Every so often I like addressing really controversial topics. This is always because I feel like I can add insight to how some people may think about the topic at hand, open their mind to other sides of the argument or find more defence to what they believe, and overall just get people to think about the topic more. Aside from today, I think I’ve only ever discussed legal topics once in the past and was (still am) very against what the law, at least in the United States, was. Today, even though we are discussing something in a similar vain, it’s going to be something just a little different. Let’s talk about piracy.
As someone who has a subscription for Crunchyroll and uses their service to watch a majority of my anime, a creator who writes novels and in a way depends on the sales of books to do well, and someone who likes going the extra mile to support the people I really enjoy, my stance on this subject might be surprising to some. I don’t hate piracy. In fact, while I don’t encourage it at all, can see exactly where pirates can be coming from and I don’t think all people who pirate are bad people. Piracy can be the result of a lot of things and not all of them I think are horrible.
First off, the thing being pirated is too expensive for the person who wants to experience the thing they want. This is something I can’t get entirely behind unless later down the line, which has been shown to happen somewhat commonly when it comes to pirating games and music. For someone who is active in an online community that just loves a new game or show came out, it’s difficult to resist the temptation of pirating something you can’t afford so you can join everyone else. This is especially present in the anime community, as not every airing show gets picked up by legal streaming sites and not everyone can afford monthly payments to such sights. Of course, there’s free ways to enjoy these shows, but when the alternative is right there, it’s hard to ignore. In my completely honest opinion, so long as you pay for what you pirated at some point or another, I don’t think piracy is entirely bad. Sure, it messes with the income on some level and I in no way am defending that, but at the very least these people give back what they took at some point. Piracy is pretty much unavoidable, but if pirates do eventually legally obtain something, I don’t see nearly as much harm being done.
Secondly, what you pirate can be literally impossible to reasonably legally obtain. This is the problem with being in a world where the internet connects all of us, at some point someone may run into a band, game, show, or movie, and it won’t be legally possible for them to enjoy these things. In the anime community it happens a lot with music and shows, especially people wrapped up in the doujinshi scene. Not every doujin album is available overseas and a lot of the time to get the ones that are you have to pay anywhere from two times or up to five times the price people who attend Comiket or Reitaisai pay. With this huge barrier in mind, pirating makes a lot more sense. Along with this, not every anime has been picked up for licensing in English or legal streaming. Licenses can also expire, shows can no longer be available for purchase or legal streaming, and while everyone is saying how great one show is, there’s not legal way to watch it.
Let’s take the hugely popular show Nichijou for example. Nichijou is amazing. The art is unique and loveable, every character stands apart from the last, and the entire show is pretty hilarious by my standards. With this said, there is currently no way to legally stream Nichijou in English and there is no way to purchase Nichijou in English outside of Australia. The poster I used above that I took from Crunchyroll even had to be taken from a news article involving the manga, which was licensed by Vertical Comics. Sadly, this is the fate for a lot shows loved by the anime community, as licenses don’t last forever and not everyone who licenses is able (or willing) to renew their license. With that said, then how are people who are a fan of the medium and weren’t around when the show aired able to watch it? Legally, it’s impossible.
I know creators who have expressed in the past that if what they created can no longer legally reach parts of the world and you happen to live in that part of the world, they would rather you pirate their creation than never experience it at all. Even bigger names like James from Extra Credits has expressed before that he wants you to pirate his game if you can’t legally get it. The doujinshi band Foreground Eclipse has had its composer come out and say that he’d try to sell every last album he had from when the band was alive, but eventually once he wasn’t able to and re-sellers asking for ten times the price he sold them for were the only way to legally get his music, he started linking YouTube videos to the songs he had fun writing and wanted people to watch them despite him never personally uploading them.
No one likes when their work cannot be enjoyed by an audience who actively wants to enjoy it. It’s for that reason I upload my books in their entirety to my publisher’s website so that people who wanted to buy the books but can’t anymore (which has sadly already happened) have a place to go to enjoy what I put tons of effort into when their chance is gone. Not every creator has this chance, though, and for that reason I can get behind the second reason much more than the first. What a Draw the Emotional Touhou arrange album? Well they’re literally no longer around legally, so I wouldn’t blame you at all for pirating them.
With this said, I know a good amount of creators that believe in the exact opposite and that no piracy is okay. While I respect them, some of which I talk to from time to time, I do disagree. Creators make something for others to enjoy. Novelists like me, game developers, musicians, and every single person listed on the credits of every movie you watch. We all want you to see what we’ve made and love it as much as we loved making it. If that no longer becomes possible, then I can’t believe that a majority of us to watch our creation die. If you can only keep it alive, continue enjoying it and sharing it, by taking it for free, I can’t say I’d ever be upset if you did.
Thanks for reading today’s editorial! I know I couldn’t add much to the conversation that has been going on for years and this post was really just an echoing of what so many people have already heard, but this felt like something worth talking about this week. I thought perhaps after hearing this from the mouth of someone who makes something and wants people to spend money on what he makes, it’d open up new ideas to some of you. Reminder that I do read every comment I get on these posts, even if I don’t reply to all of them, and I would love to hear what you all think about this subject.
For this editorial I referenced a good number of sources so this isn’t just another WordPress blog talking about something they don’t fully understand, and links to each of those sources will be listed below alongside the artist credit. Next week is my two-year anniversary of writing for Anime Corps! It hardly feels like that long at all, but this upcoming Thursday I’ll be doing a Q&A for anyone who may have questions for me and I’m answering all of your guys’ questions! If you’d like to ask me anything, please do so by tweeting with the hashtag #AskTsuyuki! While you’re there, if you’re interested the stuff I do when I’m not writing for this blog, you can follow me on Twitter. As always, I’ll see you guys next week!
The featured image for this post was drawn by pixiv artist 白猫イツ.
PC Gamer article: “PC piracy survey results: 35 percent of PC gamers pirate”
Huffington Post article: “Music Pirates Buy 30 Percent More Songs Than Non-Filesharers: Study”
Amazon Japan listing: “Sasage” by Diao ye Zong
Diao ye Zong official website: New Album “Sasage”
Extra Credits episode: “Extra Credits: Piracy”
Foreground Eclipse’s Teto’s Twitter: @xtxextxox