The minori controversy: are VN translators no better than narutards?

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While unauthorized fan translations of copyrighted material are not a legal grey area (it's pitch black almost everywhere in the world, except in very limited special cases), I've usually agreed that some are worse than others. For example, people like Henry Jenkins have argued that anime fansubs, at some point at least, contributed to the emergence of a viable commercial market for anime in the US (and a case can be made that, nowadays, some of that is occurring in developing countries where no legit anime industry exists yet). In order to have a moral, if not a legal, leg to stand on, however, there are minimal standards of conduct that fan translators need to comply with: don't compete with an existing legal offer, don't profit financially from your illegal activities, don't put your dirty names in the staff roll as if you had a part in making the product, respect the creators and their demands, etc.

With respect to these ethical standards, the bottom of the pit is probably somewhere at the level of the American scanlators of Naruto, or even worse, of the ad-supported sites that host them. It's piracy in the vilest sense. And until now, I believed the other end of the spectrum to be visual novel translation: the people involved can claim with a semblance of truthfulness that they sincerely love the medium, that they're trying to promote it outside of Japan, that the current legally-translated offer is very limited and that they actually encourage their audience to buy the original products by only providing translation patches as opposed to complete translated games.

Although I was never part of that community, it seemed to me as an outsider that there was a pretty strong sense of righteousness running there. One translation group called No Name Losers once gave birth to a meme, “BREAK THE SUPPORT DISK,” by pushing their pretense of legitimacy to somewhat ridiculous extremes after their 2007 release of minori's game Wind ~a breath of heart~. It is sadly ironic that the same group, NNL, is threatening to bring the entire VN translation scene down to Naruto scanlator level today by wilfully disregarding the demands of the same company, minori.

The sequence of events, as described on encubed, goes like this: yesterday, an employee of minori blanked the TLwiki pages pertaining to the translation of minori's game eden*. An edit war ensued, with TLwiki members reverting the blanking multiple times and sending a copious amount of profanities minori's way. When minori eventually threatened the site with legal action, the owner of TLwiki removed the targeted pages for good, although invectives have not stopped. Concurrently, cease-and-desist letters were sent to the groups currently translating minori products (eden* and ef). At least one of the groups working on eden* has issued a proper notice that they had stopped all work on the project, but the translators of ef, NNL, have been much less understanding. They're currently running a poll on their website asking whether they should proceed with the release, despite minori's clearly stated intent to pursue legal action if they do. I also understand that NNL has been meaning to release a full game rather than a translation patch, and that they have been publicly trumpeting their laughable fandub project.

What I do not understand is why so many people seem to support their stupid course of action. A game company has every right to ask you to shut down your illegal translation operations, and they don't have to be fair-spoken or well-mannered when doing so. I don't care that you've been working on this for this long. The only legally and ethically sound response is to comply immediately. Certainly not to fight back the very people whose interests you claim to be serving by releasing their game to an English-speaking audience. They don't want you to, so don't.

In that particular case, it's not even like minori's move came as a huge surprise. Ever since the Rapelay controversy broke out, they've been very touchy on how eroge are received abroad (blocking their website to foreign IPs, for example), and understandably so. Illusion has been forced to pull a product off the shelves in Japan because an idiot in the UK was selling illegally translated copies on Amazon, and some American extremists heard of it that way. That's a liability that minori, which, like many visual novel companies, probably isn't the most financially stable operation you can think of, doesn't want to incur. They have stated that they were open to negociations of official licensing rights provided that proper steps are taken to ensure that the game is sold in accordance with local laws and regulations (which probably means changing characters' ages and cutting some ero scenes), but they don't want pirated copies escaping their control, falling in the wrong hands and threatening their business. You don't have to agree with their reasoning, but you do have to respect it.

The displays of egoistical entitlement by eager leechers on /jp/, on the TLwiki or on the NNL poll are bad enough already, but if NNL doesn't quickly back down, it could all turn really ugly. Do you really want an actal lawsuit to be filed? Something like that would taint the VN fan translation scene permanently, and possibly also cause considerable difficulties for those few people who abide by the rules and try to obtain official translation and distribution rights for VN and ADV games.

89 comments for ‘The minori controversy: are VN translators no better than narutards?’.

minori: BAWWWWW, people like our work enough to translate it to another language, how dare they sully our culture like that, only glorious Japanese peoples should be able to play our games

Why should we care about the eroge industry when they don't care about us?

Just because minori is acting whithin their legal rights does not mean they're not assholes for doing so.

>TLwiki members reverting the blanking multiple times and sending a copious amount of profanities minori's way

Cool facts, bro. Do you have no idea about how a Wiki works?

So apparently now it's a completely respectable action for a company to take to vandalize someone else's website. The owner of the site would have surely taken it down if they had simply emailed him instead of throwing a tantrum. In any event, you make it sound as if this is about piracy. You should have clarified that the company has no intentions of releasing their product to an English audience (in fact, they are quite clearly against that). This is just about denying a product to non-Japanese. I don't know about you, but I find that quite racist.

"The owner of the site would have surely taken it down if they had simply emailed him instead of throwing a tantrum. "
They sent an email to one of the project members and didn't get a reply (not to the TLWiki owner himself though); I don't think they waited very long though. I think it's reasonable to do what they did.
"You should have clarified that the company has no intentions of releasing their product to an English audience (in fact, they are quite clearly against that). "
Have you even read what Minori said? They were quite open about translations, they just want it to be a legal translation. Not that you'll listen, you just want to believe that everyone in Japan is xenophobic because of your (rather racist) prejudices.

Also this article is a joke, get your facts right before going on rants about the VN community.

"They sent an email to one of the project members and didn't get a reply (not to the TLWiki owner himself though)"

Obviously if you're going to resort to vandalizing a website, you had better consult its owner first. Also, I have doubts that they even went that far. Is there any proof they even sent an email first?

"[minori] was quite open to translations"

No it isn't. They made up a bunch of ridiculous restrictions that obviously mean they have no intention of allowing a translation. Off the top of my head, they want it sent to a ratings company, and they want any negotiation to be done in their country. What are the chances this will ever happen? Clearly, they're just making conditions up to justify taking it down.

