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Hey, Answerman! - The Subtitle Will Not Be Televised

by Brian Hanson,

Oh, hello! I didn't see you there!

Actually I can't see you at all. That was a lie. Welcome to Hey, Answerman! I've managed to tear myself away, temporarily though it may be, from preparing for my big cross-country move next week, as well as my detached enthusiasm for the Academy Awards this weekend. I realize that, from a pure productivity analysis, it's probably not a wise usage of my dwindling packing and preparing time to waste three hours to watch a bunch of French people win Oscars for a film I didn't like all that much, but... at a certain point, it's hard not to fall in line with the rest of us hardcore film dorks and enumerate yourself with the big messy spectacle of it all. Also, if The Artist wins either Best Cinematography or Best Original Screenplay I'm going to throw my entire dresser out the window. I suppose that's incentive to get that packed up before Sunday, then. Good.

To the questions!

I was just reading the article on ANN about how Funimation is asking fans to petition to keep the Funi channel on Fios and it started to get me to think. It made me wonder, why do I not watch the Funi channel at all? It's actually a similar reason to why I did not watch a lot of anime shows on Cartoon Network. The answer is pretty simple: I prefer to watch my anime subtitled with Japanese audio. So it made me think, why does the Funi channel only show dubbed episodes? My guess would be that their desire is to target a broader range of an audience and try to pull in newer anime fans. But what about the rest of us that are already anime fans and prefer Japanese audio? It's not like Funimation only sells dubbed only media. Call me a crazy but I wonder if more people would watch the Funi channel if they had some shows in its original audio. I always hear about people that watch anime on Crunchyroll or Netflix and it just always puzzles me why someone cannot translate that over to television. Do you think anime fans would be more interested in watching Japanese audio anime on TV?

Oh, I absolutely agree that "anime fans" would be more interested in watching Funimation's TV network if it aired subtitled programming. That's pretty much a guarantee. Interested, sure. Would they actually tune in and watch? Ay, there's the rub.

I'm going to go ahead and say that... no, they won't. And they won't for the simple reason that anime fans also don't tend to buy DVDs and Blu Rays anymore. The hardest of the hardcore of anime watchers in the English world have been watching anime on their computers for an entire decade now. It took streaming services a good long while to catch up to fansubs, so call me crazy for assuming that most anime fans would NOT be terribly inclined to switch from instant, streaming video to go back to watching anime on their TVs. Even for me, it's weird to think that I'm going to have to dig out the rabbit ears and plug them into the TV to watch the Oscars this Sunday, when I'm so used to watching TV shows on Hulu or watching live events on Ustream. I've sort of forgotten what it's even like.

Now, I'm not against Funimation's TV channel - not at all, I think it's great that there's still an actual, honest to God TV station that's devoted to just anime. And for Funimation it makes total sense to have that network running, even if viewership is pretty small; they've got tons of content to keep the channel in pretty heavy rotation, and it helps "leverage the brand" so to speak for a lot of their less-exalted titles. It's a nice way to promote and advertise titles for Funimation's bread-and-butter home video business, essentially. Unfortunately, it's not at all cheap to keep a TV network running, and I can't imagine such a thing pays for itself. And if the channel gets kicked off of FiOS, that's a pretty heavy blow to the numbers of households the Funimation Channel is available.

But at the same time, asking for fan support to keep the network on the air is pretty much the only option they've got, even if those same fans are rather unlikely to watch it. Because the reality is, no matter what, people are rather averse to subtitles; if there's one thing that'll make viewership sink like a stone, it's showing something that requires subtitles. Look at Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: The movie made a fortune as a subtitled film in theaters, but whenever the movie is shown on HBO or whatever, they almost always play the English-dubbed version. Again, this is puts Funimation in sort of a damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don't situation. They can't please the hardcore fans by airing a significant amount of subtitled anime, because if they do, whatever casual TV audience they hope to reach will instantly tune out.

