Fan or Foe?

In Rayna Denison’s Anime fandom and the liminal spaces between fan Creativity and Piracy, we dive into the world of Fansubbing, which is a process in which  fans take raw footage of anime episodes and translate them into other languages. The question arises within the piece as to what the true intentions are of some of these groups, and if their work is genuine. Within the music industry, some of the points that Denison makes about fansubbing groups correlate to the music fans behind streaming services.

Just as Denison mentions within the article, these fansub groups are made up of anime fans who redistribute episodes of anime for a variety of languages. Music streamers on the other hand are not translating music in different languages necessarily, but they make the music more accessible for people on the internet. Sites such as Soundcloud were put into place to help upcoming artists post their own music to share with the public, while allowing users to share music with one one another as well as the Soundcloud community. Fansub groups work under similar conditions and release these episodes to an audience who  follow the direct site of the group, and other distribution platforms. Some of the more popular platforms in both of these separate industries do not always make access to their product free, and that economic component is big in highlighting a contradicting difference between these two industries, and the integrity that is behind their intentions.

In the early 2000’s during the reign of Limewire, music fans had access to millions of songs, with just a click of a button. Although it was a service that primarily served the public, Limewire did not serve to protect the artists who were responsible for this music they were streaming. Around 2008-2009 Limewire met copyright difficulties, and was ultimately shutdown for streaming millions and billions worth in music without the proper consent. Fansubbing groups usually upload these episodes for free to the public, and do not look for any compensation for their efforts. The same case can be made with Limewire; however these production companies that are responsible for the anime being redistributed by fansubs are not hunting them down. The competition that is seen in both of these industries is parallel to that of any competing business. Sites that can upload the most music/episodes at a faster rate with great quality are usually the ones who thrive, but shortcuts are utilized just so sites can keep up with their competition. I feel as though when it becomes a race to see who can get the most downloads or views, the genuine love for the products takes a hit, because steps are overlooked in the process.

A friend of mine started his own streaming site for music titled SnowyinLA, and he also makes music available for the public for free, but he pays the cost to keep up with the copyright regulations. Fan stream sites should always respect those that they obtain their content from and uphold that relationship to ensure that their intentions remain genuine, and that they stay true to their purpose to provide a service for the fans.

One thought on “Fan or Foe?

  1. Cezannie,

    I think you bring up a lot of great points here in comparing two online media distribution networks. I think one of the major differences here is that the fansubbers are providing a two-tiered service–a) translation, which is usually quite expensive paid work and b) distribution. On the other hand, music distribution networks are providing one service: distribution. A second major difference is access. Fansubbers of Japanese shows are often providing shows that will either a) never be distributed abroad or b) will be distributed much much later. Music distribution networks like Limewire was not due to a lack of access, but more (in my mind) of a response to both a) the convenience of downloading and b) the expense. You used to have to buy the whole album–not just one song–and it was usually on encrypted CDs. This annoyed a lot of consumers.


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