"you just want to believe that everyone in Japan is xenophobic"

I don't believe that everyone in Japan is xenophobic. As another example of a VN developer, Ryu07 was actually happy Umineko was getting translated. It's just Minori who's racist, not the whole of Japan. Don't make biased assumptions about other peoples' opinions.

> No it isn't. They made up a bunch of ridiculous restrictions that obviously mean they have no intention of allowing a translation. Off the top of my head, they want it sent to a ratings company, and they want any negotiation to be done in their country. What are the chances this will ever happen? Clearly, they're just making conditions up to justify taking it down.

Those are pretty normal conditions though? JList complies with both of them, unless they just register it as Adult-Only from the start. Which I guess would save time.

No, JList does not bother paying the ESRB the standard administrative fee to rubber-stamp their games as being Adult Only, which appears to be what minori demands that interested Western parties do despite most consumers being happy to take a publisher's statement that "this erotic game is absolutely not suitable for children" at face value.

Apparently the reasoning behind this might be that in Japan the equivalent organization (CERO) extends a guarantee that the contents of games which they have rated are legal under Japanese law, and minori misunderstands the ESRB as also doing this. I doubt going through the ESRB would indemnify JList against an accusation of distributing child porn, should such be forthcoming one of these days.

1. minori doesn't allow usage of their software outside Japan
2. minori doesn't allow buying/selling of their software outside Japan
3. Said softwares does not work without Japanese operating system

Sounds racist to me.
And no don't get me on that BUT THEY NEED TO DEFEND THEMSELF shit as I don't fucking care.

Forgot to add

3.1 The software is locked intentionally to only work with Japanese OS
4. minori website blocks all foreign access
5. minori requests foreigners to solve the rapelay problem as if all foreigners are responsible

Sure is /b/utthurt Anonymous around here. What's next? You are going to DDoS Alicesoft when they block foreign IPs? Oh wait you don't have enough JP proxies to do it.

You're pretty retarded aren't you?
Ever wonder why only minori is getting all kinds of shit when not only minori is block foreign IPs?

6. NNL actually did contacted minori regarding the wind translation long ago but was ignored
7. minori demands unrealistic conditions if anyone want to obtain their license, doubtful if they actually want anyone to talk to them at all

woah, i don't even have to visit /jp/ for this post's point to be proven, i can just read the comments right here!

Only problem I have with this whole thing is how minori pretends that they appeared perfectly willing to talk. From one of their e-mails

>From June of 2009 until today, no member of NNL or anyone else for that matter has approached us with anything of the sort. Our doors are always open [to such communications].

The line, Our doors are always open is bullshit. They had been blocking foreign IPs, so while the door might have been open, there would have been a huge sign next to that open door that said DO NOT ENTER DIRTY GAIJIN.

Also, Tsurupeta, the comments on TLWiki were added by random /jp/ trolls, not anyone hosting the project. As you said that project took down their stuff and respected Minori's wishes. Also please do not think NNL is repersenative of most VN translators, they are the only group out there releasing full commercial games as stand alone titles instead of a patches. The vast majority of translation groups try to encourage legit sales.

You seem to forget that NNL was also the most extremist on legit issues (Read : BREAK THE SUPPORT DISC).
They probably decided to say fuck to minori because of several reasons (see above).

Yeah trolls trolling trolls is sure great.
Seriously, Gippy and his fags will never get sympathy from anybody that has seen their bullshit across the ages.

[...] original here:  The minori controversy: are VN translators no better than … Share [...]

Oh, look another sankaku complex pulling "news" out of one's ass.

Yeah, this sure is a "news" blog. u mad dumbass?

It being a blog automatically makes it shit.

u mad

Minori made a game, Minori has the right to control how it's available. It's not really rocket science, it IS illegal to modify their software and distribute it (in whole or in part), and it IS illegal for people to ignore Minori's demands to stop. Minori might be dicks about it, but them being assholes doesn't give you any justification to ignore them. It's a strange world we live in when people feel morally justified to ignore the rights of content creators by stealing, modifying, or distributing their product because they don't like the way they act. It might not feel fair, but Minori is well within their rights to control how, where, and who their product is available to. You aren't entitled to it just because it exists.

It's no wonder there's a rift between Japanese companies and the rest of the world.

Imagine if a company in America released a game, but refused to sell it to blacks.

Is it legal? Nope. Because copyright ownership does not allow you to break laws of equality. And don't give me any "HURRRR but Japan doesn't have those laws!!" We do, so we are not required to abide by their asinine copyright restriction, seeing as it is not even legal in our jurisdiction.

tl;dr If you refuse people a product based on racism, they are entitled to steal it.

This could be a good example if it were comparable at all. Lets fix it up a bit;
Imagine if a company in America released a game, but refused to sell it to Australia/Asia/Europe.

Is it legal? Yes. That sort of thing happens all the time.

They aren't refusing to sell to abroad because they're racist and they hate foreigners, they're refusing sales to abroad because their distribution rights only extend to their own country for legal reasons. As does their ratings board.
That their distribution rights end there doesn't mean all their other rights do. The game is still the Company's intellectual property. That they can't or won't distribute it outside of their own country or license a translation doesn't mean someone else has the right to do those things for them.
They made the property, they own the property. Technically, its their right to do with it as they wish. Even if what they wish to do is lock it to Japanese OSes to cause importing hassles.
Just for the sake of comparison, surely the 'locked to an OS' option is similar to region locking on other mediums? You know, that thing that other companies have been doing for ages. I might hate region locking with a burning passion, but they have a right to utilise it if they want to.

Even if big companies do it, that doesn't make it right. Region-locking content is discrimination, plain and simple. It's ridiculous that it is still allowed in this day and age, in countries that are supposedly bastions of freedom. But it seems everyone is only equal till you get to the border.

Ehhh....... not quite.
They aren't refusing to sell to non-native Japanese IN JAPAN.
Rockstar (to pull a name out of the air) would not be racist for saying "It's not worth our while to translate this into Japanese", just (IMO) stupid for excluding that large a potential market.

I'm not sure I would want to market something for Japan's culture in the US myself. We tend to be judgemental, arrogant, and ABSOLUTELY believe it is SOMEONE ELSE'S responsibility to keep things WE object to out of our kid's hands rather than, say, put the flaming X-Box in the living room and ONLY the living room where we can see what Junior is playing.

