all, if someone walked up and handed you a copy of a book, why would you go buy another? Since apparently abstracts have no value in your eyes, and issues of creative rights for artistic works are meaningless, think about the fact that another person distributing this person’s work cuts into their possible profit. How much exactly is debatable, but it is still an issue. In this specific case it can also cause issues for the artist by creating copies of his/her work that could be utilized against them by foreign (from their perspective) watchdogs, which could not only damage possible profit, but completely shut them down.

            Back to the identity issue, I wouldn’t be using your credit card, I’d be destroying your reputation. That isn’t really your property is it? That’s just an idea. Of course, you could make a claim of libel or slander, but in effect aren’t you only protecting your abstract potential to succeed, same as these artists?

          • quitit

            This is odd, but I cannot reply to your last comment SeventhEvening. So I’ll just respond to my post.

            I cannot say why people would not buy things be it original or some copy etc. Everybody have different subjective value, some take in pride knowing they got an original, others prefer cheaper quality copy of it. The issue you bring up is the current distribution model, you wish to carry out a model that does not work so well with the current times. I’m not going to explain or give suggestion on whats the best model of distribution, that’s where the market would shine.

            Also possible profit does not belong to anyone, the only thing these creator/publisher has ownership to is the profit they did gain, any lost due to competition is not theirs and would never have been. If that was the case then we would have many lawsuit going on about possible profit lost by many companies in the same industry.

            You can destroy my reputation all you want, that is just an abstract idea and I doubt you would continue doing that until the very end. Whats also to stop me from getting a new “identity”? As long as I still have my money, property, and anything else tangible I see nothing wrong with what you are doing.

          • SeventhEvening

            The chain is too long, that is why you cannot reply. I appreciate your idealistic point of view, but it seems incredibly naive. Perhaps you live in a country that works radically different from the way things work in the United States. I was enjoying the relatively intelligent arguement with you, but that last post makes you sound like a little kid. “Get a new identity”? That works for a highschool student moving to a new town, but it doesn’t work in the real world with real businesses. Rebranding happens, but it is incredibly difficult to do. Human themselves casting off their reputation is almost impossible unless they are so incredibly unimportant to their community that no one cares. Go ahead and ask a sex offender how easy it is for him to escape reputation. They are frequently ostracized everywhere they go, few people want to hire them, some housing complexes run them off, etc. Or look at the person who has a terrible reputation of quitting jobs. No one wants to hire that person and if that person “just gets a new identity” then they won’t be hired because they appeared out of no where, can’t get a background check and have no work history. If you fabricate those you will eventually lose your job due to falsification. Believe it or not, your reputation is considerably important to your tangible things, or at least the acquisition of any further tangible things. I suppose if you’ve won the lottery or already possessed enough money to live on the rest of your life then you’re fine, but then you should at least appreciate that you are an exception to the rule.

            If everyone possessed your incredibly physical point of view, there would be no visual novels, no one stealing them, no movies, no television other than the news, no innovation and no art. What is the point in spending millions to produce a movie if you can’t make any money off it? You could argue “for arts sake”, but that’s totally bullshit. It costs serious money to create movies, tv, visual novels, games, and if you can’t even break even, those artists can’t eat. Those are massive industries that all function on the selling of stories, ideas and creativity. The fact that you can’t see that is mind boggling.

          • quitit

            I do live in United States, but I do not hold to the obscure idea of Intellectual Property, and this is coming from a recent computer science graduate; you know the same field where you’ll find most of Intellectual Property supporters.

            I am not joking when I said get a new identity, what I meant was that its just a name, so start a new life else where if your community does not accept you. If you were a sex offender, well thats your problem not mine, find a way to repent if possible. All this notion of unlawfulness due to falsification of identification etc is just like you said the law, and last I heard the law is not a positive statement, but a normative statement. If you do not understand this, read up on David Hume’s work especially on Hume’s Guillotine. Basically what should be, or what ought to be statements are normative statements and positive statements are what is and not what can or should be.

