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Zac
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Joined: 05 Jan 2002
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Location: Anime News Network Technodrome
PostPosted: Tue Feb 26, 2008 2:20 pm Reply with quote
lackofcheese wrote:

Again you use the term "theft", I wish people would stop that. The correct term is "copyright infringement", and the difference is significant. I'm not dismissing copyright, I'm just questioning it. I'll clarify my thoughts - the right to control the copying of something you created is not a straightforward, natural right; it is arguable as to whether or not it's needed, and it's obvious that the internet makes copyright highly impractical. What I'm really saying is that new business models not inherently dependent upon it are required, and copyright reform (or replacement) is as well.


You know, the more I read up on copyright law, the more I agree it needs to be changed dramatically.

But not in the way you're suggesting.

Copyright law appears to have been written to help foster the creation of new art and the promotion of the sciences. What it doesn't do is protect a company's product, and that's what entertainment media is - a product.

Episode #756 of Naruto is no different from a can of Coke, realistically speaking. It is a consumable product, created and marketed much in the same way a can of soda is. Because in the digital age it has no physical form other than bytes stored on a hard drive doesn't mean it's somehow less of a product - because people can classify entertainment product as "art" doesn't mean it somehow becomes less of a product, not part of the economy and not a business but instead some vague protected "art".

This argument isn't quite fully formed - I guess what I'm trying to say is that while copyright law protects ideas, concepts and images, an episode of Naruto is not just a collection of ideas, concepts and images - it's a product, created to be sold to a certain demographic. It is no more "art" than a candy bar. Copyright law seems to assume that there's this grand artistic community that needs protection in order to foster the creation of new works for the betterment of all but doesn't take into account the fact that entertainment is a business and these TV shows and movies are products. If we were to actually acknowledge this fact - that anime is not some grandiose "art" that deserves to be seen by as many people as possible but rather a commercial endeavor like any other business - the whole 'it's not theft if I copy it a zillion times and give it away for free to anyone who wants it!' argument loses steam. Distributing Naruto episodes online illegally should be regarded as being no different from having a magic machine that xeroxes cans of Coke and standing in front of the store handing both the Coke and the machine out to anyone who shows interest.
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lackofcheese



Joined: 24 Feb 2008
Posts: 25
PostPosted: Tue Feb 26, 2008 3:55 pm Reply with quote
Great stuff Zac!

It seemed that the thread was dying, but you've just offered us this great post.

Zac wrote:
Copyright law appears to have been written to help foster the creation of new art and the promotion of the sciences. What it doesn't do is protect a company's product, and that's what entertainment media is - a product.

I guess you mean "current" coypright law was written with that in mind, because, as you can read in "The Promise of a Post-Copyright World", copyright in its initial form was written as a censorship mechanism, which was also used as a monopoly for the Stationers.

Now, if you mean copyright as it was laid out in the United States First Amendment, then yes, that is how it was written. However, is that the purpose it currently serves? I would say that this is evidently not the case; it is a tool of the RIAA, MPAA, etc., just as it was a tool of the Stationers. It's a tool they're using to protect their profits, but sadly for them, it's not working.

Zac wrote:
Distributing Naruto episodes online illegally should be regarded as being no different from having a magic machine that xeroxes cans of Coke and standing in front of the store handing both the Coke and the machine out to anyone who shows interest.


Now, this seems like an absolutely brilliant analogy to talk about, and I think I can use it to make something very convincing. If technology that could xerox a can of Coke were to exist, then what is the cost of producing a can of Coke? Zero. Would this also mean that Coke is worthless? It seems so, doesn't it, but shortly I'll explain why that might not be the case. At this stage this seems like a horrible analogy to anime, since anime is actually very costly to produce.

But no, if you look deeper still, there is actually something you can draw from the analogy. Either something that can be copied indefinetely is valueless (infinite supply => zero price), as one could argue easily from an economic perspective, or there is something else to the product that has some kind of inherent value.