Mind, I think the asshole who was selling translated copies of Rapelay belongs in jail, but the groups who are NOT japanese who are screaming bloody murder about the game should STFU and spend their time funding women's shelters and proper rape counseling centers in their cities.

Being an asshole is NOT illegal. Stealing intellectual property is. Don't like it? Write your local governemnt representative/MP/ whatever government office is appropriate where you live.

And while I recognize I'm a bit late to this argument thread.....

Go to Mangagamer.com, a Dutch company I believe, they've just announced a deal to market english translations of ALL Minori's products.

From the company's side, minori has been lenient and somewhat understanding. Copyright must stand for something right? Even if your work has been translated into another language, a company doesn't want to see its work out there against their consent. Especially with NNL's standalone/no purchase necessary decision. TLwiki had scripts up for the fan-disc, so there was just cause for their action.
A lot of the fans from these sites are really aggressive, and do not seem to respect our wishes. The company is open to a proper english release. The same as other respected companies have done. We want to play our cards right, we believe our work is worth a lot. (We want to see a reputable company make an offer that will well be worth our time and money. Kinda like how Atlus USA picks up games, we want a company on that level.)

From the fan side. We want freedom of information! I can import your game... maybe I don't know Japanese; that's why we work together to make a translation project. This way I can enjoy works such as Eden* and ef; that I otherwise would miss... We live in a digital age, proclaiming you can keep your games to yourself until you get the "magic deal" or whatever is dumb. Life is short, just because I'm not in the "ideal spot" (Japan, with knowledge of the language) doesn't mean I shouldn't have a chance to enjoy what I enjoy. What profit are you losing by allowing us to translate and spread knowledge of your games? You will probably just keep ignoring us unless we do something about it.

Meh something like that anyways. So where do I stand?
I want to see a middle-road. Something that allows the fans to continue work, while the company gets compensation (whether by importing the game, or paying a fee for a patch). Some kind of digital business kinda like MangaGamer, where companies and fan-translators can coordinate officially. Some system to verify you either own the game [and thus can download the patch], or you buy the patch and some profits go to the company. That's my ideal situation I suppose.
I can't expect ideal business circumstances to happen when the only current precedent for these games lie with JAST and MangaGamer. ...Maybe if the Nitro+ USA/JAST USA partnership take-off then perhaps this ideal setting might have a chance in the distant future... But, I just don't see enough fans flocking to the scene with wallets open.

Well, my bottom-line thinking is... I'd rather see a translation than not. Also, I think 'too many kids these days' expect things for free XD
Hmm... nothing helpful was said ;_;

Except that minori doesn't want you to use, let alone buy, their games.

To sum up the problem.

English VN fans want to play as many things as they can
Minori wants fan translatiors to remove translations, and not offer a legal alternative.
English VN fans have no control over licensing agreements, and all they want to do is play a game.
Conflict arises.

People are willing to support official translations, however minori is not actively trying to release their stuff in English. If they had said "we are looking for a company to release our stuff" instead of blocking foreign IPs, people might be sympathetic to them. To be blatantly honest, we are very limited as to what we can play, and we don't really give a shit as to if minori wants us to play their games, all we want is to be able to play it. How much we enjoy a game has little to do with what the Japanese company thinks about us playing it. Don't get me wrong, I buy official translations from MangaGamer and Jast, and many others do too, but when it comes to fan translations we really don't have a mentality of "would minori or any other company let me play this in English", but rather "This game is awesome, I am so glad someone translated it".

Is this wrong? Sure. But when you ignore all the attempts at justification is this how it is for most? Absolutely.

Please don't group other VN translators with NNL. When there are a lot of people, there's bound to be some retards among them; other VN translation teams only release patches and try to comply with author requests. NNL are an exception.

Also, some corrections:
-Minori didn't just blank the page; it replaced the page with a request to stop the translation.
-Anonymous contributors, not members of TLWiki, reverted minori's edits.
-This eventually led minori to get angry and post legal threats.
-At this point I, one of the (now former) administrators of TLWiki, not the owner, blanked and locked the page.
-The messages to minori on the talk pages were almost all from anonymous contributors; no member of the TLWiki staff or eden translation staff posted there.

But they don't want you to have anything to do with them.
Nothing.
Read the comments.

Oh come on, a patch is just as illegal.

It may not be legally different, but it's quite a difference effectively and morally. Releasing a patch only might actually lead to more sales, and does not help people pirate the game. Releasing the game in translated form might lead to less sales, and is blatantly helping people to pirate the game (which could include some of the original userbase).

lol VDZ you run a private ftp with isos of japanese games and their patches. stfu hypocrite

now go tell all the fansub groups to release scripts only too

I'm not defending myself, I'm defending the translation groups. Me being guilty of something does not make the people I'm defending less innocent.

but it makes your statement less trustworthy, that is a common fact

Now my personal opinion, to tell the truth I didn't like your solution of this problem, in the end all translators gave up quickly running away like rabbits trying to cover their behavior in noble words of respecting rights of company. I like people with more backbone, I'm in trade and business domain, maybe thats why. So I'm on NNL side, though I'm afraid that they too gave up already, and patch will never be released. It just means, we will have to wait another 5-10 years before we see eden* in English. And thats simply a shame, because I can tell that even graphics alone makes its worth playing. Thats why as all here I also feel this deep grief. All due to bad circumstances. I'm patient, I'm sure I will live long enough to see it in English, and if chance comes by I'll gladly make life of midori or cowardly translators harder. Just to somehow avenge lost time. You might detest me for that, well we are all humans, there are some thing we can't help, neither you, nor we.
Best wishes, and please suffer a lot from now on.

Haha, you got him there.

You seem to forget that NNL was also the most extremist on legit issues (Read : BREAK THE SUPPORT DISC).
They probably decided to say fuck to minori because of several reasons (see above).

Thanks for bringing some informed points to this 4chan-infested comment thread.

Of course not all VN translators are NNL, and I don't think I pointed fingers at anyone else. However, unless other groups take a very clear public stand, I don't expect interested parties, especially in Japan, to tell the difference. The bad apples here can definitely ruin it for everybody, especially if they enjoy a large degree of fan support, as sadly seems to be the case.

