YD have been one of the more vocal authors against them and so when Lezhin apologized last week for their harsh exchange and actions with fans, I have been following YD’s tweets as well.
But I was distracted by my website going haywire on me after a server upgrade so I wasn’t able to really follow what’s going on. Regardless, the more I look into the whole issue, the more I’ve come to understand where the outrage is coming from. Just a few minutes before this article was posted, I poked fun at the growing trend here: https://www.yaoimangazine.com/articles/opinion/another-author-joins-the-bandwagon-in-dissing-their-fans-over-illegal-sites-childish-or-justified/
But it turns out the situation is far more serious than any of us realize. Regarding the whole situation, the translators are not blameless here. I mean bragging about what you’re doing? That reaches a whole new level of arrogance. It’s inconsiderate. I understand that they’re just trying to translate the works so the fans can read the content but it’s one thing to brag about it.
So after seeing this tweet, I instantly felt guilt about making light of this situation before. This is why I’m writing this article, so people will have an idea on what really happened.
The story is far simpler than we realize. It turns out that a translator going by the handle IvanMaka bragged on social media about how their group is translating webtoons at just 30 minutes. To rub insult to injury, there’s a screenshot posted of the chapters that are yet to be translated.
So when you brag about something like this, it is bound to get attention. This is why it’s such a hot topic issue right now.
Authors Taking Action
On the other hand, authors are finally organizing themselves to deal with illegal translations as a response and this is a better move as opposed to attacking the readers who are just receiving what’s available to them. With this move, I can respect that at least they are taking concrete steps that will hopefully address this issue and will prevent it from happening in the future.
Readers still caught in the crossfires, blamed
Regardless, the readers won’t get off unscathed either, they’ll still be subject to the occasional insults and jabs from these authors.
YD also tweeted “I don’t want to work for thieves anymore” and also “I am more horrified by people who read illegal webtoons than by making illegal webtoons. Illegal translators make illegal webtoons. Illegal readers who make illegal translators.” Suggesting that the existence of these translators are partly due to the readers. While that’s a harsh accusation to make, at least now we can understand why they’re doing it.
Still, is it really right to blame the readers in their entirety? Or should the industry also shoulder some of the responsibility? Just as how it’s claimed that illegal readers create illegal translators, I’m confident to say now that it’s the manga/webtoon industry that created these illegal readers and illegal demand. Why? Simply because there’s a need and demand that they haven’t met. And where there’s demand, someone will always try to meet that, even if they’re doing an illegal thing. So how do we approach this dead lock? Simple, by eliminating the demand.
Where do we go from here?
While everyone points fingers and blame the other, we have to look into how we can better the industry as a whole. While it is easy to point blame, wouldn’t the demand taper off if they’re making these webtoons more available? Why are illegal translators faster at getting their versions out than official sources?
I think this is a very valid way that the industry can improve upon. If they outrace these translators, there’s no reason for readers to flock to them. As mentioned, remove the demand by meeting it head on.
An uncertain future- but is it really?
As both camps continue to whether through this storm, the future remains uncertain. Piracy is old, way older than any of us. And it has thrived, existed for a reason. It’s only until recently that the movies and music industry was able to stamp out piracy. But even then there’s still a small amount of it that remains in this day and age. It’s just a fact of life that every content creator have to contend with.
So what’s the next step?
While I don’t claim to have the answer, I think that the movie and music industry have a head start in dealing with this problem. And they were able to succeed by making their media more easily accessible. And by making it easier to purchase rather than to pirate. I think this really is the best course of action in dealing with these illegal translations.
Because you can imprison, you can take down, you can insult readers, you can close one group or website and another one will always take its place, just because there’s a demand that the official and legal sources haven’t been able to adequately meet and fulfill.
As long as a demand exist and this demand isn’t being fulfilled, there will always be illegal sources.
As this war rages, it is important to keep a level head when handling this delicate situation. What the manga and comic industry has to realize is that there’s a demand that’s not being adequately met. This is why people both readers and translators flock to it. The black market only remains as lucrative for as long as the legal sources remains unable to meet their demand. If the demand is met, there’s no more reason for people to take the illegal route.
So I think this is the takeaway here. It will be a hard, long and difficult process for the manga/webtoon industry, but it will be the necessary growing pain to really curb and eventually stomp piracy and illegal works.
I’m not justifying the existence of these markets and translators by any means. I am just stating the facts as to why they exist and in so doing, hopefully contribute to how the market and industry as a whole can adjust itself not just to keep up with the demand but to ensure that they’re delivering the best service possible.
Because currently, the readers are being blamed, the translators are being targetted and the authors are losing money. It’s a lose-lose-lose situation.
Finding the way where everyone can win except the illegal ones is difficult but will be worth it for sure.
By giving better service, more affordable solutions and as mentioned previously, making it easier to obtain the legal material as opposed to the illegal material.
Sure it’s a lot more work. But in the end, it will result to a better product and a better service all in all. And in delivering a better service, it’s not just the consumer who wins, but the content producers as well simply because now with their better service, they become the better choice than the black market.
The sooner they realize this and the sooner they implement the changes to outrace the illegal providers, the better it will be for everyone in general- may it be the readers, the authors and the industry as a whole.