            Again not true that no one would make anything, if thats the case no one would of progress further. Linux for example is free of use, they only abide by their own rule of placing credit where credit is due or any other rule they wish to pass on their open source software. How can you make the claim that no one would do anything without knowing it i.e. have evidence for it. You just made a baseless claim and made it sound to be obviously shown that its true.

            Again I told you before that what you are arguing right now is the distribution model, if people want the said material be it movies, books, software, etc. then the original creator would make it so he/she would get this ripe market.

          • SeventhEvening

            Well, I have read many of Hume’s works, although I have not read that particular work. You should be quite well aware that Linux, while an impressive alternative and a flexible OS, does not quite possess anywhere near the level of use as the commercial OSes and is considerably less user friendly. But Linux was only born as an alternative from the already existing operating systems. As much as I hate to admit it (I love linux and have supported it from the beginning) it would likely not exist if not for Windows and Mac OS existing before it. Additionally, few people can actually use it. Unbutu has made great strides, but the system is still too obtuse for the average (or lowest common denominator) user. While I can’t entirely back up the claim that no creative works would be created, neither can you disprove it. Even your example of Linux isn’t an artistic work, but rather an infrastructure. I feel functional works such as an OS or the design of a new water pump fall into the patent protection category, which i feel your arguement is better suited for.

            Your arguement reminds me of some of the ones I’ve had with people on /., most of which are also computer science and IT guys. I doubt that either one of us will be able to convince the other one. I specialized in communication and media sciences, so I can sympathize with the artists. People who create creative works put their heart and soul into it. While some want it to spread it to anyone in anyway, some of them don’t. And I think they have a right to decide where and how their heart and soul is spread. While you may feel these are intangible and meaningless, I’d say a majority of people don’t.

          • quitit

            It is not a particular work of David Hume, its in his whole argument on morality. If you really did read David Hume’s work then you would stumble upon it, since you stated you have never even read his argument on the Is-Ought Gap then you really didn’t read or had a grasp on his argument. A simple Wikipedia or Google search on David Hume will bring you to his argument on ethics and morality.

            Linux was not formed due in part to Mac OS or Windows, it came from Unix. Unix being owned by, at the time Bell Labs, many university were the only one able to use this powerful OS and add to its library during its early stages. Then many computer science enthusiast wanted an OS similar to Unix but without the licensing fees that came with it, which bore out Linux.

            The argument that Linux is not user friendly nothing I brought up, but since you insisted. Its thanks in part due to demand for a free OS that can replace Windows or Mac OS is the reason why the GUI(graphical user interface) has now changed to where it is. If there was no demand for such a thing, I would argue most likely that the Linux environment would be the same as Unix, only used by the most tech savvy.

            Sure people put in a lot of their time and effort in designing something, writing something, filming something but if they honestly think the things they thought up is actual tangible good thats equal to gold, silver, or any other scarce material is quite foolish. If they really wanted to make money off of it they can do so, but if another sees his work and replicate it by another means, by his own intuition or simply reverse engineering it, this did not invalidate this mans right to still make the product by his own “ideas” and sell it to who ever, in fact since you are the original designer you know the intricate design and would be able to improve it faster than your copy-cat competitor. I would argue this is the reason why you have innovation not due in part of hording an idea until it runs dry by the patent office or whatever service is protecting your Intellectual Property.

  • BrotherCavil

    I’m loving this move of theirs. Too many companies are getting egotistical, and misinterpreting the very law that protects them, henceforth abuse the lawFtw, TLWiki.

  • Guest

    TLWiki didn’t declare war, but they do have the right to fight back.

    If the original creators don’t want their work translated, they can either translate it themselves or cry impotently. Their choice.

    • mach

      Or, because it BELONGS to them, they can enforce their legal rights and ask these people to stop translating stuff that isn’t theirs.

      • BrotherCavil

        Fair use. :)

        • SeventhEvening

          It isn’t REALLY fair use. Fair use allows people to quote sources or use materials for educational or research purposes. Fair use isn’t so you can do whatever you want with something that doesn’t belong to you.