>6. NNL actually did contacted minori regarding the wind translation long ago but was ignored

minori says that no one has done contact still before.

>翻訳を行いパッチを無償で公開することを許可するメーカーもあるかもしれません(当社は前述の通りお断りしますが)。そのような問い合わせを行った上で、活動を行う事だってできるはずです(少なくとも当社には過去に遡って、そのような問い合わせを頂いておりません)。

in http://www.tsukuru.info/tlwiki/index.php?title=User_talk:218.219.158.186

and we well know that it is a blatant lies.

you trust serial trolls nnl over minori?

You guys calling "racism" are going to have to find another word that actually fits the situation. There are no racial restrictions on buying or playing Minori's games or for viewing their website.

"if you live in africa you're not entitled to use, buy, sell any products of us, let alone view our website"
"if you live in america but your computer is in niggerspeak you also are prohibited from using our product."

yeh sounds pretty legit

Ever read the side of a US DS game box?
"For sale, rental and use only in US, Canada, Mexico and Latin America"

Japanese DS sale warning is much the same; "For sale and use in Japan only. Commercial use, unauthorised copy and rental prohibited"

I eh... I was expecting to find a European variant as well, actually, but I can't seem to find a similar message on my UK DS boxes.
There is a "Licensed for sale only in Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Oceania" line on my UK PSP boxes though (similar to the "Licensed for sale only in North America and Mexico" ones I've seen on US PSP/PS3 boxes).

So, basically, it sounds pretty normal to me.

THEY HAVE NO LEGAL RIGHTS AND IS THERE TO PROTECT POSSIBLE LOST REVENUES

HOW MANY TIMES I HAVE TO TELL THIS TO YOU,ARE YOU RETARDED?

AND EVEN IF YOU LIVE IN JAPAN YOU CAN'T FUCKING PLAY MINORI'S GAME ANYWAYS BECAUSE IT DOESN'T FUCKING WORK WITH ENGLISH WINDOWS.

AND IF YOU'RE STILL HERE, POST THIS PICTURE TO THAT 2CH THREAD
http://img12.imagevenue.com/img.php?image=48128_netaren78183_122_56lo.jpg

DOES THIS PICTURE GIVE YOU SOME IDEAS OF THE PIRATES?

BY THE WAY, WTO DOES NOT ALLOW YOU TO RESTRICT YOUR PRODUCT TO ONE COUNTRY.
MINORI USED WTO AS AN EXCUSE, BUT IS VIOLATING THE WTO ITSELF.

I think you're mistaking me for someone else; easily done with the anon-ing, I understand, but still.
You never said that to me before, and I don't visit chans, so unfortunately capsing away in response to me won't get your message where you want it.

People should really start using the correct term "discrimination" when it comes to these cases.

I have never read a more poorly informed post and I check Sankaku Complex daily. Did you even read the things they wrote on TL Wiki? Legal or not, they have no intention of letting the foreign fanbase access their media. The requirements for their licensing are along the lines of walking to the South Pole. Fucking ridiculous.

You want to ride on the moral high ground? Alright. You say copyright, I say discrimination. NNL may be full of assholes who have trolled us to Pluto and back but guess what? I fully support them as a group with enough balls to stand up against such outrageous treatment from minori.

There are right ways to stand up to a company and there are wrong ways to stand up to a company. Sending the Berne Convention to the meatgrinder and raping the ground remains of it is NOT the right way to do so. So is supporting NNL's stand.

Seriously, lawsuits notwithstanding, the only way to fuck with minori is to tell every Japanese friend you know to NOT BUY THEIR SHIT.

If minori are fucking assholes, DON'T BUY THEIR SHIT AND TELL EVERYONE YOU KNOW (preferably Japanese) TO NOT BUY THEIR SHIT. It's called a fucking boycatt, and it's well within your rights to do so.

BREAKING THE LAW, on the other hand, would land you in jail and an anus torn asunder from so much prison rape.

This post, while it does have some valid points, is also quite biased.

One could chose the more literary approach to this subject ; in his first and major book the French philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre wrote that "books and most art forms take on a life of their own, separating from their author in order to exist".
This quote has a pretty obvious meaning in the case of books, mostly regarding interpretation and commentary, especially in times of controversy - "you said in your work...", "this sentence can be understood as you meaning that you...", etc.
And the philosopher to add, "they sometime exist

    against

their author" (my emphasize). Art is art because it is in the culture, because it influences the world around it ; trying to make it a product removed from any influence is hence not only futile, it is also contradictory. What minori. is doing here is just saying, "it's an eroge made to gain money, it shouldn't be viewed as anything but a local good for local and short-lived use". Can they ? It is blatant that eroges have some sort of influence, both as a cultural object (the controversy in the US around pedopornography in mangas and j-games) and as an artform (where it both receives and gives).

Another side is the action of translation itself ; as long as it doesn't distribute the game itself, there is absolutely no way to argue against it.
It is only knowledge - and not the knowledge that comes from the game scripts, that can indeed be copyrighted. It is the knowledge of a language, the same one the creators used, free of charge, to paint their ideas.
It can be problematic with books, since they are basically nothing but words, that's why there are law devices in place to both help and prevent translation (comparate literature studies need them and have some rights to it, but editors can't sell translations freely).
But it is not in the case of Eroges - have you ever seen a script ? By itself, it's pointless, like me telling you "a dark haired chick with a weird smile by Da Vinci" and pretending I gave you the Joconde.
Hence, I'd say translations do nothing but provide people with enough knowledge to understand Eroges - they certainly don't violate copyright (maintaining they don't pack the game). If people download pirate copies, sure, that's piracy, but what has the translation got to do with it ? Indirectly encouraging piracy ? That's like saying Assistive Listening Devices (ALDs) encourage music piracy because they allow people that couldn't previously to hear.
Because that's what non-japanese speakers are faced with eroges - mostly deaf persons waiting to be given working ears. Of course people have a tendency to want for free what they can, instead of paying for it ; but that's completly removed from the topic at hand.

