There are a lot of discussion lately about how Korea is joining the fight against webtoon piracy. And how this silent war is being waged against fan sites for a while.
Soranews24 put it succinctly when it said:
Nevertheless, stopping piracy completely is an exercise in futility, which is probably why the M.A.G. (Manga-Anime Guardians) Project is aimed more at changing hearts and minds than using legal action to stop those pesky pirates. In fact, they’ll even give you a special-edition illustration if you join! -soranews24-
Piracy will always be around and while that doesn’t mean that’s justified, it also means that the energy spent stamping it out could be better spent elsewhere.
But firstly, fansubs and fansites weren’t initially considered a threat. There was a symbiotic relationship between creators and fans.
A symbiotic relationship existed between fans and producers that warrants closer consideration as we watch American media companies take a scorched earth attitude toward their most dedicated followers. -technologyreview.com-
It was recognized that the ardent support of its fanbase helped catapulted anime into western, and indeed into mainstream culture.
Two decades ago, the U.S. market was totally shut to these Japanese imports. Today, the sky is the limit, with many of the most successful childrens series, from Pokemon to Yu-Gi-Oh!, coming directly from Japanese production houses. -technologyreview.com-
It was not the action however of the Japanese media companies but rather the ingenuity of its American fans, of those who aren’t able to access and buy the media legitimately that led to the popularization of the anime culture.
The shift occurred not through some concerted push by Japanese media companies, but rather in response to the pull of American fans who used every technology at their disposal to expand the community that knew and loved this content. -technologyreview.com-
In the same vein, this symbiotic relationship is currently being challenged simply because the market is getting more and more competitive, ever expanding and ever encompassing.
However, fansubbing and translations weren’t initially considered forms of piracy.
The Japanese didn’t market enough nor did they decide to look beyond their own country to look at the vast potential of the global market for this kind of industry.
Piracy as a form of Free Advertisement
As discussed, the market outside Japan wouldn’t have existed were it not for the effort and actions of the fans outside Japan. It’s only through the free time allotted by translators for example that some forms of anime became more available. The ubiquity of anime and its derivative works are all thanks to the raised awareness that fansites and fans are actively giving it. Not only that but its indoctrination and integration into a generation’s culture becomes more organic as opposed to active advertisement done through commercialized channels.
What Korea can learn from Japan- Innovate, offer better service
Rather than taking a more aggressive and direct stance against piracy, it is better to exert the extra energy in providing better more exclusive services. In fact, a lot of translators are working for free for the sheer fact that they treat translation and scanlation as a mere hobby.
It is this dedication that catapulted much of the anime culture to mainstream media. Ignoring that will only serve to alienate fans and drive away potential customers.
The lessons from the Gaming Scene- the sampler argument
The gaming scene used to dealt heavily with piracy as well. However, with the loss of the trials create uncertainty whether it is worth pouring in and investing in money into a particular game.
This is where piracy came in. In a lot of scenario, people download the game, find out that they like it and continue playing it. Then years later when new updates and content are released, they are more likely to buy from that same company.
the European Commission found that “illegal consumption [of games] leads to increased legal consumption.” To be more precise, the study estimates that for every 100 games that are downloaded illegally, players actually legally obtain 24 more games (including free games) than they would in a world in which piracy didn’t exist. -arstechnica.com-
This is hardly surprising. Consider this. Someone encounters a game he never saw before. Played it because there’s no risk, he doesn’t have to pay anything. While playing, it turns out he likes the game.
Once new content and games are released from that company, they are more likely to buy the content since they already knew they like what the company produced. Along the road, they realize they want to support the company and the development behind the games and the content that they like.
The wrap up
Piracy is by no means legally and morally justifiable. Regardless, the free advertisement combined with the risk-free trial that piracy affords to consumers can be a powerful driving force for better sales.
A better solution
While trying to come after piracy is definitely agreeable, it is also smarter to capitalize on something that isn’t likely to go away anytime soon. By offering exclusive content, developers can utilize the market and audience generated as a result of piracy and innovate new strategies to further their sales.