          • BrotherCavil

            Not educational, or research. Fair use is the biggest weapon mash DJs have today – they take two songs that two other artists made, without permission, mash em, mix em, then release. Most of the time non-profit – those who do don’t last long due to public backlash.This is, by all means, modification of original content without intent for profit. Completely within bounds of fair use….kind of. Gray area – just short of black.

          • SeventhEvening

            Right, I’ve studied copyright law and media rights for years, so I’m familiar with DJ use of fair use. That is creating derivative works based on copyrighted materials and requires proof that the derivative work is sufficiently different from the original and cannot effect the original’s profit in anyway. Many DJs have lost cases where their derivative work wasn’t sufficiently unique.

            And that has nothing to do with this. This is taking the exact same product and altering the language. Courts look at amount of the original that is used, how essential the part which was used (whether the “heart” of the material was taken), and whether the new work could affect the original. This is the entirety of the original being used, all the essential parts as well, and it could very well affect the original ability to sell (how much so is debatable, but it would definitely have an affect). Contrary to popular belief, there is very little real grey area in the law. That is what makes studying it difficult, you have to understand that “fairness” has nothing to do with it. This isn’t in a grey area, it is plainly in the black area. Considerably deep in it.

            Now, if TLwiki is mixing two visual novels together to create a fresh new sound, then we can talk about it being safe in fair use.

          • BrotherCavil

            “altering the language”

            Which is content modification…. Once again, within bounds of fair use.

        • mach

          If you knew what those words meant, you’d realize they don’t apply in this situation.

      • Guest

        SO LATE BUT no, they can’t “enforce” this right. I don’t care whether or not they have the right. They can’t enforce it. They can try, and they will fail if they do. Even if TLWiki gets shut down tomorrow, the translations will just go to irc channels and private forums. They won’t stop.

        Again, I don’t care about the ideals or the should-bes. These companies can either get involved in the translations themselves, or they can cry impotently. No other choices. Period.

  • http://www.siliconera.com Melinda

    Translating is always a blurry line, because of the fact that there’s HUGE amounts of law involved in this.

    From a simple standpoint, it is actually NOT illegal to ask for a translation of anything. I could go to a university tomorrow and request that someone translate a work for me (for money even) and if the company told me to stop doing it, I’d claim fair use and if they tried to harass me legally, I’d send it to my local court and they’d just issue a summary judgment against them.

    I’m also allowed to even photocopy a limited amount of the work (or even scan it) for the purposes of vetting out and finding said work. In most countries, it’s 10%, and this law should be placed near university photocopiers around the world if you need to verify it.

    If you really want to get down to it, I’m even permitted to alter such work to make the translation appear (for example a game). This might disappoint major companies if I decide to hack my own copy of a game to display a translation. Of course, I’d have to do it myself, and I can’t go out selling the thing.

    However, I’m at best only allowed to use it myself (namely a private commission) and I’m generally not allowed to provide the tools to make it display in the format, but I can’t be legally stopped into doing so. Theoretically, anyone else who actually owns said original item is permitted to ask me for the translation, and I’m legally allowed to release it to them.

    All of that? International IP law, including the Bourne Convention and other fun stuff.

    So who’s right and who’s wrong? Neither side, only because it’s a very grey topic – Courts around the world traditionally side with translators because of the fact that they provide a service (you can’t copyright words, only trademark them otherwise Japan would make it illegal to translate Japanese by now) but no one’s really discovered where the line is from a legal standpoint, consequently, the note that distribution of any kind is only a theoritical.

    • malek86

      Isn’t fair use generally limited to a number of pages?

      • http://www.siliconera.com Melinda

        That is correct – 10% of a work at absolute maximum. (At least here, in Australia, but I understand we’re the most restrictive) I mentioned that in the initial post.

        It’s normally used for academic work, or if I want to commission a private translation, and I make a copy for the translator to vet and give me a quote on.

        That’s for distribution purposes – In theory, if a website would scanlate 10% of a work and run Japanese classes, that’s perfectly legal, and there’s nothing the publishing body could do about it, and any attempt to C&D and/or seek legal action would fail so badly, that if they tried it more than once, they’d get a summary judgment filed against them for unlawful harrassment.

