Kodansha’s Recent Crackdown on Manga Helpers

I’ve had a few people ping me for my thoughts on Kodansha’s cease and desist order against Manga Helpers to remove all of the raw scans of various Kodansha properties, to include Negima! So, I will post my thoughts.

How soon we forget.

It wasn’t that long ago that certain Japanese fans were scanning entire manga magazines and uploading them for Japanese and other fans to grab well in advance of said manga magazines going on sale in Japan. Negima! was one of those titles that were getting the early scans so that scanlations might also be released prior to the Wednesday release of Weekly Shounen Magazine, often as early as Saturday! There was a crack down in Japan so that some people were arrested and convicted for all of this scanning.

You're Under Arrest

That ended the early scans of Negima! from Japan. Further, Japanese bloggers with early access to the magazine don’t blog the series ahead of time either (whether this was forced upon them as part of the crackdown or whether they decided to do this on their own, I don’t know for sure). That way, Kodansha is appeased, the bloggers are allowed to share imagery from the manga, and everyone wins.

Outside of Japan, I recall there being much consternation over the loss of the Japanese scans but there have been more than a few people pick up the torch, some apparently also having very early access to Weekly Shounen Magazine and thus many times we started getting complete scans of the current Negima! chapter as early as late Sunday night in the U.S. When I started noticing these raw scans appearing before Wednesday, I made mention of how dangerous posting scans that early was considering how the Japanese do not take kindly to their works being published before they go on sale in Japan (and rightly so). My thought process on this was that IF these scanners waited until Wednesday to upload the raw scans, Kodansha might well turn a blind eye to the issue. If the raws continued to be posted early, I feared that Kodansha would be forced to do something about it. My fears were proven correct.

Now, in addition to not having any Kodansha raws being posted on Manga Helpers, there are no scanlations of Kodansha titles there either. Since the majority of people going to Manga Helpers were there for various raws or scanlations, it would seem that site has been hurt pretty badly.

Obviously, this won’t stop people from scanning the manga and uploading it. It won’t stop the scanlations. However, what I do hope it does is give those involved in the entire scanlation process pause so that nothing they do appears on the web before Wednesday. That way they aren’t sticking it in Kodansha’s eye. If we non-Japanese fans continue to thumb our noses at Kodansha, they will continue to lay the smack down and that won’t be good for anyone.

What about the spoilers?

Well, considering how the Japanese have not cracked down on Japanese fans posting them, I think those are still going to be OK. They tend to disappear quickly from the places they are uploaded to (mainly because of limited storage space, so the images are often auto-deleted to allow new stuff from others to be uploaded) and even if they don’t disappear, they have a limited life span that ends when the manga is published. So those aren’t really a threat to Kodansha and do provide a means of generating chatter for the upcoming chapter in the magazine.

I’m not passing judgment of scans or scanlations themselves. What I am saying is that a little common sense and common courtesy would appear to be in order for the Japanese company that publishes this Negima! goodness for us — don’t upload raws until Wednesday at the earliest. ^_^

Negima!

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20 Responses to “Kodansha’s Recent Crackdown on Manga Helpers”

  1. fg7dragon says:

    Yeah, I agree. If they have it so ahead of time, they could translate it to english till wednesday and post them togeder, lol. Or rather then post them, they could mail it to a scanlation group that is on the project.

  2. Tim says:

    Even if you wait a few days, scanning their magazine and posting it illegally on the internet is still pretty much thumbing your nose at Kodansha.

  3. AstroNerdBoy says:

    I don’t know if it is thumbing your nose if you respect the embargo (though as I think of it, I’m sure some would do this as an act of defiance), but you are right that all complete scans of a manga are illegal. Kodansha could crack down all over but they didn’t crack down on sites hosting scanlations only. They only cracked down on Manga Helpers, who were posting numerous raws of various manga titles at least two days before their release in Japan.

  4. Alba says:

    @ANB

    To continue from what you said in your reply, let me ask you one question, please give an honest answer. Have you or have you not personally made use of the early raws by downloading them from Mangahelpers or some other source? If you have, you’re still a hypocrite, because then you’re one of the people who create demand for this early posting of raws, just like many others here, including me. It doesn’t matter if you thought this was a bad idea or not or whether you delayed your reviews or not, if you used their service you’re a hypocrite for slamming it now. I also knew it was only a matter of time they got cracked down on because of what they did, but I’m not going to blame them for it because it was very convenient for me as an impatient fan.

  5. otakubaka says:

    and so it begins…. again. just wish they’d realize that posting raws online helps boost readership and such

  6. relentlessflame says:

    Zero-day releases have always been the number one way of getting the Japanese publishers to take action against you. I remember some years ago that MediaFactory pulled a similar move against AnimeSuki after some fansubbers had posted a zero-day fansub of Akane Maniax. And it was one of those “and while we’re at it, please remove all of our other properties too”, just like this. So this isn’t exactly a new “trick”, but no one ever learns (mostly because the level of attrition is high enough).

    As was said, not that it’s ever more or less *legal*, but all publishers consider breaking their press/release dates a big deal. So this is just a matter of not being stupid, for the most part.

