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[LINK] Transformative Works and Cultures: Vol 17 (2014)

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acafanmom:

New issue posted today, and several essays/interviews/reviews that may be of interest to people here:

Redefining gender swap fan fiction: A Sherlock case study – Ann McClellan

Bull in a china shop: Alternate Reality games and transgressive fan play in social media franchises – Burcu Bakiolgu (phdfan, this might interest you?)

Twinship, incest, and twincest in the Harry Potter universe – Vera Cuntz-Leng

Queer encounters between Iron Man and Chinese boy’s love fandom – John Wei

Fan fiction metadata creation and utilization within fan fiction archives: Three primary models – Shannon Fay Johnson (destinationtoast, this might be of interest?)

Fan fiction and midrash: Making meaning – Rachel Barenblat

Wordplay, mindplay: Fan fiction and postclassical narratology – Veerle Van Steenhuyse

Fandom and the fourth wall – Jenna Kathryn Ballinger

Exploring fandom, social media, and producer/fan interactions: An interview with Sleepy Hollow’s Orlando Jones – Lucy Bennett and Bertha Chin

And much more! Check it out – this is FREE. OPEN ACCESS. Read! Enjoy! :)

[QUOTE] From Ba Zi, 9c. Fair Use and the Translation Stranglehold

I’d like to draw your attention back to an image I had used in another context, namely about boys/girls and the assumptions about/representations of in manga, and talk with y’all a little about Zolo. Now, you have to bear in mind that my first encounter with One Piece was a non-licensed translation dub of the TV anime. After that, I began to regularly follow the series while living in Japan, so I mostly read it in the weekly Shōnen Jump‘s I would dig out of garbage cans and recycle piles on Tuesdays (for the trash cans) and Wednesdays (for the recycling piles). At no point was it ever unclear to me that ゾロ was a take on the Johnston McCulley character Don Diego de la Vega, aka Zorro. I was a huge fan of the 50s Zorro television show that ran on syndicated TV when I was growing up. There was no mistaking: ゾロ was Zorro.

Fast forward a few years, and I am picking out the books for my “What is Manga?” class, for which I decide to use Oda’s One Piece as representative of the shōnen demographic. A few days before class, I sat down to read the licensed translation, so as to refresh my memory, and I come across the follow anachronism: Zolo. After a few minutes of obligatory “wat”s, I finally came around and tried to think why it was they would have done this. When One Piece was scanlated, the name was at least translated as Zoro, so the similarity would be apparent. Was this an attempt to bring back Rolo’s, which, while delicious, I don’t see flying off shelves nowadays awash in candies more flashy marketing than chocolate and caramel? It was actually just before–or perhaps even in the midst of–the class in which we discussed One Piece that I realized there was a very simple reason why you would translate ゾロ as Zolo: licensing. Zorro, like Mickey and Donald and Superman and Kitty-chan, is a diligently guarded media commodity, so, while one might conceivably be able to get away with aping Zorro in Japan, it would be much harder to get away with this in the US and the larger English language market, where Zorro media are still being produced to this day.

Ba Zi, 9c. Fair Use and the Translation Stranglehold

[QUOTE] From Hye-Kyung Lee, Participatory media fandom: A case study of anime fansubbing

Finally, the globalization of media fandom is also driven by consumers’ mobilization and coordination of intellectual capacities to mediate foreign cultural texts. Utilizing their own resources and skills, members of the fandom are willing to and capable of carrying out mediated copying and distribution. The work involved, such as copying, translating, editing, encoding, distributing and managing, is spread between voluntary participants who are closely connected via online communications. The availability of relevant free software is crucial in their work process. The final product of the fans’ labour is distributed via globally connected peer-to-peer file sharing networks. An important issue here is that the fans themselves carry out previously commercially organized mediation processes non-commercially. Their activity blurs the existing distinction between production and consumption and problematize the boundary of cultural business (Green and Jenkins, 2009; Jenkins, 2006). These participatory consumers ‘co-create’ consumer values in mediated cultural texts and share control over the text with the industries to a certain degree (Banks and Deuze, 2009; Cova and Daili, 2009; Deuze, 2007). This phenomenon can also be conceptualized within the framework of ‘free labour’ that sees consumers’ voluntary, unpaid labour as essential to the economic logic of the knowledge/information-driven society (Gill and Pratt, 2008; Terranova, 2004). However, what is more interesting about fan-translation and distribution is that it represents a new model of cultural work that cannot simply be imitated by the industries’ commercial operation. Driven by fans’ love for the chosen medium, the work is unpaid, self-organized and decentralized. It can be done on a 24/7 basis, utilizing enthusiastic fans who regard it as a hobby, not work, and operate from different time zones. The time and space condensation achieved by fan activities aptly demonstrates the noticeable gap between the globalization of participatory media fandom and that of cultural industries’ distribution business.

mcs.sagepub.com/content/33/8/1131.abstract

[QUOTE] From Hye-Kyung Lee, Cultural consumer and copyright: a case study of anime fansubbing

Similarly, fansubbing has been regarded as an equivalent for TV. In the anime industry context, the role of TV is crucial in nurturing consumer demand for DVDs. For example, the Japanese anime industry witnesses fans normally testing the anime via TV viewing and then deciding on their purchase of DVDs and Blu-ray DVDs (my interview with two commentators from the Japanese anime industry). Hence, Japanese anime producers have traditionally treated TV broadcasting as a form of advertising. While lamenting the lack of TV coverage of anime in the United States, English fansubbers see their activity as serving as free promotion. Interestingly, this aspect of fansubbing was widely acknowledged by the US anime industry. Until recently, the industry was generally nonchalant towards fansubbing but tended to agree on its viral marketing and market tester aspects.