However, any value in such a product clearly cannot lie inthe physical form of the product, and that is why it is essential that any digital product must be seen as having value of a different kind. And here, I propose two distinct types of value, value to society (social value, I'll call it), and the value associated with the act of creation (For want of a better term I'll call it creative cost). Consequently, whether it is art or not is irrelevant - in its mere nature it cannot have value in the same way as a hard product, but only in an intangible sense.

The very idea of trying to attach a value to the product itself in the case of something that can be infinitely reproduced is clearly unsound.

Now I'll apply what I've just fleshed out to your Coke analogy, arguing that even if Coke costs nothing to reproduce (and hence produce, because the two things are equivalent in this case (but not for anime), it is not worthless. Firstly, Coke has social value - it is capable of providing enjoyment to society, or at least that's what Coke advertises Very Happy . Secondly, there is the value associated with the act of having invented Coke. Without its creation, it could not be infinitely reproduced. In the case of Coke, the law attempts (or attempted) to recognise this value by giving Coca-Cola a patent for their product.

As for anime, it has those same two types of inherent value. There is the social value, and the creative cost. One can agree to this without accepting anime as "art" at all; social value is benefit to society of any kind, it need not be artistic, so anime still possesses that; and the fact that an anime costs money to create is undeniable, so it certainly possesses creative cost.


So, with this in mind, I'll return this to the issue of creative cost. It is clear that not everyone who produces something that is a digital (or digitizable) product can offer it for free. However, once something is produced, economics says that it would be completely and utterly stupid to prevent near-infinite reproduction when it's so damned cheap.

Hence comes the issue, and it is the same one that has hung over this thread for a while - how do you foster the creation of things that have no tangible value, but have a significant creation cost? Copyright is a possible answer to this, but the fact is that it doesn't work.

As far as I can see, there is no simple way to sort out such a question from a legislative perspective without significant violation of civil liberties. Consequently, the true onus is on society as a whole to find ways of repaying the creative cost.

In the case of businesses, their role in this affair is that they want to make profit from the social value of such a thing.



Possible ways of achieving this do in fact exist, so I'll name a few, though I'm not going to put any specific one forward in this case, but merely argue that further development in this area is crucial:-
- Micropatronage - Rely upon voluntary donations
- The Threshold Pledge system - "ransom" the fanbase until enough money is collected
- The model used by Open Source Software vendors - the sale of services that come with the product, rather than the product itself.

There's plenty of already-suggested solutions, and yet more waiting to be discovered.

I'll return to the Coke-xeroxing machine to summarize - the presence of such a Coke-xeroxing machine could be seen as nothing other than a huge bonus to society. Let me now change that Coke-xeroxing machine to a food-xeroxing machine (I admit I'm twisting your argument to get something more convincing out of it, and I apologize). Again, that would be nothing other than an ENORMOUS benefit to society - it would alleviate world hunger in one fell swoop. The Internet should be seen in the exact same way.

EDIT2: I'm kinda hoping this post does well, because when I look at the time now, I basically saw your post come up as soon as you posted it, and now that I'm finished it's over 90 minutes later =S


Last edited by lackofcheese on Wed Feb 27, 2008 7:41 am; edited 4 times in total
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loka



Joined: 05 Nov 2006
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Location: Pittsburgh, PA
PostPosted: Tue Feb 26, 2008 4:16 pm Reply with quote
OneHotAlchemist wrote:

What is there to reconcile? Fansubbing is stealing. Its hurting anime sales. The anime industry is hurting. All facts. Yet people keep on fansubbing, why? Apparently they don't care for the anime they fansub. What sickens me the most is that people don't actually take a stand against it. It'll be the death of anime. Its outlived its usefullness more or less. When a show like Haruhi can barely turn a profit, something is most definitely wrong.

This whole "zomg everyone be happy and work together" thing is bull. The fact of the matter is, if fansubbers really cared for the media they subtitle, they would pool the resources necessary and LEGALLY purchase a license. Taking sales away from a legal license holder is, no two ways about it, stealing.

Furthermore, since when has a fansub been considered something original. I'm sure an artist in an artist alley would enjoy it greatly if I started handing out photocopies of their work to every passerby for free, and subsequently nobody even wanted to get to their table.