Still, though, that is absolutely no reason to let the Funimation Channel get kicked off of FiOS. I urge everybody who is on Verizon to click on this link here and do whatever they can to keep the Funimation Channel up and running. Even if it isn't your preferred anime-delivery system, the simple fact is that there's an entire TV channel that shows anime! Isn't that cool?!? There is no reason to simply let it die on the vine, whatever the reason. So get on the horn and yell from the heavens to keep the network on FiOS, because what's good for the goose is good for the gander. The "goose" being Funimation and the "gander" being you, the fans. Or, maybe the other way around. These old-timey phrases can get confusing sometimes.

Hi Answerman,

I have bought used manga from eBay and Amazon before. I realized that when I do this, none of that money goes to the companies or artists that produce it. I know video game companies make a big deal about this as well as stores that make money buying and selling used games. This essentially is one person buying a copy of a manga and sharing it with x number of other people. Does the manga industry make a big deal about this, and why or why not?

Manga companies don't tend to make a big deal about used manga sales, no. Of course they would absolutely be against buying a used copy if there's ALSO a new copy ready for purchase, for obvious reasons. However, the comparison vis a vis the video game industry doesn't work.

And it doesn't work because of one thing: Gamestop.

See, Gamestop has made an entire industry out of selling used games; one that is worth hundreds of millions of dollars. And of those hundreds of millions of dollars, none of them are going to the publishers, the developers, or anyone even tangentially related to the actual creation of the game. And the other big problem is that these used games aren't even out of print; games like Skyrim and Battlefield 3 are still available, but of course Gamestop has a full stock of used copies right next to the new copies that sell for, typically, a couple bucks cheaper. Gamestop hedges their bets that their customers zero in on the price difference, and won't factor in the idea that maybe, somehow, the original developers of this video game they want are entitled to a percentage of their money. And more often than not, they're right. That is a huge problem, and as Gamestop's profits soar, video game publishers are trying a lot of different tactics to offset that - with things like DLC, DRM, and ten dollar "online passes" to activate multiplayer content. They haven't really been successful in that endeavor, sad to say - gamers today feel like they're being fleeced and punished, and all the while Gamestop keeps selling used copies of every game under the sun, especially for high-profile new releases. There is no Gamestop in the anime and manga world. I mean, sure, there are obviously locally-run used bookshops, eBay, Amazon Marketplace, and lots of other things that are more than willing to sell used books and DVDs, but there isn't one monolithic entity that siphons profits away from manga and anime publishers.

The other difference is pretty simple: the price. Manga volumes usually don't vary all that much from 10 to 20 dollars; video games cost 60. For some reason, most customers don't flinch when they're asked to pay 10 bucks instead of 6 or 7. And I don't think it's anything as magnanimous as wanting to "reward the original artists" or anything like that: what person wouldn't want to spend a couple bucks more for a new book that's in great shape, as opposed to a cheaper one that's been worn and damaged? The new books simply look nicer is all. Meanwhile, there's a pretty good chance that the used case and disc for Skyrim is going to look pretty similar to the new case, considering that the game has only been available for a few months. Plus, Gamestop does that rather devious thing where they take the shrink wrap off the "new" copies and pluck the disc out; from a purely visual perspective, there's often no discernible difference between the "new" copy and the used one, so most people just grab the one that's cheaper.

Again, Gamestop is basically universally screwing over the video game industry while raking millions of dollars from undeterred customers. Meanwhile, used bookshops have been around for ages, since the dawn of the modern publishing industry. And as bookstores around the globe go out of business as e-books become de rigeur, it's tough to make the claim that these insidious parasites of the profits of the manga industry are laughing all the way to the bank. Perception, you see, is kind of the key to a lot of this animosity.

Still, though, just in case anybody thinks I'm being an apologist for used manga and anime sales, I'm not. Always buy things new if you can. Always support our industry when you have the chance. Ah, and there's the other big difference: As I'm sure many of you readers can frustratingly attest, manga and anime titles go out of print a lot. Print runs aren't very high, and chances are if you don't buy something in the first year or so that it's available, and it's not an "evergreen" title, the probability is pretty high that you won't be able to find it new anywhere. Provided, of course, that it doesn't get a nice re-release, but it's tough, especially these days, to hold out hope for re-releases and "license rescues" and things of that nature. Video games, meanwhile, have a much higher print run (unless it's an Atlus release - thank GOD they're finally reprinting Radiant Historia soon, I've been wanting to grab a copy of that game without paying 100 dollars for months now), and of course stores that sell video games are rather ubiquitous. There's a Gamestop in every strip mall in America, not to mention you can grab them at your local Wal-Mart, Target, and so forth.

