Fansubs Doomed?

Well this is pretty old news but I thought I would make an article on it nonetheless. Yes fansubs are officially banned in Singapore and naturally it is a huge hit against the anime viewing community, not only in Singapore, but for others as well (the fear that it might spread like the SARS virus and whatnot).

The outline of this story was about a guy who received a letter from Odex (Singapore’s main distributor of licensed anime) basically asking for settlement. A Crime?! For downloading “unlicensed” fansubbed anime?! (I’m using “_” signs, as from the original file copy I can see some licensed series the guy has been downloading).

Here is the so called letter that spells doom for us all.

Free Image Hosting at

Wikipedia entry:

As of 1 June 2007, Odex has sent letters to people downloading anime fansubs of series from Japanese companies that Odex represents. The letter threatens legal action unless the recipient contacts Odex to arrange for a settlement. It is currently unclear how Odex managed to obtain personal information of people that they suspect of downloading anime fansubs using bittorent programs. Of important note is that Odex apparently has the legal right to use legal action against people downloading anime fansubs of series that they do not sell, as long as they are produced by the Japanese companies that they represent.

Reading through the pages I was actually alarmed at the tracking system used by the company, it’s accurate to the extent that they are able to know the file name of the torrent which make me think…”how?” (I actually think that they have begun to use spyware to crack down on this type of practice, which is in itself damn scary). As some have already claimed “Big Brother is watching you!”

So the big question here is how it will affect the future outlook for anime fansubbers? Who’s to say that this might only be the start. what if it leads on to the next major event of fansubbing groups being prosecuted for a hobby? Even though the “is fansubbing legal vs illegal?” debate has been ongoing for a very long time, it’s still not clear as to whether it is right or not. Opinions vary and its mostly one of those gray areas in life, but could this be a sign for the people watching fansubs that “their days of enjoyment are over?”

As of now it is still unclear how people have had their privacy so violated. How isolated is this case? And will it spread like the next new fad? Only time will tell…

/cheesy end

By Deathkillz


4 Responses to “Fansubs Doomed?”

  1. 1 innominate June 9, 2007 at 6:32 pm

    Eventually, anime companies would realise that the bulk of their bread come from merchandise/milking, which is highly dependent on the popularity of the anime. It isn’t just that most people watch anime illegally, but also that they tend to purchase the legal product only after they’ve watched it illegally. Threatening legal action against illegal downloads would possibly impact the companies negatively, imo.

    But killz, I think you’ve missed the point. Fansubbing is still legal, just that in Singapore, people aren’t allowed to download it. And, it’s not just downloading, it’s bittorrent inclusive, that means, no seeding, no torrenting etc.

    Anyway there’s really no point in enforcing a law to prevent people from dling files off the net. They’re still going to do it anyway. I believe Odex realises this too, and it’s just a matter of time that they’d fall apart under the pressure of people power. Either that, or a black market would develop, ah, but anything really, I’m sure we know all about it.

    I’m from Singapore myself and if I’m not wrong several laws similar to this have been passed… But they don’t really enforce it that strictly. What should I say? Just wait… wait…^^”

    Believe me, Odex succumbed to whim. It’s highly possible that they’d remove their action in the near future, or that it’d be discarded. But I’m not guaranteeing anything, so don’t look at me =)

  2. 2 deathkillz June 10, 2007 at 9:35 am

    I know that fansubbing is still “legal” but what i am saying is what if this case isn’t just a “pass over” phase like how you stated it. What if this caused a knock on effect to eventually cause the landslide of fansubbing being illegal? as I’ve said, this is a really gray area that has been debated in the past (and maybe still in the present).

    But it’s more assuring to hear that past efforts has been blown off ~ heh

  3. 3 鋼鉄の Beowulf June 14, 2007 at 2:11 am

    IMO, fansubbing is illegal since it deals with the unauthorised distribution of a visual media. The question when dealing with fansubs is whether those who possess the rights are interested in going after those who have violated the copyright laws. Anyway, I feel that the Singaporean case is unique due to its niche anime crowd, laws and situation. So, it’s not necessary to start panicking yet. This is my interpretation of the Singaporean case.

    In Odex’s case, it has the legal right to go after those who have downloaded animes whose rights it has acquired or are in the process of acquiring from Japan. Anyway, Odex is not stupid. It probably realises that it can earn more by taking legal action against those who download fansubs than by sales of its anime DVDs/VCDs since Singaporeans are an incredibly cheapskate lot when it comes to buying anime or I’m a Singaporean, so I know the attitude most of my fellow Singaporeans have towards articles like anime or video games. “Why bother getting the originals when you can the pirated/bootleg versions for free?” is the prevalent attitude among them. IMO, a simplified overview of Singaporean anime watchers and their purchasing habits would be like this:

    Casual watchers. Teens + those in their 20s: Fansubs only
    Hardcore watchers. Teens: Mostly fansubs. May buy licensed Odex media.
    Hardcore watchers. Those in their 20s: Still mostly fansubs. Those who are working or have disposable income may buy the original DVDs/LEs from Japan or the licensed versions from US.

    So basically, Odex is in a poor situation. Those who are keen on collecting DVDs and have the money to do so rather buy the Japanese or American ones instead of Odex’s DVD, citing poor translations, censorship and poor grammar as reasons for doing so. Those who cannot just download fansubs for free. Either way, they lose out. Hence, they decided on their current course of action. The situation in Singapore is different from those elsewhere, so I wouldn’t start panicking yet if you’re not staying here.

  4. 4 Cats June 16, 2007 at 7:35 pm

    nomi, it’s semi-legal at most.

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