What I'm curious about, is why the US companies haven't started a mass information campaign. Start having panels at the major anime cons showing just how much fansubs hurt the industry. Even people in this thread are woefully informed about the facts. We'd see how many people think its harmless when their favorite dub voice actors are out of work.

Its not my attitude that's causing the problem. Its the complacent attitude of those like yourself. This whole "oh, lets find a solution that works." There is a solution that works, make downloading anime socially unacceptable.

Actually, I'm curious. How would fansubbers feel if someone started taking their releases, and pasting a different name over theirs? They'd be perfectly ok with people just taking all their "work" and putting their name on it right?


If you honestly believe the people who watch fansubs give two sh*ts about popular dub voice actors, you (and everyone like you) are much more confused than we previously thought.

In my opinion, the R1 industry comanies have become too fat with middlemen. Get rid of all the useless management positions and staff. Streamline your company to emulate a fansub group while releasing subbed anime for less than 40 fscking dollars per 2 episodes and you might see a profit.

Do you believe that anyone not having seen true tears is going to pay $20 an episode to watch it. And if this is the Japanese companies' fault, then why does your business even exist in the first place if it offers something the Japanese can do themselves with set a translators.
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Psycho 101
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 26, 2008 4:39 pm Reply with quote
loka wrote:


If you honestly believe the people who watch fansubs give two sh*ts about popular dub voice actors, you (and everyone like you) are much more confused than we previously thought.

In my opinion, the R1 industry comanies have become too fat with middlemen. Get rid of all the useless management positions and staff. Streamline your company to emulate a fansub group while releasing subbed anime for less than 40 fscking dollars per 2 episodes and you might see a profit.

Do you believe that anyone not having seen true tears is going to pay $20 an episode to watch it. And if this is the Japanese companies' fault, then why does your business even exist in the first place if it offers something the Japanese can do themselves with set a translators.


You seem to be associating the prices of BV with the rest of the R1 market and that is a simply not true. BV is the only company that charges the traditional Japanese price for an R1 release, and they cater to a specific type of fan anyway.
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Cephus



Joined: 19 Dec 2005
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Location: Redlands, CA
PostPosted: Tue Feb 26, 2008 5:19 pm Reply with quote
Psycho 101 wrote:
You don't just have blinders on, you simply are blind. You answered your own question to me. How can fansubbers being stealing from the shows before they even exist? For starters regardless of it being available in an R1 format it's still stealing. Before or after it gets dubbed in English it is still the illegal reproduction of someone else's material. You seem to think that point doesn't matter until it's dubbed in English. Two, by fansubbing every damn series before it ever reaches the shores internationally you're cutting a huge chunk of profit right out from underneath of them because when it does come here people have already seen it so why buy/rent it?


I didn't say shows, I said R1 licensees. You can't keep moving the goalposts around to keep from answering the simple question.

Either explain how fansubbers are "stealing" from R1 licensees before a show is even licensed or stop whining about it. Geez.
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Psycho 101
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 26, 2008 5:25 pm Reply with quote
I already did explain it in my previous posts, two different times no less. If you can't take your blinders off for 5 seconds to see that then that's your problem and not mine. I'm not going to waste my time repeating myself yet again.

Last edited by Psycho 101 on Tue Feb 26, 2008 5:26 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Cephus



Joined: 19 Dec 2005
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 26, 2008 5:25 pm Reply with quote
Psycho 101 wrote:
You seem to be associating the prices of BV with the rest of the R1 market and that is a simply not true. BV is the only company that charges the traditional Japanese price for an R1 release, and they cater to a specific type of fan anyway.


Yet they still sit around and bitch that nobody is buying their products and blame it on fansubbing. No, blame it on the fact that nobody in their right mind is going to buy a cardboard box and 2 episodes of a series for $40.

Psycho 101 wrote:
I already did explain it in my previous posts, two different times no less. If you can't take your blinders off for 5 seconds to see that then that's your problem and not mine, and I'm not going to keep repeating myself and waste my time.


Dodge noted.