I'd say that, unequivocally, manga and anime companies don't have any sort of fondness for used sales at all. But, I'd say they're bigger concern, realistically, is finding a way for people to buy these physical copies in the first place. It sucks if you buy it used, but more often than not, people don't really buy them at all.

So, in that sense, kudos to you for buying a physical product in the first place! Unless it was available new and you simply bought a used copy because it was cheaper. Then shame on you.

Hey Answerman,

I live in a South East Asian country where pirated movies and albums can be bought at Super Markets. So, I basically grew up watching pirated Dragon Ball & Pokemon episodes and then became a fan of several Manga and Anime series with the help of Internet.

But I always plan to support the series and creators that I love ever since I'd finished school and got a job. But the main problem is that except the local products by local artists, all the video games, movies and music albums in my country are pirated products. At least I can find some official Manga volumes at some book stores though. I was planning on subscribing for SJ Alpha but I just found out recently that our regions won't be supported.

After visiting Anime Festival Asia 2011 in Singapore, I came across several online licensed figure shops where the import prices aren't very high. So, I ended up purchasing a lot of PVC figures and figmas, mostly from GSC, Alter, Banpresto, SEGA & Kotobukiya along with anime T-Shirts from COSPA. But I would llike to know how that can effect the Anime publishers or the creators. Does the creator of the series get some loyalties and stuff every time his/her characters are licensed for figures, shirts and accessories? Or do licensing like these work differently from products like books and DVDs?

I've said this before, but it bears repeating: I know it sucks if you aren't an anime fan living in North America. Officially licensed books and DVDs aren't available in your local shops, and streaming services and online manga publishers block your IP address. BUT! You can still import things legitimately. That is still an option. Not at all the most convenient option, I understand. But it is, without a doubt, the correct option.

I know this might be "off topic" or whatever, but there was this webcomic here that made the blog rounds last week, and it absolutely incensed me. And fortunately, I wasn't the only one. Either way, look, I *understand* that it's frustrating to see us spoiled Americans getting everything we want, it seems like, while you're hung out to dry with nothing simply because you're living in another country. And the beauty of the internet is that it is a truly global network, one without borders or dividing lines. But, at no point are you ever "entitled" to pirate something. Look, if all you wanna do is pirate something because it's easier, and then you don't talk about it, that's fine. But to try to rationalize it in any way is purely asinine, and you won't garner a lick of sympathy from me, from the original artists, or anyone else other than... other pirates, really.

So! Your actual question! Yes, licensed figures and toys are actually a great way to support the shows and properties you like. Character goods like figures and toys and things are a huge market in Japan; in fact, it's practically impossible for an anime show to make it on the air unless they've got a sweet lineup of PVC figures or hug-pillows to go along with it. Considering that, so long as the importers are on the up and up, go nuts! Buy all the figures and things that you can! It's not exactly cut-and-dry that your purchase of a figure directly puts money in the wallet of the original artists, but at least you're supporting the other licensees and toymakers that themselves supported the original artist, believing that there was a market big enough for their characters and creations to create a line of merchandise. The actual way that the money is split insofar as merchandise and other "ancillary" products are difficult to parse out, and not to mention are kept very secret, but there is a line, confusing though it may be, that eventually finds its way back to the original creators.

To cap this off, I'm going to bring up a point I've made before, in the hope that some of it eventually sinks in: You absolutely should "support" the artists and creators, but however you do that is up to you. You don't like buying DVDs? Fine, buy an officially-licensed T-shirt, or a figure, or whatever merchandise you can. Nobody's asking you to bankrupt yourself so Masashi Kishimoto can buy a new pair of expensive shoes. All that's really being asked of you, as a fan, is to buy something, legitimately, if it is something you actually want. You don't live in North America? IMPORT THINGS. Support the artists you like, and support the companies that support those artists, and we can all go home and sleep soundly at night.

I think that segues nicely to this week's Answerfans, if I might say so. And this is my column, so I can.