I must say I don't understand the replies given by minori., and since I own both Ef. and Eden*, I sincerely hope someone helps me read them. How would that be illegal ? I paid for the game, and I'm asking for help playing them ; it's like flour makers complaining that their buyers ask for the service of bakers to make bread. "NO YOU CAN'T IT'S MAH FLOUR YOU NOT MODIFY IT". Really ? That just seems dumb, and it is exactly how minori. appears to me.

What we would need would be a nice talk between everyone, trying to understand what we have to lose, what we have to gain, with translations. Minori doesn't seem open to that ; vandalizing a wiki, continuously spitting the same lines (rubish if I might add too), is not constructive. Sure some individuals got retarded and lacked common courtesy ; that's not the majority I see however.

Pardon my bluntness, but ignorant drivel quoting Sartre is ignorant drivel no less. Article 8 of the 1886 version of the Berne Convention already guaranteed exclusive translation rights to authors of protected works (and visual novel are protected works in that sense of course). Nowadays, it applies essentially everywhere in the world, since the WTO TRIPS agreement includes those provisions. You can translate the work if you are so inclined, but it is illegal to distribute a translation, or a translation patch, without authorization from the rightsholders. NNL can be prosecuted under Canadian laws if they distribute this and minori can sue them for damages. If that's how it turns out, there won't be much of a VN translation scene left to speak of, so you'd rather hope it doesn't.

Also, "vandalizing"? That's not what you call the removal of material you own and that is illegally hosted on a third-party site. That you read it on an Internet tabloid doesn't make it right.

You've got to be kidding me.

Gipface getting sued would be like FUCKING CHRISTMAS IN JULY. And not many will mourn the loss of NNL, to be honest.

The legal precedence, however, is going to be terrible for everyone.

ALso, minori are complete n00bs when it comes to wikiwars. For one thing, they should have at least used a proxy, if not TOR.

> The legal precedence, however, is going to be terrible for everyone.

My point exactly. Not to mention the distrust and ill-will that would inevitably follow.

> Gipface getting sued would be like FUCKING CHRISTMAS IN JULY.

lol what? dmca doesn't apply in canadia, what are they going to bust him for?

Canada still has copyright and intellectual property laws. He doesn't own the script, hence distributing it even in another language is still illegal.

Have you even read what I wrote ? I am well aware of copyright management since I work in an editorial department ; either my english is way poorer than I thought, or your ability to comprehend is. On a funny and more personnal sidenote, you should really see how book translation and movie rights are managed, because this whole VN affair is laughable compared to it (not that it makes it any better).

My point, summed up for you :
There are many research papers that are published daily using translated material. Credit is often given to the author, sometimes he is even contacted in order to use his text, but scarcely to translate it.
I am trying to say that VN translating is no different ; provided you have the original work, I think using a translation is fair. The charges of reverse engineering or distribution of copyrighted material don't seem to hold much ground in my opinion, because as I said neither the software itself nor the script are representative of the whole material.
It might not be legal (though it might not be illegal either, because translating and distributing translated copies are two different matters, but I'm no international lawyer so I'll refrain), but it certainly seems fair. You know, fair like in, Minori and game makers should let their games be translated if they don't play to have it done for them.

I don't really pardon your "bluntness" ; you come off as totally rude and butthurt, a great way to start a civil discussion. I'm just trying to express my thoughts and quoting a known philosopher from my country - that happened to think about the autority (as in author-ity if I may) of literary and artistic work - is just a way to formulate it.
So to emphasize, I was more concerned by the artistic aspect, call it human even, of the things, rather than the whole copyright thingy. If you insist on your viewpoint, sure, the authors probably have many rights on their work unless they are given to others.
It also seems paradoxical to me that Japanese try to enforce such a copyright-oriented attitude, because doujinshis are not exactly legal in that regard, and yet I was in the idea it was some sort of local particularity - you know, encouraging artistic creativity instead of being just money-grubbing economists.

>I am well aware of copyright management since I work in an editorial department

Apparently, you are not.

Copyright protects the work in part or in whole. Research papers that source other material are allowed to do so because they deal with facts, which are not copyrightable. The story/script of a game is a creative expression, thus its creator is entitled to copyright protection, including all derivative works based on it. Translation is specifically outlined in copyright law as a form of derivative work.

>It also seems paradoxical to me that Japanese try to enforce such a copyright-oriented attitude, because doujinshis are not exactly legal in that regard

Unlike trademarks and bootlegging, as a civil matter, copyright enforcement in such instances is purely at the discretion of the copyright holder. Copyright holders can choose not to sue whomever they want. The Japanese visual culture industry has reached near-universal consensus that doujinshi is not harmful to them. But unauthorized translation and distribution are. It is not difficult to see how the two activities are distinct.

If you read me carefully, you'll see that we actually agree on almost everything, except that I prone laissez-faire from the copyright holders, because no, I don't think the two activities that are doujinshi and fantranslation are that different. You do, Minori does too, but I don't, and I amply argued why.

So here, I'm saying it plainly, I don't argue against copyright claims validity. I argue against the use of copyright in that matter.

Your example on bootlegs is interesting. I love classical music, and have been collecting piano bootlegs for years now. It goes without saying that I own an ample library of CDs too, but because of the way performance work, there is so much difference between a live recording and a studio recording (and I'm not talking audio quality here ; one could say they don't speak the same language). I don't think any living pianist would have any issue with that though ; not that it wouldn't be within their right, but because they're really not much else to do. It's obviously going to happen less and less since almost everything is getting recorded now, often to be released as "event Dvds' ; I'm quite happy about that turn of event though.

Also, maybe it's just me misunderstanding the wiki community's lingo, but it really seems that's how they call the sudden and unilateral removal of all materials on a wiki page : "vandalizing". And whatever the reasons behind that action.
Furthermore, I don't quite see what the internet tabloids' role is in there.

I get it, you're defending minori's intervention - but even though I perfectly understand where they're coming from, blanking wiki pages is just something you don't do in this day and age. But you could say you don't translate VNs either, so, fight fire with fire ! I'm not sure that's how I want my internet though. And yes, I'd like more flowers.

Regarding "well, you know, they are hurting the VN scene", it is a bogus argument. That just means there is a void here that needs to be filled, and tiptoeing around it blindly is short-sighted.

