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"In the city of my birth, I had a dream..."
10th-Feb-2009 07:23 pm
Fansubs are always a hot-button issue, and it seems likely to me, given the volume of comments to the forum thread, that the recent all-gals roundtable at ANN on the topic where Bamboo, Sara, and I sit down and chat with a fansubber (available here and here in two weekly installments) is far and away our most popular yet. Unfortunately, this was also, admittedly, one of the most flawed to be published thus far.

I'd say more, but Fan History's blog writes about a couple of the most salient of these problems in great detail, so now I don't feel the need. Just check out the critique over there, instead--it's a ballsy, outraged exegesis but read through the anger and it's well worth a read in conjunction with our original column.

Hopefully, we will be able to cover some of the other obviously allied topics, such as copyright law, in future weeks.
12th-Feb-2009 05:16 am (UTC)
I don't know if inciting circular rhetoric and enflaming straw man arguments for two weeks in a row consititutes "popularity" in the sense of a positive interest in the topic, but it is one of most heavily discussed topics in CoA history, I agree. However, trying to wade through all the posts to find things actually worth discussing with others is growing tiresome for me, personally. It doesn't help that by the time I do make an effort to post, by the end of one hour my post is buried under a mile of other people who seem to very much enjoy hearing themselves tell others how stupid their arguments, and therefore those people, truly are, and not actually reading what anyone else has to say. Of course, there I go ranting unprovoked myself, sorry.
12th-Feb-2009 05:48 am (UTC)
Unfortunately, for websites number of hits is equivalent to popularity, regardless of whether people are surfing on in to love you or hate you.

From a knowledge point of view, the fansub installments were admittedly very flawed--a wealth of missed opportunity. The most obvious hot-button question was the one that was never asked: "Are fansubs harmful, to whom, and under what circumstances?" But believe it or not, there are some very interesting answers to that question that draw upon both empirical studies and legal theory...and they aren't the ones I, at least, usually hear bandied about in fandom circles.

Instead, we ended up in a quagmire that started with the question, "Are fansubs obsolete?" But you might as well ask somebody, "Do you really need that Twinkie?" Fansubs were always about want, not need, and to talk about whether they are still "needed" or not is nonsensical.
12th-Feb-2009 06:04 am (UTC)
I agree, but it seems every time someone tries to argue that fact (want vs. need), it is ignored entirely in favor of more soap-boxing.

I'd be curious to know what answers to the question of fansubs' harmfulness are uncommon among fandom debate, considering the debate is always heated and all kinds of things get mentioned.
12th-Feb-2009 12:50 pm (UTC)
Well, for example, I know of at least one empirical study, about a decade old, which concluded that Napster did not adversely affect record sales. Lawrence Lessig's Free Culture and Rose's Authors and Owners are also relevant. Simple questions, such as, "When is digital copying actually theft?" are key.
13th-Feb-2009 04:38 am (UTC)
I'll check out those examples later (when I've slept off this work week, ugh), thank you.

The thing about a study from ten years ago, though, is that the technology itself has advanced so much since then. My laptop a decade ago could barely play a music CD at all, forget about having enough memory to actually rip something. Also, the music industry is a considerably larger industry than the anime industry (at least, the R1 anime industry, anyway). I would have to question whether the effect was truly "not at all" or simply "negligible" in comparison to the general size and health of the music industry and wonder, then, if the considerably smaller and struggling R1 anime industry would be therefore much more greatly affected. Of course, I myself don't have the ability to solve that question, I'd just be interested to see if a newer, more relevant study might shed better light.
13th-Feb-2009 04:47 am (UTC)
The thing about a study from ten years ago, though, is that the technology itself has advanced so much since then.

Of course, but that's not the point I was making. The idea that Napster did not adversely affect record sales directly contradicts the popular narrative associated with the declining fortunes of the music industry; look at what ultimately happened to Napster. If I recall the actual data correctly, it was that the sales Napster in effect created by exposing people to music they wouldn't have tried otherwise were greater than those the industry lost to people who downloaded instead of bought. So, a net benefit to the industry. Naturally, it's just one study based on surveys, and studies should always been verified by other studies, but it really does make you wonder. (Incidentally, the researcher in question was dragged into court by the music industry to testify; the lawyers representing the industry didn't bother trying to marshal their own evidence to invalidate his research because the didn't have any--so they went straight in for ad hominem attacks instead. It does make you think.)
15th-Feb-2009 08:05 pm (UTC)
Oh, Casey. All I had to do was skim the article on ANN and I already felt my heart sinking. Such a provocative topic and it was all gone to waste.

There was no substance; all of it was just a lot of smoke from idiots rising into the air. If only they could redo this topic and not have ignorance permeate the issue... Like you, I had to step away from the computer. Very. Slowly.
15th-Feb-2009 08:09 pm (UTC) - OT
Psssst. >_< You see the flocked entry?
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