The script has been flipped, and now it's time to answer-er to become the question-er! Last week, in the midst of the Shonen Jump Alpha / Mangastream nonsense, I wanted to get to the heart of the matter, starting with YOU nice folks:

Let's begin with Geoff, who has no patience for this guff and baloney:

They certainly provide a service. But not one which is in any way right. For that matter the majority of users of such sites are often US based, so the question is a little moot. I think years ago there was a compromise that worked to a certain extent, that of removing a scanlation when it was licensed. Still wrong of course, but did get the best of both worlds so to say. However such honesty within the ‘community’ went out of fashion over like 5 years ago now. Mangastream etc. you never see proactively doing anything such as removing manga, they are in it for the money and kudos and certainly not any real love of actual manga/anime. The only time they do anything at all is when a little heat is directed at them, such as recently with Viz. And even then they act to their community self-righteously, how dare these uptight greedy publishers come down from their mountain and attack us who provide a ‘community service’.

It is certainly a weird situation our little community has got itself into. The only argument that holds any weight are those that only read digital. Too little space to store books, or simply too embarrassed to be seen with manga in their room. But there are options, increasingly many manga are slowly going digital, the problem is of course the method of obtaining these digital books is often convoluted, poorly advertised and spread too thinly over different platforms and methods of delivery. I would certainly love to see the rightstuf.com of digital manga. Certainly the only method to read digitally at the moment takes a lot of patience and searching to discover what is out there. Should you go off and read on an illegal scanlation site because of that? I would say no, but I can't stop you. And here the regional argument certainly makes sense, most digital stuff is only available to US. However to me the argument holds no water, with only a bit of training/knowledge one can find out how to use a proxy server or in some cases modify their DNS. There are even programs which automatically do this for you, but investigate them carefully first, there are plenty of dodgy ones. This is in no way illegal, at worst you are violating the terms of service of whoever you are reading with. But again there is nothing illegal about that, and its infinitely better than using a scanlator.

For physical books, there is no excuse to be using a scanlator at all. Here the region argument holds no water at all. 5 years ago it may have. However today there is an utter prevalence of alternative payment methods, prepaid credit cards, bank transfers, paypal etc, that it is not too much hassle to find a payment method which works for you. And importing is easier and cheaper than ever, you don't even have to do it from the US, large groups such as bookdepository.co.uk ship FREE WORLDWIDE (even ordering a single manga, and they release US versions at or around the same date) and doesn't cost that much more than buying from a shop in the US, particularly if you preorder the books. Anime is a bit more difficult, but there are still options. I liked Brian's comment of ‘spoiled’, that is exactly what users of scanlators are. However I do not see that as an excuse to be lazy and be completely inconsiderate and destructive of the industry which you ‘love’.

Kayla brings up an interesting point that I've often thought about, regarding scanlation sites perhaps blocking content in areas of the world where content is available "legitimately":

Hey Answerman,

I'm in love with this week's question, because it's something that I myself have often thought and debated about with fellow anime fans. Do websites like mangastream really provide a service to those outside the U.S. or are they nothing more than a blatant middle finger to companies like Viz Media? Ultimately, it's difficult to say, but I'm going to have to side with the latter; as wonderful as it is to get free content, if it's already licensed and available for legal purchase, you're basically depriving artists and creators of money they need to live. I mean, think about it, we all need money for food, shelter, etc., and by refusing to support an artist's work monetarily, you're basically telling them that as great as their manga/anime is, it's not great enough for them to try and make a living off of. And, if an artist can't make a living writing their manga, they'll have to get another job and therefore won't have nearly as much time to devote to creating their works.

But, what about those outside of the U.S. you say? What about them? After all, if Viz Media hasn't licensed a manga for their country, shouldn't they be able to access it freely? Well, that's where things get sticky. If websites made it so that only people in countries where the manga in question was not licensed could view the manga, then yes, I would support that decision. However, I've seen very few manga streaming websites that block content based on which country you live in and whether or not the property is licensed there. So, unless that actually happens, and I don't feel like it will, I will continue to be wary of scanlations. Now, if Viz Media could find a way to release scanlations/episodes worldwide through an app for everyone to buy legally as soon as the content is released...but of course that's a long, long way off and is a dream barred by countless impossibilities and red tape, but wouldn't that be nice...