Legal action needs to be taken against the narutards, because that clearly is illegal (forgery and distribution of illegal copies in exchange for add money, there's nothing blurry here).

Fansubbing is in-between, some shows are subbed by Funimation and the like, and others are just japanese-only. It is an economy of abundance, they don't lose anything from non-japanese speaker watching - though they might not gain anything either, unless they manage to seize that market (for instance with simulcasts).

Eroges ? Though there are official translations, their scope is extremly limited. Unless there is a big move by the game makers themselves, we won't ever see widespread official translations (we don't even see those for most console based j-games). If makers cared about the market that is opened to them with translations, they'd at least try to sell the original games to us (for instance, DLsite has an english version now I think).
In my twisted mind, I don't even understand why the translation team don't ask the game makers for money, since they certainly allowed for sales that wouldn't otherwise be possible. Even if it's just 2 or 3 sales, they wouldn't have happened otherwise.

"But they're dirtying the VN community, and they'll get our lolis banned, ho noez !" ; if fighting on a controversial issue is getting dirty, sure, I'll jump in the mud. And if it must be proven once again that most people are (insert slander) that can't differenciate fiction and reality, so be it. I just thought we got over that before Christ with greek theater, during the Renaissance with books, in the XXth with movies - but hey, what do I know, some people just never learn.
I MEAN THAT PICTURE IS TOTALLY UNDERAGE.

Do you own every mangagamer title, or do you have some fan-entitlement excuse to not pay money for those, either?

(if you don't own sandwiched by my wife and her sister that is acceptable but i think all their other games are better than minori games, if Wind is any indication)

You obviously did not play Edelweiss.

I don't see why I would own every mangamer title. I'm all for encouraging, I'm not doing charity though. I love my wife, but she's certainly not getting my whole salary worth of jewelry. Might need to invest a little more though if I want to keep playing...

You want examples, fine. I bought Edelweiss and KiraKira from MangaGamer ; Edelweiss, I felt a bit cheated by the quality, but like it has been said, they were young so may we forgive. Both games are quite expensive, especially for a digital product, so that might even disprove my "not doing charity" earlier. I bought several from JAST too, I think the latest was Princess Waltz (hated it, if only because of the androgynous shota). I'm eagerly awaiting Demonbane's translation, and depending on the reviews I'll probably buy it.

I can read some japanese, so I had already played Shuffle when they published it in english ; yes, I imported it for quite a lot of money a few years ago. And if I may say, I never understood the hype and disliked the game...
I also bought the japanese Soul Link, which I found atrocious, mostly because it didn't really interest me and because they were so many bad ends. So there were no way I'd buy it again in english.

Of course I've played VNs in english without owning the original game too ; Tsukihime for instance, that was my first VN. I'm no saint, sure, but I'm definitly contributing to the eroge industry ; I own several dozens of game (and I mean both the several and the dozen), many of which I bought in the last two years, since my japanese improved (I own most of the games Accany reviewed for instance).
Some of you people really need to come down your law-abiding high horses ; sometimes it's not "fan entitlement", it's just lack of money and proper export channels that make people pirate ; and most of the time, they don't pirate - they just want to understand because Japanese isn't their mothertongue. Do you have any idea of how much it costs me to import games in Europe ? Some games you can't even find without looking on e-bay, and I've had _copies_ sold to me instead of originals that way. AND YET I DO IT. Do you ?
I also support digital distribution, though just because I find it more practical - I love Steam and have bought many games on it (and they do mad price cuts sometimes ; though they often bleed you dry though, especially with the euro / dollar rate).

But game piracy is NOT the problem at hand - I pay for my games, and I'd love for them to be translated. If the maker won't do it, they shouldn't prevent others from doing it, especially when they do so free of charge and with great quality. I don't understand how you can argue against that. Instead of snark one-liners, I'd really love to see your rational there. They certainly don't lose money because of translations (do you think there is a single person in the world that read a script without playing the game ? And enjoyed it ?). Do you think translation = game piracy ? I don't. Are those releasing subtitles for movies, without hard encoding them, pirates ? I thought it was quite helpful when I found out one of my DVDs didn't have a subtitle track other than Chinese and Korean and some other I couldn't even identify (that was rich believe me).

All you mourning the VN translation scene are puzzling me ; I'd rather it was clear what can be translated and what cannot, than see people invest days of work just to be shut down because some publisher feels like it. I do think most japanese eroge makers aren't so obtuse as to hate on what you can call the "VN translation fanbase" ; Minori is kind of an exception, and one I also don't understand. Are they scared of foreign countries lobbying the Japanese governement to prevent them from making this kind of games ?
We all play eroge here, so we know we hate the lame undecisive protagonist. I don't think there could be anything wrong with an open discussion. And contrary to what you might think, both those blindly defending NNL and those blindly defending minori are in the wrong here ; mostly for the blindly part.
I've tried to express sincere thoughts in what is my third language, and all I got was flak. Is this the internet anonymity power ? If that's the case, we're doomed, but certainly not because of NNL or Minori. Look at yourself before pointing fingers like the righteous prophet you are not.
Drivel ? Excuses ? Is that how you communicate ? And you have the guts to marvel at how governements are trying to control the internet ? Please. I usually get paid for writing lenghty and useless soliloquies (great job), so you're really hurting me there.

And regarding Minori - I just own Ef and Eden* (with the fandisc), neither of which I have played yet. I might start Eden* when I'm done with what I'm currently playing, if the translation dies ; I'll probably sweat blood and take forever, along with missing a good chunk of the writing, but hey, copyright said so apparently.
After a quite wikipedia check (damn them for providing so much knowledge free of charge and believing in open source !), I also must have played Wind since the story is familiar (then again maybe not because it's really stereotypical). I confess I have no clue when I bought it or where my CD is, but that must have been a long time ago because all I can say on that game is, indeed it wasn't very good.

An example ; I have Kara No Shojo (and most of Innocent Grey games), it's in front of me on my shelf. I tried played it. It made me hurt. It was hard. They kept dying because I couldn't understand whodunit without taking forever. So I'm waiting for the translation. Am I wrong ? It was the same for Chaos Head, though in that case, it was not me chosing wrong, it was just the endings all being... bad ends.