        Nothing stops me from commissioning a translator to tell me (via the same medium, since it’s pretty absurd, even for a court, to have a translator read out every word in a novel) what I’m looking at.

        That’s where the grey line starts – It’s not illegal for you to translate anything yourself, since you are (usually) paying for a translator to tell you what the heck it’s saying. Question is, is it legal to distribute the result to a third party?

        Anyone who tells you otherwise is forgetting that converting one language to another is a service, and you can’t BAN someone translating a language. Otherwise Japan would have banned Japanese and closed bordered about fifty years ago, and language classes would be deemed illegal.

        No one’s actually gone to court over it to test that, and that’s after I spent about two years trying to hunt a case down, at least in Australia at any point.

        • malek86

          Here in Italy, we have 15%. It’s written in the first page of any university book.Either way, it’s still a limited amount. To make a comparison, that would be like taking Kanon and only translating one of the routes. In that case, wouldn’t the people who translate ALL the novel be kind of in the wrong? Although I do understand that things are not clear in the matter.Meh, one thing I don’t like about law, is that very often it seems to be not as absolute as they’d make it out to. And then there are people – people in important positions – who will circumvent it continuously. Especially here in Italy.

          • http://www.siliconera.com Melinda

            To give to someone else for whatever academic reason – Yes, but I’d only be giving out a copy of the original work for the purposes of vetting and/or quotation. (Or you’re trying to teach a university class)Thing is, if I physically hand them another copy of the book (or the copy of the book I purchased) for them to translate it, I’m not actually making a copy. That’s a bought and paid for book/game/movie or whatever it is.The line is – Translating a game from end to end isn’t illegal… as long as it’s a private agreement, and laws in your country allow for alteration of software.In short, you’re selling the translation service, not the end product. Copyright law doesn’t protect the language itself – it protects the IDEAS behind the project from unauthorized sale and/or distribution.It doesn’t mean you can ban a work from showing up in a country though – unless we’re talking military documents or other explicitly protected work (state secrets or the like), no one can stop me walking into a store and buying a novel, or a game unless there are specific laws disallowing said sale to me. (eg I’m under the legal age and want to buy an adult title)I also have to make sure that import of said item is legal as well, but you get the idea.I then can use standing law to purchase or request a translator’s services to tell me what the heck is in the legally purchased item. They can provide it to me on paper, verbally, in sign language or whatever. (Yes, translation gets interesting when someone is translating a work from one form of English to another, such as English -> Braille, Braille -> AUSLAN or even written English to spoken. Trying to prevent someone doing THAT will run you afoul of the Anti Discrimination Act 1975 and will result in hefty fines.) Professional translators will translate business documents in another language for about a dollar a word (and various loaders depending on the type of business document), even though that’s a Commerical in confidence document (Which the other party can rightfully sue to even let a third party see half the time) the other party CAN’T sue for breech of contract in this case.As you can see, translating itself is legal – it HAS to be to account for Anti Discrimination law. Doing what is required to do so is legal. (Ie. Buy two copies of a book, hand one to your translator, ask for result on paper/digital copy/audio/whatever)Distributing it? Different kettle of fish, and where the legal blurring starts. It’s definitely illegal to sell the translation commercially.Can you give it away for free? No one’s ever gone to court over such a case. Usually, most people get C&D notices and either ignore or continue, and no one’s actually bothered to get the lawyers to fight it out.

          • malek86

            Could the translation service be considered “personal”? As in, it’s legal because they translate something from your copy of the game/book/whatever. In which case, you can’t distribute it for others because they don’t have your copy?

          • http://www.siliconera.com Melinda

            The chain got too long. I have to post a reply here.

            Yes, technically the translation is personal.

            In the cases I named, the person reading it would need a copy OF the work it uses. It’s been proven a few times in courts that translation in itself is not illegal.

            The legal question becomes – Is it legal to distribute to people who physically have an identical copy?