And now we have Grant, who is rather disdainful of "Laziness" in quotes:

I feel that the people of Mangastream and other scanlation aggregates are problematic on any part of the globe. On a quick note, I would say they are just problematic in North America because certain places don't get releases due to contracts, Import them. To my understanding, English is able to be read and understood in a good chunk of the world. Do I have any factual proof for that, No.

I feel they are problematic because they support "Laziness", they don't give back to the actual industry, and they have stuff that is licensed on their site. What I mean by the support "Laziness" is that they give the readers an excuse for their said "Laziness". I hear a good chunk of people say "Oh well I don't have the money to buy the actual manga so I read it online", "Well because its there" or "I am so far behind that I am catching up". The thing is that they say this but they go and buy video games, CDs, and other items that aren't necessities like food, fuel for your car, Bills etc. As for the "Well because its there" argument, well there are a bunch of worse things on the internet that are illegal. If you got caught looking at those or downloading those, that argument is not gonna do you that much good in there, so why should it work on this subject. The "I am so far behind that I am catching up" argument fits in the "Oh well I don't have the money to buy the actual manga so I read it online" section but the fans will continue to read past the released content. The Scanlation aggregates not giving back to the actual industry has been discussed enough to where I shouldn't have to beat the dead horse. The sites in question having stuff on their sites that are licensed (Like Bleach, Naruto, One Piece etc.) cause the companies to lose money. If someone wants to read Black Butler but then finds it online for free, Yen Press (Or whatever mother company hovers over them) loses out on 10.99$ in the US (Different if you buy it online or if you are in Canada). It also takes their time to contact the sites to tell them to take down their products when the groups that have been assigned to do that could be using that time to do better things, like find the cure for AIDS (Kidding...).

Frequent contributor B.J. goes into a pretty interesting discussion of the nature of foreign entertainment itself:

While I admit that I live in North America, I'd still like to weigh in on this question, perhaps from more of a big picture perspective.

The problem really starts with the unique position of manga (and anime as well) in the field of entertainment. The majority of this niche comes from (for the sake of definition) an admittedly small portion of the world: the collection of islands known as the nation of Japan. The idea that some many people could be so obsessively fascinated by the entertainment of another country is a kind of miraculous oddity that we probably all take for granted. However, over time, and with much help from the internet and other communications technology, the people of the world have become very aware of what everyone else is reading and watching. The examples are numerous: Bollywood in India, Girl with the Dragon Tattoo from Sweden, District 9 from South Africa, Harry Potter from England, Tony Jaa movies from Thailand, Asterix and Wakfu from France. Heck, my father was into fansubbed episodes of live-action detective dramas from Sweden and Denmark for a while. Modern technology has brought everyone much closer together, faster than the various countries of the world were prepared for. They had spent centuries being somewhat insular, usually only dealing with other countries when it was necessary or advantageous (trade, war, etc.), especially Japan. While arts and entertainment have spread over time, the idea that home-grown entertainment, rife with cultural idiosyncrasies, could find an audience half-way around the world so quickly is baffling to say the least. Some countries have been able to adapt faster than others, but it's still a clunky and complicated process. Interestingly, I think language is less of a barrier than it used to be. There are plenty of translators willing to help spread this stuff as far as they are able, and others aspire to participate in some way. It's kind of a shame that this fervor can't have more legitimate opportunities. In any case, our hobby is a pretty bizarre phenomenon that fact that is has grown quite a lot in the last dozen or so years, thanks to advances in technology, is something the rest of the world is still trying to get a handle on.

