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Revision to Fansubber Ethical Code?


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LordRobin



Joined: 25 Feb 2003
Posts: 354
Location: Akron, OH
PostPosted: Wed May 28, 2003 11:20 am Reply with quote
You know, my recent dive back into the eternal argument of whether fansubs are helpful or hurtful got me to thinking. Maybe it's time the fansubbers' legendary "code of ethics" was revised a bit. As I understand it, the entire code currently is just:

"Do not distribute an American-licensed anime".

Maybe we could expand on that a bit. First, agree on the purpose of fansubs...

"The purpose of fansubs is twofold: to allow English-language fans access to obscure anime they would never otherwise see, and to give such fans an advance taste of anime that may someday be licensed. Fansubs are not be considered a substitute for owning a legal, English-language copy."

Then establish a few ground rules:

"1) Do not distribute an American-licensed anime. Distribution must stop the instant a license is announced. Any distribution after that point gives the licensee legal cause to pursue the fansubber."

(NOTE: I notice that Shaman King subs are still available, even though Viz announced the license. Naughty, naughty! The fact that they're high-numbered episodes isn't an excuse.)

"2) A fansubber does the community no good by duplicating another's work. Therefore, if two fansubs of an anime are already available (giving the fan a choice), the fansubber should devote his or her effort to another series."

"3) As fansubs are not meant to compete with a professional product, perfection should not be considered a goal. Therefore, small improvements in video quality or translation should not be considered justification to create another competing fansub."

"4) Fansubs are not meant to compete with a professional product, therefore the quality of the fansub should not attempt to match or better the quality of a professional DVD."

"5) At least once a year, a fansubber should justify his or her existence by subbing an obscure or older title."

So, what do you think? Yeah, I know. Most of these guys have egos way too big to even consider something like this. But it's worth talking about.

------RM
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jmays
ANN Associate Editor


Joined: 29 Jul 2002
Posts: 1390
Location: St. Louis, MO
PostPosted: Wed May 28, 2003 11:50 am Reply with quote
(How about combining rules 3 & 4?)

I think your revised ethics code is a wonderful idea, though I seriously doubt whether it would ever be followed. Agreeing to the purpose you stated would end the "race to be first" that seems to drive so many fansubbers today; I'm sure they wouldn't go for it.

Yeah, I'm pessimistic about it, but it is an admirable cause, and I do believe it's worth pursuing--even if it's futile.
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radicaledward



Joined: 02 Mar 2003
Posts: 776
PostPosted: Wed May 28, 2003 12:24 pm Reply with quote
Fansubber Ethical Code wrote:

The purpose of fansubs is twofold: to allow English-language fans access to obscure anime they would never otherwise see, and to give such fans an advance taste of anime that may someday be licensed. Fansubs are not be considered a substitute for owning a legal, English-language copy.

I agree with most of this, fansubs are no substitute for a legal copy, but I feel that the part about "an advance taste of anime that may someday be licensed" is starting to become obsolite. Because of the speed at which anime is now being licensed the most that could be finished is the first few episodes, perhaps revise this to put a limit on the number of episodes that should be translated for newer shows?

Quote:

1) Do not distribute an American-licensed anime. Distribution must stop the instant a license is announced. Any distribution after that point gives the licensee legal cause to pursue the fansubber.

Nothing wrong with this statement as long as it is followed, however because of the nature of the internet it is doubtful that episodes that have already been finished will suddenly disappear after the license is announced, however all work should stop on new episodes

Quote:

2) A fansubber does the community no good by duplicating another's work. Therefore, if two fansubs of an anime are already available (giving the fan a choice), the fansubber should devote his or her effort to another series.

No problem with this, but unfourtenitly it rarely happens this way.

Quote:

3) As fansubs are not meant to compete with a professional product, perfection should not be considered a goal. Therefore, small improvements in video quality or translation should not be considered justification to create another competing fansub.

Also, nothing wrong with this statement.

Quote:

4) Fansubs are not meant to compete with a professional product, therefore the quality of the fansub should not attempt to match or better the quality of a professional DVD.

Also, nothing wrong with this statement, however with the advent of new technology this might be harder to live up to - the biggest limiter is how big of a file is someone willing to download. It is now posible to produce DVD quality digisubs, however the size of the file is the limiting factor that prevents this from happening.

Quote:

5) At least once a year, a fansubber should justify his or her existence by subbing an obscure or older title.