I found minori last comment quite hilarious ; I really plan to live for a while in Japan, and have been pressuring my work for an opportunity since a good while now. When / if I do, you can be sure I'll go by minori's place - in a friendly manner, needless to say. That could make for a fun photo-report. If I don't starve to death playing Japanese eroges they have been amassing in their offices, that is...

Lastly, I come in peace ; I really hope I'm not offending anyone (if anyone but me can be offended on the internets), because I'm pretty sure most VN gamers are in their twenties like me (not for much longer... damn you Time !), and hence can be reasonned with. If you want to lowblow me, just point out grammar mistakes, that'll at least "teach me" :-)

All in all, it's stupid to post at lenghts like I do, because it is simple.

You can't talk about a "VN translation scene" if you identify all unauthorized translation as copyright infringement.
For me, the "VN translation scene" you all talk about is divided in 2 parts :
- the unauthorized translations of "unclaimed" works (that would include Eden* for instance)
- the licenced translations (MG, JAST, etc.)

Since the second isn't really controversial, the first is the real issue I've been pointing all along :
Should game makers let people use their material for fan translation, like they do for doujinshis, provided they encourage sales of the original game ?

If minori doesn't, that's not the death of the "scene" ; it's just minori's answer to that question, and I don't need to say (again...) what I think about that. But I guess I agree with you that it IS their right, and should be respected so we don't come off as pillaging hordes of multilingual barbarians (quite paradoxical considering the etymology... And interesting too.)
That's not a question of copyright ; nothing here prevents minori from letting NNL release their translation (maybe their behaviour, but hey...), and I for one think the world would be better with more translated eroges avalaible.

Ah, for the halcyon days of al|together, when translators and VN creators worked hand in hand...

There's always narci2, I guess.

I understand that they're against the translation, I mean, hey! It's there right to be.
However, actually asking foreign customers to refrain from buying their games is beyond belief... I mean, I for instance own the second ef-game. Okay, where would be the problem if a group made a patch? There _is_ no non.japanese market because minori doesn't even want one, and with that, there won't be any damage to their sales, quite the contrary actually.

And you can't possibly tell me that a company like minori has no lawyer that doesn't even know when you can be sued or something. They've managed to sell every single copy of the two ef-games, a PS2-game will be released on 29th this month, eden did fairly well as far as I know, they sell soundtracks and singles, an ef was made into an anime which became quite popular... Please, don't tell me they can't afford a proper lawyer. ef starts to get so much out of hand that it reminds me of Fate/Stay Night, and there is minori saying "We don't want anyone of our fans to get hurt so please don't be a fan, don't support us and don't even try to get near us. k thx bye."

That aside... Those conditions they mention are plain ridiculous. <_<

[...] The minori controversy: are VN translators no better than narutards? | tsurupeta.info www.tsurupeta.info/content/minori-controversy-are-vn-translators-no-bett... – view page – cached While unauthorized fan translations of copyrighted material are not a legal grey area (it's pitch black almost everywhere in the world, except in very limited special cases), I've usually agreed that some are worse than others. Tweets about this link Topsy.Data.Twitter.User['minagi'] = {"location":"この星で最後の楽園","photo":"http://a1.twimg.com/profile_images/607004970/karin3_normal.png","name":"minagi","url":"http://twitter.com/minagi","nick":"minagi","description":"呟きからお察し下さい。基本的に適当です。","influence":""}; minagi: “翻訳厨 vs 実が白熱してる… わけではなく、取り上げている海外blogのコメント欄が良い感じに燃えているってところかなあ。「外国人嫌い」という批判だけならまだしも、レイシストという批判に文化の違いを感じる。 http://bit.ly/cr44Ta ” 14 minutes ago view tweet retweet Topsy.Data.Twitter.User['bikasuishin'] = {"location":"Paris, France","photo":"http://a3.twimg.com/profile_images/65187307/maturi_normal.jpg","name":"mt-i","url":"http://twitter.com/bikasuishin","nick":"bikasuishin","description":"Follower of Dr. Barasui's teachings on cuteness and justice.","influence":""}; bikasuishin: “New post: The minori controversy: are VN translators no better than narutards? http://tinyurl.com/33mqllw ” 2 days ago view tweet retweet Filter tweets [...]

[...] forward to last week. A popular visual novel translation wiki broke out into an editing war. Later it was learned that the vandals were actually an agent of minori, and the subsections [...]

[...] Some translators are ticked off about it. [...]

Dog in the manger. That pretty much is minori's position. In other words, "We aren't going to translate our games into English and we won't let anyone else do it." Though it's their undeniable right, actually using it was a mistake and even more so because of the way it was done.
There are two possible reasons for them to do what they did:
1) Piracy. English patch will definitely increase piracy in English-speaking countries. Taking TL project down would've been justified if minori sold English or Japanese versions of their games on international market. However, there are no English versions, not even plans to make them; Japanese versions can't be run on non-Japanese OS. minori's real problem is domestic piracy, and presence/absence of English patch won't increase/decrease it.
2) Fear of media shitstorm (see RapeLay/Equality Now/CNN case). Neither ef nor eden* have something worth raging about compared to other developers' games that have English patches, so having minori's games targeted by media seems extremely unlikely.
Neither of these reasons seem important enough to kill possible international market gaining xenophobe reputation in process.
I could've believed that they blocked foreign IPs in a naive attempt to get visitors' support against their own government's decisions (I'm kind of minori fan still for some unknown reason, you see). But I can never believe that minori are obliged to check that their international customers don't break laws of their respective countries.
So far that page looks like a poor attempt of damage control.

Regarding NNL's decision to distribute standalone version(s) of minori's game(s), I really don't know. Of course, it's illegal no matter how you look at it (and pretty much every fan-translation is illegal), but that doesn't mean it's not "morally okay" considering the circumstances. Generally, English patches are preferred since they can (and are intended to) be applied to the game one legally bought. However, minori don't let their games be run on non-Japanese OS; if your OS is Japanese, there's a very good chance you don't need English translation anyway. Besides, English standalone release is of no use to minori's target market as long as it doesn't contain Japanese text (since Japanese don't need English version and minori aren't interested in non-Japanese customers).