So with that in mind, what about MangaStream? This makes me think of earlier times in American anime fandom, when fansubs were the lifeblood of the hobby (or so I'm told; I really didn't get into anime until Toonami (Am I even qualified to be talking about this stuff?)). Technically, they were illegal, but initially their impact was minimal at best, so no one paid it any attention. However, over time, these small clubs great to great communities, and now there are official localization companies and more money is involved, which means that the scrutiny of the process has increased, with no help from all of the recent piracy paranoia. While these companies are certainly within their rights to protect and control their intellectual properties, they seem slow or reluctant to reach out to the places that piracy so easily fills. It seems so mired by red tape and efforts to maximize profits, and the internet's general attitude of impatient entitlement doesn't help. Looking at American anime fandom, it may be easy to say that scanlations and fansubs are just a necessary evil until more legitimate channels arrive, but is it really that necessary? If there's a market for something somewhere, is it really that hard to set up shop and make business? One would think that with enough voices shouting in the right ears, things would just work itself out, but I still don't have the second half of Kodocha on my anime shelf.

In essence, I'm saying that the whole situation is like a double-edged sword being wielded by an amateur in a dense fog. Things could luckily work out or end in a horrible mess, or perhaps have some of both; it's so hard to determine and discern at this point, making any decision look like a leap into the darkness. It's easy to imagine in some futuristic vision of a day when anyone can watch anything at any time with all language options available to them, but I highly doubt that will happen in our lifetimes. So what's to be done? I guess the moral high ground would be to gratefully accept what we do get while at the same time putting up a civilized fuss that demands for more (Operation Rainfall is not a bad example), but there's not guarantee that will work, and there are fewer frustrations greater than over effort made in futility. Hope that somehow these channels will clear up and foreign entertainment can be made more accessible may be all that we have.

As we wind things down, here's a powerful bit of writing from Tashfin, who dutifully reminds us of how lucky we actually are to be living in the first world:

Big picture time, Mr Hanson, big picture time. I'll do my best to rein it in, nonetheless it'll get more than a bit wordy. However, seeing as how at least 97% of my own (entertainment/pastime) existence depends on this, it's maybe only natural. Expect a few links too.

First off; I'm not primarily an Otaku, neither in the Japanese nor Westerner sense. I'm first and foremost a metalhead, ever since I was 10 - and I'm getting ready to say farewell to my tweens now. I'm a resident of Bangladesh who spent 12 years of his life studying in neighbouring India. There are 3,500,000 English speakers here in my country, which happens to be more than the population of New Zealand, and approximately 60% of us are 25 or younger - and a hell of a lot of whom are into anime (Wikipedia is your friend). A weekly youth-targeted supplement of the largest English national newspaper regularly runs anime reviews of the latest shows, in which they regularly advise prospective purveyors to "download" (exact words) from the net. Before your eyebrows reach for the sky, please consider this: there is, and never has been, NO official retail or distribution whatsoever of music, DVDs, let alone still-niche stuff like anime and manga. And still Bryan Adams played two shows last year in Dhaka, which were quite successful. Where would you think the crowds singing along to his tunes learned the songs from? Was he condoning, or even, profiting off piracy of his own work, since his label has no official existence in Bangladesh? Does anyone for a nanosecond believe that every single consumer actually got returning tourists to carry (smuggle) original CDs and DVDs in their bags for them? My musical journey first started at a shop whose owner gets music from abroad and burns them onto CDs for the locals - remember "Illegal Taping is Killing the Music Industry"? India was better in that they had music stores in the big cities, which were even then unreasonably priced, especially to someone whose middle-class parents sacrificed both money and peace of mind to give their children the best education they could manage. Besides which, metal music has spread so far underground that even the best bands aren't readily available to buy in any physical store anywhere. iTunes was Job's brilliant smokescreen to delude the record companies and protect his iPod-buying masses and their players crammed silly with pirated stuff - it's obvious, crunch the numbers of total music sold online vs the total number of iPods sold worldwide.

Even the behemoth that is India, with the world's largest English-speaking population, has nary an official anime DVD in sight, although the launch of Animax India 5-6 years ago has been something of a miracle for our anime-starved grey cells. That, and reruns of Pokemon, Digimon, Beyblade and Transformers on Cartoon Network account for the entirety of official/legal anime viewing options for all of South Asia, probably excluding Pakistan. And while simulcasts of the latest Fullmetal Alchemist courtesy the aforementioned Animax are much appreciated, those of us with 9-to-5 jobs and umpteen family commitments find it near-nigh impossible to either keep up, or even get the minimum-quantity fix. So, officially, all my anime has to be from either Animax or Cartoon Network, and manga nonexistent. Oh, and I'll just mention in passing a certain can of worms known as "vernacular translations".