Also, nothing worng with this statement execept for the fact that this also dosen't happen very often.
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Zac
ANN Executive Editor


Joined: 05 Jan 2002
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Location: Anime News Network Technodrome
PostPosted: Wed May 28, 2003 3:23 pm Reply with quote
Pipe dreams. Most fansubbers are 1337 IrC k1dZ who have to be the first to sub whatever show is obviously going to come out in the US a few months later. They don't have ethics when it comes to theft, therefore no ethical code is necessary.
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Tempest
ANN Publisher & CEO


Joined: 29 Dec 2001
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PostPosted: Wed May 28, 2003 4:01 pm Reply with quote
Zac wrote:
Pipe dreams. Most fansubbers are 1337 IrC k1dZ


I'm not sure about most.

But regardless, some are. And they're a very visible portion.
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Delthayre



Joined: 05 Jan 2003
Posts: 414
Location: One of the good United States
PostPosted: Wed May 28, 2003 4:11 pm Reply with quote
It's rather a good code. But I don't think there was ever an accepted code, or at least not an official one, in the first place, so I doubt this or anything like it would ever be accepted on a large scale. The fansub community (which must truly be ghetto in the least accurate and savory sense) currently more or less functions on an unwritten constitution of sorts. But not nearly as well as the United Kingdom.
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cyrax777



Joined: 05 Mar 2003
Posts: 1824
Location: the desert
PostPosted: Wed May 28, 2003 5:03 pm Reply with quote
Zac wrote:
Pipe dreams. Most fansubbers are 1337 IrC k1dZ who have to be the first to sub whatever show is obviously going to come out in the US a few months later. They don't have ethics when it comes to theft, therefore no ethical code is necessary.


yeah no kidding atleast TW and Elite stop once something gets picked up.
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Jlbkwrm
Old Regular


Joined: 03 Jan 2002
Posts: 94
PostPosted: Wed May 28, 2003 6:09 pm Reply with quote
I'm pretty anti-digisub. I still don't buy into the 'Free preview' purpose of digisubs. As such, I think my suggestions are probably too restrictive for anyone to pay attention to.

That said, a few possible additions (Please note that these are R1-centric, since the state of anime in other countries is a seperate issue):

a.) If there exists an in-print, licensed DVD with English subtitles, playable on R1 players, there is no reason to continue distributing the fansub. This is an extremely rare situation (Only applies to two titles I can think of, one of those is now R1-bound anyhow), but I think it's a valid point. If you can buy a copy to pop in your player and enjoy, there is no reason for somebody to continue distributing fansubs.

b.) One can get a taste of a series without viewing the whole thing. I would suggest only fansubbing the first four or five episodes of a new show when it airs. This will allow people to get their free preview (roughly the same as viewing the first DVD release), but will prevent people from using fansubs as an alternative to a legitimate purchase (which many do). If after a set time (I'd go with a year or two from the airing of the first episode) no license is announced, fansubbing on the title can pick back up where it left off.

c.) If the people making the show request it not be distributed over the internet, it'd be awful nice if they were listened to.

d.) For the love of little green things, don't rip an English-subtitled R2 DVD and pretend it's a fansub. It is a DVD rip. Let people know this--Some of them might even purchase the R2 DVD, if they know it's subtitled.

e.) Make your scripts as available as your fansubs. Encouraging and supporting people who choose to pick up the R2 DVDs as they come out is a good idea. Keeping the scripts private really doesn't accomplish much.

I'd be interested in seeing if a reintroduction of ethics resulted in a polarized digisub community. Fansubs had their outcast groups (White Cross being one of the better-known fanbootleggers, IIRC.) that everyone was warned against. Don't know if the same thing could carry across to the digital side.
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Laughing Hyena



Joined: 11 Jul 2002
Posts: 136
Location: Oxnard in sunny Cailforina
PostPosted: Wed May 28, 2003 7:13 pm Reply with quote
Also, if you see people breaking rules:

If you see any series that is licensed (beyond one or two esp.s) on a fansubber's website, e-mail them about it. If they do not take it off in a certain number of days, tell fansubbers who uphold the "ethical" path about them. If even the ethical fansubbers can't do anything, e-mail the companies that hold the license. Remember to give the company the URL and what series/OAV/movie is being fansubbed that is now licensed.

I'm all for making scripts available online for both fansubs and manga scans. I don't like them to be to kept private and then the fansubbers complain about how the company didn't sub the series right. Show us the script instead to compare and contrast.
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cookie
Old Regular


Joined: 02 Jan 2002
Posts: 2459
Location: Tokyo, Japan
PostPosted: Wed May 28, 2003 9:54 pm Reply with quote
Laughing Hyena wrote:
Also, if you see people breaking rules:

If you see any series that is licensed (beyond one or two esp.s) on a fansubber's website, e-mail them about it. If they do not take it off in a certain number of days, tell fansubbers who uphold the "ethical" path about them. If even the ethical fansubbers can't do anything, e-mail the companies that hold the license. Remember to give the company the URL and what series/OAV/movie is being fansubbed that is now licensed.