            Heck, in theory, one could make a ‘group buying’ argument, and like I said, the law’s not that clear about that it, and no one’s dared to actually turn up to court over it yet. Until such time we see a jurisdiction rule on the matter, everyone’s sort of guessing.

            You could argue that a translator could keep a translation on file (they’re allowed to for professional reasons of course) and if a second person requests a commission of the same work, they’d resupply their original work, and not do it again from scratch. That would be legal too.

            In these scenarios though, the translator is providing a service to a work they have seen.

          • malek86

            Mh, it looks like we won’t know for sure until someone actually tries taking this to court…

            Which would only be valid in the US anyway, because other countries could give different interpretations. That would complicate things a bit.

            By the way, does Australia use the “precedent” system?

        • http://www.siliconera.com/ Ishaan

          I think you guys are on to something here.

          Perhaps a “demo” fan-translation might be in the best interests of both parties — fans and producers. It allows us, as fans, to get a feel for the game. And at the same time, it also allows the developers and publishers of these games to gauge interest and helps them understand that there is an open-minded audience outside of Japan that is interested in these games.

          • http://www.siliconera.com Melinda

            I do know I’m onto something, because I had to fork over about 1000 AU (At the time) for that legal opinion. Yeah, I have a lot of weird hobbies, including keeping an international IP specialist on hand at my own expense.

            A translation demo is completely legal, as long as it is in the limits.

            The above was provided to me after studying the legal side of translations (I studied it as part of my aborted degree in Languages – I was good at English and technical, but couldn’t study a language well enough)

            Since the chain’s too long, yes, Australia uses the precedent system, and no, it doesn’t actually matter WHERE the ruling takes place – the US, Japan and Australia (among other countries) are signatory to the Bourne Convention, and are working to implement another agreement (ACTA?) it will mean soon it won’t matter, for Copyright enforcement. Australia’s by far the strictest.

          • http://mangagamer.wordpress.com/ Kouryuu

            Actually, early on in the fan-translation scene, the translation of trial-versions and demo copies of the various games where were available free for download and trial on the companies website were translated by insani and a few other groups. They did the trial-version for Fate/Stay Night, Hanihani, Haru no Ashioto, etc. I even translated a demo of Binary Pot myself. As Illusionbreaker discusses, those trial versions are ones which everyone could easily download for free, and there wasn’t much issue to be had aside from people wishing they had more.

            The other fan-translations which I fully support, which continue on even now, are the translations of doujin games done with the permission of the original authors. insani has done so several times with their Al|together projects, and Deja vu who’s worked closely with Zig-zag and other groups.

          • http://www.siliconera.com Melinda

            Our only problem of course is the fact that with events like this, you can’t help but wonder if relations are going backward.

            I’ve been talking with a few translators and they’re concerned about the growing hostility that’s growing between the various groups. The law (as above) is one thing, but there’s been a significant amount of negative publicity around Japanese culture, so perhaps they’re just reacting by protecting it from further outside scrutiny?

            You can’t really criticize what you can’t see, and although it just makes our job harder, it’d probably keep the cursory complainants who sort of grab an end and pull from causing the bad publicity.

            Doesn’t help either that the piracy rate around translation patches is something absurdly high either…

  • epy

    RAW! RAW! Fight the power!

  • http://twitter.com/Sieghardt Sieghardt

    Instead of desperately fighting for the PRIVILEGE of playing the game of some jerks who dont want you to be able to enjoy their work for whatever reason, why not buy the games of some more deserving and appreciative groups?

  • Trotmeister

    The tone of most of the comments is pretty disturbing. How can people side with japanese companies on this issue? “They have the right”, “it belongs to them”… Aw, what a load of BS. Whatever their reasons are, they refuse us the right to enjoy their games. I say @#$% ‘em and @#$% their rights. It’s bad enough that a lot of good japanese games are never going to be translated, we don’t need corporate @$$holes shutting down those few fan efforts that are actually active.