  7. Anonymous says:

    @Alba

    It ain’t about whether any of us download the raws early. I download them early because they are out there early. I would be just as happy to download them later as I am happy to get a scan at all and thankful to those who take the time to scan Negima and other manga I read. I do not want to see us lose scans completely simply because someone decides to post them early. I can see Kodansha going after those who upload scans if it continues.

  8. arimareiji says:

    @Alba: You have a point about not even d/l’ing early raws, and I will keep it in mind the next time (if ever) I see one available.

    But repeatedly calling people names (“hypocrite, hypocrite, hypocrite!”) in response to a polite, reasoned request that people think about what they’re doing is needlessly inflammatory. It’s also counterproductive, if your aim is to get ANB – or anyone else – to change their mind.

  9. arimareiji says:

    @Anonymous: I think Alba does have a point. People who scan, translate, scanlate, etc. tend to have the motives of helping others and/or feeling important, in varying degrees.

    By downloading, we feed into those motives and give them reason to think they should continue.

  10. So the new chapters of Negima (and its companion series in WSM) don’t come out until Wednesday? Hm. So when we get the scanlations on Friday or Saturday, they’ve actually only been out in Japan for a couple of days and the raws are coming out several days beforehand? You learn something new every day.

    So, how are these people getting the new releases of WSM so early in the first place? Aren’t there restrictions on breaking street date in Japan, or are the scans coming from subscribers (WSM can be subscribed to, right?) who get their copies in the mail before the issue hits the street?

    As for the reactions of Kodansha, breaking street date is an understandable reason to initiate a crackdown. About the only time Japanese companies have reacted to fansubs of anime or scans of manga is when episodes/chapters are leaked before they’re supposed to come out. For example, like relentlessflame said, there was that whole thing several years ago about Anime Suku removing all torrent links for Media Factory titles because an episode of Akane Maniax being leaked before it even came out on TV, or something like that.

    However, these crackdowns are rare and targeted towards specific sites (AnimeSuki for Media Factory, MangaHelpers for Kodansha), and overall it seems that the Japanese aren’t really bothered by fansubs and scans so long as the content in question isn’t leaked before their official air/release date. They seem less protective of their IPs than Western authors and publishers. Take the issue of fanworks. Doujinshi and other fan works are sold freely and at least tolerated in Japan, whereas publishing fanworks based on a work of fiction by an American author will likely get you a C&D order here in the States (recall several authors, including Ann Rice, sending C&D orders to fanfiction.net a few years back).

    So, in response to Tim, the Japanese authors & publishers don’t seem to really care much about copyright violations. It’s when their properties get leaked that gets them riled up and start taking action. So, as long as people respect the street date and not leak these things early, there won’t be crackdowns. Manga Helpers can avoid any future crackdowns by instituting and enforcing a policy that restricts posting raws until after the chapters are officially released in Japan.

  11. AstroNerdBoy says:

    Alba — I can’t say with 100% assuredly that I have not downloaded anything early if someone made it available. The way my schedule runs, I have to download anything I want on either Wednesday or Thursday.

    That said, while I’m glad people are scanning at all (which has to be a tedious task to be sure), my point is that there should be some common sense used when uploading scans that are the copyright of another.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Is it demand from fans that has someone upload raws early or is it the ego of that person to want to make sure their raws appear online first?

  13. Anonymous says:

    Someone mentioned 0-day releases and how these can bring on the property owners’ wrath. What seems to have escaped most of you is that AstroNerdBoy is actually advocating for 0-day releases, he just doesn’t like early leaks. A responsible position would be to hold off with the raws until one week has passed and the issue has been pushed off the newsstands by the next one. That would not be good for bloggers looking to gain popularity though, so his position is understandable, albeit ironic. There would always be someone publishing early and getting the hungry crowds, so why should he voluntarily hurt his standing.

  14. AstroNerdBoy says:

    Considering I still haven’t posted this week’s chapter, a week-delay would mean nothing to me. ^_~

  15. fg7dragon says:

    Anyway, the long-awaited chapter is out on Enigma.

  16. Anonymous says:

    Maybe so, but you were still advocating for 0-day, weren’t you? That point was kind of obscured by all the talk about appeasing Kodansha, who I’m sure would be much happier with one week’s delay. I didn’t mean to single you out btw, that’s why I said bloggers in plural, most anime and manga bloggers I know prefer to get their hands on the new stuff asap. I also meant to say “a more responsible position” above.

  17. Jura says:

    I’m glad to see manga companies get more aggressive. A good kick in the cock is a good cure for a bloated ego.

  18. Xingster says:

    What i’m mad about is that they took down my AMV despite the fact that there was a disclaimer built into the physical video. I went back before i put it in and specifically added it. They’re still calling copyright on me. Now, putting upt he manga early and possibly damaging that week’s profits is one thing, but putting a fan-made AMV that only features years-old Negima a few times on youtube for no profit is something else. I’m really mad at them right now. The song’s not even theirs.

  19. AstroNerdBoy says:

    I know FUNimation won’t allow AMV’s uploaded to their forums because of copyright concerns. Personally, I think our copyright laws in the U.S. are out of control.

  20. Xingster says:

    But i didn’t even get nailed by funimation. Besides, i put in a disclaimer. I’m getting this video back. Ever since DVD came into play, copyright has gone through the roof.

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