Of course, everything above is most likely biased POV due to me being minori fan and a VN pirate, but I did my best to be objective. Hopefully this will be of some use to someone else.

>minori's real problem is domestic piracy, and presence/absence of English patch won't increase/decrease it.

I question this. The English patch increased the availability of pirated torrents and such, and yes, the Japanese do use pirate sites from the English side of the internet. I've seen many a Japanese MAD whose video source clearly came from fansubs, plus Japanese pages dedicated to "how to download stuff from American torrents."

>Neither ef nor eden* have something worth raging about compared to other developers' games that have English patches, so having minori's games targeted by media seems extremely unlikely.

Aren't the characters in ef under the age of 18, and it has sex scenes?

You question what? That domestic piracy will increase if there's English patch? Unlikely, and I'll explain why. Think about Japan's internet access speeds compared to all the other countries. Since downloader, being Japanese (if he isn't, he's from non-targeted audience and hence is out of the question) generally wants to download from P2P as fast as possible, he'll go with national P2P services, namely, Share and Perfect Dark rather than with international BitTorrent, which will be slower by definition. English patch won't be distributed via Share and PD; even if it will be distributed along with Japanese game via BT or DDL (BTW, patches aren't supposed to be distributed these ways), only the minority of Japanese downloaders will get it using these ways. The difference wasn't worth ruined international market and xenophobic reputation.

>Aren't the characters in ef under the age of 18, and it has sex scenes?
Frankly, I have no idea since I was never interested. Some of them most probably look below 18 and let's even assume player can have sex with them. So what? There are like tons of such games with english patches (F/SN anyone?) and their devs survive somehow. Those having legal English release have "she's over 18+" plastered on every girl no matter how ridiculously this looks.

Unfortunately, it turned into a lose-lose outcome for both minori and fans, and fans aren't the ones to blame. I still have the hope, though.

Do we all agree that we definitly needed an Illyasviel route though ?

Google
Ashcroft v. Free Speech Coalition, 535 U.S. 234 (2002)
Reality: In the year 2010 any character in any game produced in 2008 is 2 years old. Photographs of minors: illegal as hell. Paintings, cartoons, CG images: not illegal.
Yeah, legitimate english translations are still gonna assert Ruruka Sagara is 18. You never know when the wind will change. Until it does.... loli may be tasteless, but it's not illegal yet.

I must completely and utterly agree with Nemo here.
Finally someone mature enough to talk about this whole thing properly.
Good points well made in real English. (it only fell apart in 1 post a bit as far as I noticed, the English)
It is refreshing to see in this sea of bullshit of the past few days. (not that I don't find that sea highly amusing)
Props to you good sir.

Isn't Funimation a compagny who copy/record Japanese anime from the Japanese tv, or steal from fansubs? And then license those under their own name, sell them and make huge profit? Isn't that legal piracy? (if piracy ever can be legal...) And I think that Funimation is from the US as well.

The random translators in other countries then the intended target country do much work what the devs didn't.

Media attention should be positive and not negative. Positive as in more attention to the product so more people buy it. Negative as in should it be allowed for my husband? Or would my kids steal the game disc and install and play the ero game... Tada new laws: no

No.
Funimation pays the appropriate licensing fees then pays english speaking voice actors to dub the series.

Japan's copyright can only be enforced in Japan. If you pirate distribute a game outside Japan from a server outside Japan and you are living outside of Japan and are NOT a Japanese citizen, the Japanese legal system can't touch you. While your actions may be wrong, and punishable by law inside Japan, the jurisdiction of Japanese law ends at the Japanese border. This means if I'm in the US and I redistribute a Japanese game the Japanese police can't come marching into the US and arrest me. And if the Japanese company issues a lawsuit, if you are in the US you are under no obligation to show up in Japanese court, and are under no obligation to pay. Scream profanities in anger as the Japanese companies and courts might, they can't touch you in the US because of the legal aspect known as jurisdiction which ends at a country's border.

You don't know what you're talking about. Copyright law applies essentially internationally (at least accross all countries that are parties to the Berne convention, to one of the Universal Copyright Conventions or to the TRIPS agreement). It is perfectly possible for Japanese rightholders to sue American pirates before a US court.

The upcoming ACTA Treaty signed by many countries including Japan, USA, and the European Union was created to make criminalize copyright violations as well as to overcome various hurdles created by prior court precedent rulings on fair use, search and seizure, and isolation between civil and criminal matters. ACTA requires each signatory country to create an additional law enforcement department that handles ONLY ACTA type matters. Anyone can report to the ACTA law enforcement a violation, so no longer do copyright owners have to bother with C&D letters or C&D lawsuits. They can just report it to ACTA and let the taxpayers pay for the costs of investigation and prosecution. More info about the ACTA Treaty is at wikipedia. Minori can easily report to ACTA and things will be settled then.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ACTA_treaty

So most of this discussion took place in April. It's now December. Mangagamer announced AN AGREEMENT to translate and market the Minori catalog in English.

Despite assertions at various points in this discussion that there were no such plans or negotiations, apparently there were. If you don't work for the company, how can you assert there are no plans to translate "XYZ"?

QUOTE: """No, JList does not bother paying the ESRB the standard administrative fee to rubber-stamp their games as being Adult Only, which appears to be what minori demands that interested Western parties do""" END QUOTE

Hmmm. J-List / JAST-USA / G-Collections is false when they claim the depicted characters or persons in their merchandise are 18 or over for child pornography purposes or to meet the Protect Act. It's just a blanket statement Peter Payne makes. For example, Peter Payne translated "Three Sisters" and if you knew japanese, one of the girl's ages is stated as 14 in the original. Peter Payne must have known the depicted girls were underaged that but he depended on the ignorance of others and their inability to acquire the original japanese information or statements from the game makers when he exports to other countries. The same occurs with doujins sold at J-List; if you knew japanese, the ages of the girls are 14 or even younger in some of the ones he sold. The disclaimer is just a "rubber stamp" to persuade people to leave Peter Payne's group of companies alone.

**Peter Payne companies: J-List, Peach Princess, JAST-USA, G-Collections

But there is some concern that the system may be worse than no system at all. Three modes are available, and it plays conversation sounds of Bumblebee. It has a rumble feature, and joystick to keep your child engaged.

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