    • http://twitter.com/matty_125 matty

      Truthfully, I believe that sort of thinking is more self-defeating.
      Sure, projects are active, but what’s stopping this groups from opening a dialogue with these companies? If things are ironed out that could open more options and possibilities for both these groups and companies; better relationships (goes a long way), income goes in the proper pockets, something where everyone’s satisfied.
      Just look at a company like Rockin’ Android; a company as small as you can get managed to get *doujin* games on a home console system. Do you realize how amazing that is? Not just indie games – games from equally small developers that took the time to work with another company overseas to push these games out there. That’s an amazing fleet to me. Who knows what could happen next.
      To answer your question, well, if the shoe was on the other foot, I’d want the same thing. Locking each other out like this will probably leave a sour taste for both sides. I mean, “they deserve it” and such to me only shows how ignorant people are handling this when someone can say, “hey, let’s think this through to show how serious we are”.

      I don’t want to discredit these groups, their role is important and they’re laying down a solid foundation. It’s a frustrating situation, but I would like to see them work something out as opposed to plow through these obstacles.

      • http://www.siliconera.com/ Ishaan

        Great points all around, Matty. I agree — going to war with publishers is probably the last thing we want to do. There has to be a better way, even if it’s slower and more time-consuming. As long as they feel threatened by their own fanbase, they’re never going to cater to us.

        • BrotherCavil

          :/ There’s this company somewhere around here called….Valve I think! You might’ve heard of em?

        • http://mangagamer.wordpress.com/ Kouryuu

          Exactly. I think people need to look at the fan-translators of Demonbane as their example. They didn’t block Japanese IPs or send a giant middle finger to Japan and keep on working. No, they started working with JAST, and are now about to see an official localization of the game, through which all parties have the potential to earn money for the hard work put into it, and still foster the market and bring the game to the English-speaking audience.

          Everyone has a big sentiment of anger towards minori for being one of the first to block foreign IPs, but not every Visual Novel company is the same. There are most likely plenty of them, including the ones issuing these C&Ds who are likely interested or at least willing to see an official localization fostered through official, legal channels.

          • Artavasdus

            I would agree with you if the Demonbane translators weren’t, as far as I know, the same TLWiki guys that are enacting the IP block. Things aren’t so simple as you put them :PThey have shown that they are absolutely willing to cohoperate with the copyright owners to do official localizations, but at the same time if the news about the ignored C&Ds are to be believed (and they may well be lies, since the only source we have is an anonymous post) they don’t seem interested anymore in complying if the japanese companies ask to stop translating without starting a localization of their own.

            I think the situation would have been extremely different if instead of all the C&Ds the japanese companies would have contacted the translators to explore the possibility of officially releasing their games (even XSeed is using fantranslators for their Falcom games), but since things took a different turn with Minori, Innocent Grey, GIGA etc it’s impossible to compare the situation with the deals concerning Nitroplus.

          • http://www.siliconera.com/ Ishaan

            Yup, demos sound like the way to go if we want fan-translations to serve the same purpose they were intended for, back when people first started them. It’s kind of funny how this industry — games as a whole — is very unique in how bi-polar it can be.

            On the one hand, the extremely passionate consumers often choose to wage war and voice their dissatisfaction with the producers. On the other, it’s also an industry where close collaborations between the two groups can result in something truly wonderful, which is something not many other industries can do.

            With that in mind, there are certainly ways you can help bridge the gap between the two parties and help them come to a mutual understanding. It just takes time and patience. :)

    • Pichi

      People like you think you are entitled to everything. Its their works/products, not yours. Its unfortunate, but do show respect. Disturbs me to see people like you disrespect the very people who gave you something you enjoy.

      • BrotherCavil

        But, in this case, they DIDN’T give us anything to enjoy… Rather, ‘they’re not letting us. That’s called spitting in our faces.

        “We made this game here for EVERYONE to enjoy – except you over there!! You can’t read our languages, hence, you DON’T BELONG HERE!” That’s their attitude here… It’s not a “sense of entitlement” that fuels the anger here – it’s simply the attitude companies are taking. Very egotistical.