[Edit: Here I am, once again cleaning up your double-posts. I suggest you avoid making accusations and such in the future as well. - Keonyn]
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Psycho 101
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 26, 2008 5:28 pm Reply with quote
Cephus wrote:
Psycho 101 wrote:
I already did explain it in my previous posts, two different times no less. If you can't take your blinders off for 5 seconds to see that then that's your problem and not mine, and I'm not going to keep repeating myself and waste my time.


Dodge noted.


How is it a dodge when the question has already been answered twice but you're too blind to see it? Trying putting on your bi-focals and reading more carefully. So think what you want I'm done responding to you unless you got something new to say.
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lackofcheese



Joined: 24 Feb 2008
Posts: 25
PostPosted: Tue Feb 26, 2008 6:37 pm Reply with quote
Cephus wrote:
Either explain how fansubbers are "stealing" from R1 licensees before a show is even licensed or stop whining about it. Geez.


I'll answer this, though I highly recommend reading Karl Fogel's "The Promise of A Post-Copyright World" http://www.questioncopyright.org/promise
before seriously discussing an issue like this.

Fansubbers are not stealing from anyone, because stealing is not the correct term for what they're doing - it's copyright infringement. As for whose copyright they're infringing, it's that of the original maker of the anime, and no-one else. What they are doing is not a crime against the R1 industry in any legal sense at all, however. Copyright infringement, in the legal sense, is an infringement against the holder of the copyright, and only the holder of the copyright. (Please correct me if I'm wrong; I don't even study law and this is not a simple area of law either).

That's the legal standpoint covered.


Now to look at it practically and morally.

The actual effect of fansubs on the R1 industry is, indeed, a gross reduction in profit. What they do isn't a crime against the R1 industry, but it's certainly harmful to it.

Consequently, the fansub downloader should certainly feel somewhat guilty about what they bring upon the R1 industry. However, a far more important moral concern for the fansub downloader is that they consider the original creator of the anime first and foremost; the companies that produce it second. It is the original creator of the anime that initially holds copyright, and there is a damned good reason for it. Such copyrights are often bought up by large companies, but since these companies are essential to the production of the anime at the moment, that is not so relevant.


Also, Zac, I've posted our previous two-post exchange on http://www.questioncopyright.org/promise#comment-3074, because I thought my post had some real value in the copyright debate, and your post was crucial to the understanding of mine.


Last edited by lackofcheese on Thu Feb 28, 2008 6:25 am; edited 4 times in total
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Xanas



Joined: 27 Aug 2007
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 26, 2008 7:43 pm Reply with quote
Quote:

You know, the more I read up on copyright law, the more I agree it needs to be changed dramatically.

But not in the way you're suggesting.

How do you plan to change it in the way you would like that would not infringe on civil liberties? If a coke-duplicating machine existed, it would be the same. I think we all agree on that. But if such a thing existed I would never agree to make such a machine illegal solely for Coca Cola's benefit. Society as a whole is more important than any one company or individual. We need to figure out a way to appropriately compensate people, but what is appropriate should rightfully depend on the costs of reproduction.

Maximizing distribution maximizes benefit. If more people could enjoy Coke that would be a great thing. I also happen to think the same is true of media. If I didn't think so, I'd spend my time doing something other than watching anime, and I'd spend my money on something else.
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lackofcheese



Joined: 24 Feb 2008
Posts: 25
PostPosted: Tue Feb 26, 2008 8:23 pm Reply with quote
Xanas wrote:
We need to figure out a way to appropriately compensate people, but what is appropriate should rightfully depend on the costs of reproduction.

I think you meant cost of production, or, better still, creative cost (if you use my term, which I admit is arbitary).

If that is indeed what you meant, then yeah, I agree. A system is required to remunerate people for digitizable creations, and since I think attempting to do so using law is not a distinct possibility; the reform needs to, at heart, be a social one. Consequently, I approve of any legal move to stimulate the development of social remuneration schemes, and one of the best moves for that would be copyright abolishment. I'm not saying that copyright abolishment is necessary, merely that the goal should be the same - social remuneration schemes.
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Zac
ANN Executive Editor


Joined: 05 Jan 2002
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 26, 2008 8:42 pm Reply with quote
Xanas wrote:

How do you plan to change it in the way you would like that would not infringe on civil liberties? If a coke-duplicating machine existed, it would be the same. I think we all agree on that. But if such a thing existed I would never agree to make such a machine illegal solely for Coca Cola's benefit. Society as a whole is more important than any one company or individual.


