Nine Poles Held by Police over "Fansubs"
posted on by Christopher Macdonald
Polish newspapers and websites report that Polish police have detained nine people for questioning over their involvement in what can most accurately be described as fansub scripts, although the "fansubs" in question are mostly of non-anime material. The nine individuals were released after questioning (they were held for two days), they face up to two years in prison if they are found guilty of illegally publishing copyrighted material.
The detained individuals were involved with Napisy.org, a Polish portal where users could post and download subtitle scripts for movies. While the movies themselves were not hosted on Napisy.org, the scripts could be loaded into a video player and played along with a video—often a DVD rip—that was downloaded from other websites or peer-peer networks. The same method is sometimes used by anime fansubbers, although the majority of anime fansubs have the video and subtitles included as a single file or package.
As with North American law (Canada and the United States), unauthorized distribution and commercial use of translated scripts is illegal in Poland, even if the original material is not included with the script. Like American and Canadian law, Polish law makes allowances for personal use of translations. In late 2005 or early 2006, Napisy was temporarily shut down by its administrators while they reviewed the legality of their operations and the likelihood of legal action being taken against them. The site was reinstated after they concluded that Polish law was unclear about "fair use" and "personal use" and that there was little likelihood of any legal threat to their operation.
While Napisy.org was best known for carrying scripts of Hollywood movies, it also carried scripts for many anime.
The website, which was hosted on servers in Germany, has since been taken offline. Polish police were supported in their operation by German colleagues and the Polish Foundation for protecting audio-video content.
Di.com.pl has published an e-mail from one of the administrators of Napisy.rg that claims that only six individuals are known to have been detained and Polish police have released false and misleading information about the operation. According to the letter, Napisy.org was non-commercial in nature, as none of the translators received any financial compensation for their work. However the site does host commercial advertisements.