Why even involve the fansubbing community? They can't do anything other than spread negative propaganda about the studio.. they can't make the pirate subbers stop what they're doing. Plus you're getting people unneccessarily involved in a fight that they really don't need to be involved in.

Going straight to the companies rectifies the problem of unethical fansubbers, and it keeps the fansub community political factions out of the equation (...and the blood runs hot between some groups..)
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Dan42
Chief Encyclopedist


Joined: 02 Jan 2002
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Location: Montreal
PostPosted: Wed May 28, 2003 10:15 pm Reply with quote
Hey, here's another suggestion for ethical fansubbing guidelines: the fansub shouldn't contain credits (translator, timesetter, etc.) or a watermark identifying the group. That way you know they're doing it to promote the anime, not to promote themselves. An URL at the beginning/eyecatch/end would be ok though. Oh, and the eyecatch should contain the standard messages: "not for sale, rent or auction", "do not distribute once licensed", etc.
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LordRobin



Joined: 25 Feb 2003
Posts: 354
Location: Akron, OH
PostPosted: Wed May 28, 2003 11:03 pm Reply with quote
Dan42 wrote:
Hey, here's another suggestion for ethical fansubbing guidelines: the fansub shouldn't contain credits (translator, timesetter, etc.) or a watermark identifying the group. That way you know they're doing it to promote the anime, not to promote themselves.


That's actually a good point. I'm simultaneously impressed and disgusted by how well some fansubbers work themselves into the credits. Impressed because they do it so well (e.g. on the Witch Hunter Robin subs, the "HQA & ANBU" logo vibrates and blurs exactly like the main logo), disgusted because their egos need to be stuffed back in their pants.

------RM
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LordRobin



Joined: 25 Feb 2003
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Location: Akron, OH
PostPosted: Wed May 28, 2003 11:04 pm Reply with quote
Jlbkwrm wrote:
d.) For the love of little green things, don't rip an English-subtitled R2 DVD and pretend it's a fansub.


Has anyone ever done this??

------RM
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ultrabot



Joined: 26 Sep 2002
Posts: 130
PostPosted: Wed May 28, 2003 11:18 pm Reply with quote
yes, i belive Dream-Anime has done this on a number of titles (Hellsing, Strawberry Eggs). And that hellsing release was frightening, they encoded it all at 800x600 fullscreen, after seeing the first 2 eps I bought the whole box set because i'd rather have shelf space taken up than 6GB of movies for only 13 episodes. ..though i dont even have a shelf really..
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Emerje
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Joined: 10 Aug 2002
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Location: Maine
PostPosted: Wed May 28, 2003 11:59 pm Reply with quote
LordRobin wrote:
Jlbkwrm wrote:
d.) For the love of little green things, don't rip an English-subtitled R2 DVD and pretend it's a fansub.


Has anyone ever done this??

------RM


That's actually a common Bootleger tactic. Quite often they'll wait for a R1 release to come out with subtitles and slap it on a VCD or DVD. Not sure I've ever heard of a fansubber doing it.

Dan42 wrote:
Oh, and the eyecatch should contain the standard messages: "not for sale, rent or auction", "do not distribute once licensed", etc.


That's something that should really be discussed.

At no time should you accept money for your fansubs. You make fansubs because you're a FAN, not to turn a profit. The one and only time you should accept money is to off set the cost of distribution supplies such as blank DVDs, CDs, VHS tapes, packaging materials, shipping costs, and a reasonable amount for "wear and tear". You may not charge for time or labor as, once again, you do this because you are a FAN. If at any time you feel you should be compensated for the work you've done then you're probably doing this for all the wrong reasons.

If you distribute fan subs or own some sort of shop you may never sell Fansubs for profite. Money may only be collected for the reasons stated above. Chanses are you got these for free in the first place anyway. If for what ever reason you did pay for your original fan subs then that's your own fault and in no way should feel obligated to pass the costs on to your customers.

Reasonable expences should be as follows: DVD- $5, VHS- $2-$3, CD- $.25-$.50
Technology becomes cheaper every day, therefore "wear and tear" should never exceed a dollar amount.


Hmmm, I think that about covers everyting there.

Emerje
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