Yes, and the hundreds of thousands of people worldwide who work for the Coca-Cola Corporation would lose thier jobs. A big chunk of the consumer economy would just go away. None of your arguments take any of this into account. Coca Cola isn't just one rich fat cat in a nice suit making evil blood dollars from his sale of soda, it's hundreds of thousands of people - likely millions if you count all of the people who work in bottling plants and in stores and carts selling coca-cola - working for a corporation.

Your definition of "society" does not include the lives and well-being of any of the people working for these corporations you seek to burn to the ground with your magic xerox machine.

Ultimately your argument is anti-capitalist, radical, and extremely dangerous to the health and well-being of this "society" you so wish to help by destroying the entire infrastructure of our economy. Making consumer products available for free to anyone who wants them would completely tear our economy apart.

Go ahead and defend yourself with the usual "Well then they'd have to come up with some way to make money! I don't know how, I have no solutions to that, but I'll argue in favor of this horrible concept that everything i want should be made available for free to me for the good of society anyway!"
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Unearthly



Joined: 22 Nov 2007
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 26, 2008 10:10 pm Reply with quote
Zac wrote:
Yes, and the hundreds of thousands of people worldwide who work for the Coca-Cola Corporation would lose thier jobs. A big chunk of the consumer economy would just go away. None of your arguments take any of this into account. Coca Cola isn't just one rich fat cat in a nice suit making evil blood dollars from his sale of soda, it's hundreds of thousands of people - likely millions if you count all of the people who work in bottling plants and in stores and carts selling coca-cola - working for a corporation.

Your definition of "society" does not include the lives and well-being of any of the people working for these corporations you seek to burn to the ground with your magic xerox machine.

Ultimately your argument is anti-capitalist, radical, and extremely dangerous to the health and well-being of this "society" you so wish to help by destroying the entire infrastructure of our economy. Making consumer products available for free to anyone who wants them would completely tear our economy apart.

Go ahead and defend yourself with the usual "Well then they'd have to come up with some way to make money! I don't know how, I have no solutions to that, but I'll argue in favor of this horrible concept that everything i want should be made available for free to me for the good of society anyway!"


One can certainly see how this would be terrible for a society. However, just as crimes exist, people will do it regardless of whether it is good for society or not. This is why we have laws and more importantly, the enforcement of those laws to keep enough of society in order.

What do we do when we can't enforce the laws well enough to deter those would commit these acts that deter society?
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Xanas



Joined: 27 Aug 2007
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 26, 2008 10:20 pm Reply with quote
Zac, everything you said here could easily be applied to every single piece of modern technology. It used to require more laborers to work in the fields, to plant crops, to manufacture goods, etc. Are you honestly telling me you believe that technological advancement is bad because it eliminates jobs? That seems to be what you are saying.

I don't need to be able to tell you specifically what jobs could be taken if we were to have this "magical" equipment that we are talking about. All I have to do is point to history as a reference, people are constantly being displaced due to technological and productivity enhancements yet we are able to find more work for them.

You sound almost Amish giving an argument like this. Certainly, I'll grant that if we subtract progress in technology from the equation we'd see less change and disruption for people, but do you truly think this is for the better? I guess I'm from the school that thinks over time humans could find "better" work, pursuits that are a bit more lofty than basic redundant work or production.

I believe copyright as it exists now is outdated, unenforceable, and the problems with it aren't solvable without destroying civil liberties. I noticed that while railing away at me for not being able to define how people's lives can continue without jobs, you failed to answer my question on how you expect to enforce your new and empowered copyright without destroying freedom and privacy.

Anyway, as to your question I again only point to history. Jobs will be destroyed, but new ones are always created. I have no doubt this would happen if some magical Coke-creating device were to come into being. If you have doubts I think you are the one who needs to provide evidence for why you think society is better off halting advancement, as to me history indicates otherwise.

lackofcheese wrote:
Xanas wrote:
We need to figure out a way to appropriately compensate people, but what is appropriate should rightfully depend on the costs of reproduction.