The internet has been both the source of billions of us learning of new awesomeness, and also the source for getting hold of said discovered booty, come what may. If the official channels couldn't deliver, too bad. Technology moves on regardless of who's on board or not, old things get cheaper so that we can blow cash on new stuff. The ridiculous lobbying for SOPA and shameless hypocrisy (I'm looking at Rupert Murdoch here) is akin what would have happened if the railroads and shipping lines had sued the newfangled air-planes, or the Vatican had excommunicated Gutenberg for his printed Bibles, or if the horse breeders of Victorian England had tried to legislate automobiles out of their nascent existence - oh, wait, that did actually happen. (I'd suggest reading his other articles too).

Here's the other main reason for piracy: price. If you thought $20 for 10 songs is too much, check this out: "A recent study for America's Social Science Research Council found that DVDs of “The Dark Knight”, a Warner Bros blockbuster, were selling in Russia for the equivalent of $75 (if adjusted to take account of differences in GDP per head). In India the DVD was on sale for the equivalent of $663." In Bangladesh I'd guess that'd be $1300. My monthly salary is $170. I mean, seriously, $1300 for a DVD? WTF, people? Having been an unwilling part of the British Empire for far too long, I, and lots of others here, subconsciously realize that it's not merely enough for something to be law, or part of a constitution or book of law, it has to be fair and just as well. The British Salt Tax that Gandhi marched against was perfectly legal and valid, after all. I hope you don't mind my saying so, but for as far as we're concerned, all of you in the USA (mostly) and Japan are a 1%, if not The 1%.

With the last word, here's Dan from South America, who I think provides a very nice and concise point to this whole mess:

Hey Answerman,

As an anime fan living in South America, I truly believe that sites like Mangastream offer a service that companies like Viz refuse or simply cannot make available to anyone outside North America. Mangastream et al. are problematic if you see it from a publisher's point of view since they provide a free service that many, myself included, argue is better than similar services provided by publishers. If anything, publishers should re-think their business model regarding digital distribution so that they are able to offer a service that can efficiently compete with scanlation aggregates and gain a significant number of their members as customers.

That was great! Definitely a spirited discussion, and that's what I love about this column; getting to read a number of well-written responses that spark an honest debate of sorts. So let's keep that spirit going, with next week's question, WHICH IS NOT ABOUT PIRACY! In fact, quite the opposite!

Now you've got this week's question, and it's time to get answerin'.

For those of you new to Hey, Answerfans!, I'll explain the concept.

Believe it or not, I'm genuinely curious what you think.

That's right; as much as I love the sound of my own voice, I do love to listen to what other people have to say on a subject. I'm finding that over the last few years, the attitudes, reasoning and logic that today's anime fans use eludes, confuses or astounds me; I have so many questions for you, and I'm dying to hear what you have to say in response.

Welcome to Hey, Answerfans!

Basically, we're turning the tables. Each week I'm going to ask you a question, and I want you to email me your answer. Be as honest as you can. I'm looking for good answers; not answers I agree with or approve of, but good, thoughtful answers
. People feel passionately about these subjects and I'd like to see that in the responses I get. I'll post the best answers I get, and maybe some of the crappy ones. Sometimes there may only be one or two good ones; sometimes five or more. It all depends on what I get in my inbox! Got it? Pretty simple, right? Start writing those answers and email them to answerman [at] animenewsnetwork dot com.

We do have a few simple ground rules to start with.

Things To Do:

* Be coherent.
* Be thoughtful.
* Be passionate.
* Write as much or as little as you feel you need to to get your point across in the best possible way.

Things Not To Do:

* Respond when the question doesn't apply to you. For instance, if your email response starts with "Well, I don't do whatever you're asking about in the question... " then I'm going to stop reading right there and hit delete.

* Be unnecessarily rude or use a lot of foul language.
* Go off-topic.

Thanks guys for reading all the way to the end here, and don't forget to drop me a question or an answer or two over at my inbox, answerman[at]animenewsnetwork.com! Until next week, friends and foes!

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