        • Aoshi00

          But when a Jpn author wrote a Jpn novel, or a company made a Jpn game, why do you think they are “obligated” to you or people in other countries, that you must be able to read or play it? Do they owe you anything to begin w/? You think that if something is not localized, it’s up for grabs for distribution, w/ or w/ their approval? You stance also sounds equally egotistical. Yes, Natsume Souseki’s classic novel Kokoro was a masterpiece. And if there weren’t for an English translation. Non-Jpn speaking population would not be able to read such a great work. I’m not expert on copyrights, but I find it rudimentary to respect the wishes of the original creator, doesn’t matter the reason (they dont have the resources, don’t think it’s profitable, etc), they don’t “owe” us anything. Let’s think about it this way, fans in Jpn need to spend 6,000 yen to buy a game, and the creator doesn’t think it’s “fair” for so many people overseas to play their game w/o paying a penny, it’s not fair for the Jpn fans, it’s not fair for the original creator. Yes, they didn’t localize it in English, but I don’t understand how fans “expected” they’re “obligated” to do so, and used that as a perfect excuse or justification to stealing somebody’s hard work.For example, I drew a 20 page comic myself, and it’s in English. Post it on my website and state that it is not to be used w/o my explicit permission. Someone in another country takes the liberty of posting my comic w/ translation, w/o notifying me and going against my wishes. Should I be happy about it? Yea, someone’s translating my work for free, giving it more exposure, blah blah blah, but I still get to have a say on how my work is viewed and viewed by whom (unless you think it’s no big deal for me to be stripped of that right). And this is a simple example, not a game or book that that gets made by a team of people in many years.

          • http://www.twitter.com/christaran Chris Taran

            You’re right, they don’t owe us anything, and they are free not to translate their work, however if they do not, others will. That is their choice, and it is our choice if we want to purchase their games and translate it into a language that we can enjoy it in.

          • Aoshi00

            If you truly think one’s enjoyment comes before the creator’s right and justifies infringement/stealing of their work, yes, stealing, then good for you. It just seems ludicrous to me people claim the original creator has not rights whatsoever, and I do not understand this logic how it is okay to distribute someone else’s hard work w/o their approval.

            It’s like the game Steins;Gate is released (ported to PC later), and somebody thinks it’s a good game, but 5pb did us a “disservice” of not releasing it in the US, so I will translate it w/ or w/o your permission. yes would be nice for everyone to enjoy, but since when is that a rule? I just ordered the game, I have a Jpn 360, I bought the game for $70, I’ve learned Jpn for years so I’m able to understand the language. I paid for everything. I would say it’s unfair for some to play a fan translation (= bootleg) w/o paying a cent. But hey, maybe I’m just too bound by my morals

          • http://www.twitter.com/christaran Chris Taran

            @Aoshi00

            Explain where this stealing takes place? Pirating has nothing to do with this conversation.

            As an example. I purchased/imported Clannad. Paid my dues and respect Key for charging for their games. I then applied a patch to the game that lets me play it in English. Where is this stealing you speak of here?

          • Aoshi00

            I guess I can safely say many people (you give me a percentage) did not buy the original Jpn copy? It’s like music, people d/ling mp3s or an entire soundtrack w/o paying for the CD or online, yes, that’s stealing. It’s digital files, it’s still stealing, people could put any spin on it to say it’s not, because it’s not a loaf of bread from a supermarket’s counter.So they didn’t translate Clannad for many reasons, and don’t want others to do it either (so tons of people could play the game for free). Tough luck, it was a game made by a Jpn company primarily for the Jpn audience. They didn’t have the American audience in mind. Solution, learn Japanese. If you pay $70 and understand the Japanese language and the creator STILL doesn’t let you play the game, then that’s a different matter, I don’t think they are many people like you who paid full price to import something they don’t understand. Or say a French movie, it’s not released in the states, but I don’t understand French myself, so I “demand” a subtitled version, and if the creator has anything to say about it not wanting it to be translated, my rights to enjoy this movie in a language that I’m able to understand comes first.Or like a manga, say Hunter x Hunter, people read scanlation, don’t need to pay a dime. When the Jpn book comes out, I go to Kinokuniya, pay $7 + tax to buy the book, I know I paid my fair share. So for those who have read the entire manga w/o paying a cent, yes, that’s stealing, from Shueisha, from Viz, from Togashi.