I think you meant cost of production, or, better still, creative cost (if you use my term, which I admit is arbitary).

Well, I meant reproduction in this context, though I agree with you on creative costs as well. What I meant was that both need to be accounted for. If something has a zero cost of reproduction, it's unfair to expect it to be treated exactly the same as a physical product which has a reproduction cost in addition to it's creative cost.

On the one hand, it's unfair for people to shun anime and buy nothing when they enjoy it. On the other hand, it is unreasonable to expect people to "do without" when they don't have to. Instead we need to find some middle ground that maximizes overall benefit (which can't happen if the companies making anime/media don't benefit too of course).


Last edited by Xanas on Tue Feb 26, 2008 10:53 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Vulcannis



Joined: 21 Jan 2008
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 26, 2008 10:38 pm Reply with quote
Ah, I'm happy that the discussion has swung towards copyright, as I feel this is the real reason these "debates" go nowhere. BTW lackofcheese, your proposal is pretty close to what I put forth a bit earlier in the thread, so you've got my agreement.

I'm a software developer. I produce copyrighted works daily. It pays my mortgage. And from what I understand about ANN, it seems like a fairly typical industry-news oriented site built on a traditional publisher model--or at least Zac seems to come off as a fairly typical industry journalist. On top of that, the industry being covered is also built on the traditional publisher model. So I'm not surprised that Zac and the other ANN staff I've seen in this thread see fansubs in a negative light. People who produce, watch and argue in favour of fansubs or similar are directly attacking the very foundation of their industry.

But you know what? As a software developer, I can also see that the anime industry's business model is not only untenable, but unneccessary. Software was the first industry to have to deal with the implications of zero-cost duplication, and has proven that it can be. There are still companies writing software and making money off it. There's the whole Free Software and Open Source movement. The argument about getting stuff for free invalidating everything is just silly. The music industry is starting to learn how to deal with it now too. I don't see why the anime industry can't as well.

As a consumer who likes anime, it would sadden me if my supply was reduced. A lot of the money I derive from copyright I turn around and spend on anime, manga, games, models and figures, all things produced primarily under the current copyright system. But you know what? I'm not willing to give up everything that the internet and zero-cost duplication has given me, even if it means the death of anime altogether (and obviously I believe that's hogwash.) The benefits to society are worth any loss created by business having to change models or the loss of unsustainable industries.

And the same thing applies if a Coca-Cola duplicating machine was suddenly invented--the world is a better place, despite the likely death of one company. It's not like such a situation would be special, beyond the suddenness of it happening it's a normal thing for processes to become more efficient and businesses to have to change. We've not decided to stop the clock and progress anytime before, why would we do it now?

Quite frankly consumers don't owe publishers or even the creators anything. Creation of a work does not bring about some kind of magical entitlement. And once you release the genie by attempting to profit off of your creation via the public, I don't think you have any say with what the public does with your creation. I truly hope you can make a profit, make a living, off of whatever you produce, whether it enriches society or not. I don't see any need for copyright in this day and age.

Or at least, that's my ideal. I realize that copyright isn't going anywhere, anytime soon. But I don't think it has to for the anime industry to survive. Fansubs are an indicator of what the market wants. I think it's possible for the industry to meet those demands even with current laws.

Zac wrote:
Ultimately your argument is anti-capitalist, radical, and extremely dangerous to the health and well-being of this "society" you so wish to help by destroying the entire infrastructure of our economy. Making consumer products available for free to anyone who wants them would completely tear our economy apart.

I have to laugh at calling the anti-copyright position anti-capitalist. Radical, sure. Dangerous? As opposed to... doing nothing while the industry dies anyway? Okay, your call. But anti-capitalist? By it's very definition, copyright creates an artificial monopoly. Monopolies are as anti-capitalist as you can get. For crying out loud, a technological innovation has led to a shift in demand in the market--and you have the gall to call for intellectual protectionism while labeling opposition to that as anti-capitalist? Yikes. And I thought the thief label was ignorant.
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