            And when things do get brought over, so someone could make money off of it god forbid, people would complain it’s too expensive and not worth it, a manga should be $5 or below and not $7, a visual novel should be $20 but not $50, etc.

  • Xien12

    Game companies don’t seem to realize that it would cost a lot of money to do a sub-par but “official” translation. By having fan-translators around, they don’t have to pay anything and (some)people import said games which generally cost more per unit than it would in the U.S. which would give them more money. Frankly, having unofficial translators out there is more of a boon than something disastrous. With all this meddling going on, it makes one wonder if the game companies are Doing It For The Art or not.

  • raduprisacaru

    Wow! Thank you! I always wanted to write in my site something like that. Can I take part of your post to my blog?

    • http://www.siliconera.com/ Ishaan

      Sure, go right ahead. Could you leave a tiny link back to Siliconera though? :)

      • http://twitter.com/matty_125 matty

        Uh, I think that’s a bot, but at least he asked permission first ;P

        • http://www.siliconera.com/ Ishaan

          …now I feel stupid. ><

          • http://geekouts.blogspot.com/ miruki

            Hahahaha… how cute.. XD

  • raymk

    This is some good stuff that everybody had to say I’d give my 2 cents if i had enough time lol.

  • http://whatistheexcel.com/ Excel-2012

    I wonder if anyone at TLWiki is reading this comment thread and laughing their heads off.

    • SeventhEvening

      I’m not so sure they’d be laughing. I think they probably expected a lot more unanimous support than they’re getting here.

    • http://twitter.com/onburasto sm

      The admin probably doesn’t care since he pirates everything anyway.
      So yeah, definitely laughing.

  • http://thrust-the-sky.deviantart.com/ WildArms

    I dont think is such a bad way of doing things… i mean, 99.999% cant bring any VN from japan, and so the VN appears, sells in japan and disappears for all eternity…, what’s so bad if other people just translate it to give to ppl who cant have a chance?, of course is bad if i was the creator to see your work ripped (even if they cant sell many or anything outside), but this is what is making ppl to start linking visual novels around other parts of the worlds, they ban Japanese IP, now if some japanese wants it, or some english talking dude that lives in japan xD, they have to buy it (because they can anyway)

  • MisterNiwa

    If Japanese dont want us in their hostess bars, then we wont let em in our TLwiki!

    What am I saying.. !? I dont even know whats that all about.. :I

  • Aetheus

    I find it a bit ridiculous for both sides of the fence to be “warring” over this issue. On the one hand, TLWiki’s blocking of Japanese IPs doesn’t solve the problem at all – it certainly won’t change the mindset of the game companies, and it isn’t as though these blocks aren’t easily circumvented. And on the other side – why BOTHER blocking a translation in the first place? Most of these game companies (Minori, for instance) do not intend to ever localize their works. And no, the piracy argument doesn’t work well here. Piracy hurts game companies because it costs them sales – but native english speakers wouldn’t even purchase the game in the first place, if they weren’t confident that they could play it. Infact, translation projects may actually encourage people to buy the game itself. I won’t deny that translation projects will always cause a few people to resort to piracy – but these are individuals who would never have purchased the game anyway. If they could understand Japanese, they would never have needed to wait till translation patches were released before they went hunting for pirated copies. The game companies aren’t being denied sales – because these sales wouldn’t have happened to begin with.

  • http://twitter.com/onburasto sm

    The TLWIKI admin has never been professional in any way shape or form.
    He’s never held a job, was underage for the longest period of time, knows no Japanese, and had his dad pay for hosting a website that has somehow made him an indispensable member of the translation community.
    That’s garbage.
    Every discussion about legitimate ownership of ANY copyrighted material with this individual has ended up with the question “Why should I bother paying if I can get it for free?”
    To see him remotely involved in anything professional (the N+ localizations) is laughable.

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