(…)

Witnessing the expansion of digital fansubbing and the ubiquity of fansubbed anime on the Internet, the industry has broken its silence and begun challenging fansubbing’s legitimacy. It now defines fansubbing as piracy, and asks fans to stop making and using fansubs (Smith 2007).

Crosspost: fanhackers.tumblr.com/post/44211750695/similarly-fansubbing-has-been-regarded-as-an

[META] On regional releases and disrupting international fandoms

Since a few weeks back, some blogosphere hand-wringing has been going on about how Game of Thrones is the most pirated show of 2012. The second season has been downloaded via torrents about 25 million times.

Many people in the discussion are balking at HBO’s refusal to offer legal streaming or downloading options for a wildly popular show that everybody and their dog wants to see. Especially because the news about Game of Thrones‘ “top” position in the torrenting charts comes after months of reports about how HBO thinks digital-only TV viewing is a temporary phenomenon and is determined to keep its content accessible only to cable subscribers. Matthew Inman at The Oatmeal made a much-tweeted comic about he tried to pay to download Game of Thrones through all imaginable means, then gave up and found a torrent.

I had a similar experience, and many of the options Inman mentions aren’t even available to me because I don’t live in the US. As Forbes and a bunch of honest people on Reddit also pointed out, it’s incredibly hard to see Game of Thrones legally if you live in a country where getting hold of HBO is impossible or prohibitively expensive. I haven’t managed to figure out which it is over here in Japan; this provider claims to offer HBO in its $65-a-month cable package, but the channel isn’t in the actual lineup. Since TV was out, my only hope were Amazon or iTunes. Amazon doesn’t have digital downloads of Game of Thrones at all. iTunes teased me with the possibility of buying the first season, until I got to the last step in the purchasing process and was told that my Belgian iTunes account wasn’t allowed to buy this show. At that point, I felt like I was being quite thoroughly mocked.

Now, I haven’t gone on to get Game of Thrones via a torrent. I love the books and what little I’ve seen of the series, but I’m not so fannish about it that I feel a desperate need to watch it together with my US friends. The same goes for The Avengers. About three quarters of all the people I know online are going wild about it. I want to see it, very much, but it won’t be in Japanese cinemas until August.* Maybe I’ll still be fired up about it enough to want to see it on the big screen then, but maybe I’ll just wait until it shows up in iTunes, because my enthusiasm will probably have dampened quite a bit by then.

But while I’m just lukewarm enough about Game of Thrones and The Avengers to wait until they reach me in a legal way, I have used less than legal means to get my hands on certain other shows. I was in the fandoms of those other shows, and not watching the new canon content with my fellows would have made it incredibly hard for me to continue participating in those fandoms. Fans who are really, deeply invested in a show that’s broadcast only overseas aren’t going to get off the internet, let all the initial excitement pass them by, and wait for the DVD to come out in their country months later. That’s not how it works anymore. In my academic writing, I constantly have to remind myself to talk about “English-speaking fans” or “Japanese-speaking fans” when discussing online fandom, because it’s often impossible to draw any national lines. Limiting releases to certain regions of the world at certain times may have been doable in the past. But now that very many fans are on the internet, that sort of commercial strategy is seen as an annoyance that must be dealt with, lest it disrupt the smooth and happy functioning of the fandom. When a new piece of canon comes out, the first order of business is often to get everybody up to speed by spreading around downloads or streams of the new episode for those fans who couldn’t access the “main” broadcast for whatever reason. The content must flow, or the squee can’t commence.

I see just that happening with The Legend of Korra, which I wrote about before. Nickelodeon tries hard to interact closely with Korra fans: there’s an official Tumblr, there was a contest before the premiere that allowed fans to see the first two episodes early, and the network puts up a high-quality stream of every episode a day or so after it’s broadcast. However, those streams are region-locked, as were the contest reward episodes. Non-US fans can participate in the contests, but the fact that they have to be in the US to actually see their prizes is buried somewhere in the rulebook. For all its laudable efforts to connect with fans, Nickelodeon still ignores that many of the truly enthusiastic Korra fans it’s talking to via Facebook and Tumblr are not actually in the US, and that for them, too, the very point of watching media is to watch it together with others and share in the excitement. To be there when “it” happens.

Are people being too demanding? It’s certainly asking a lot for media companies to adapt to a “give everybody everywhere everything now” landscape. This environment is wildly different from what companies are used to, and it’s not surprising that it takes them a long time to find their place in it.

But fans who have those high expectations aren’t spoiled brats or entitled freetards. They just expect their commercial media to behave like the rest of the internet. It takes me only minutes to put a video online in a place where the whole world can see it and share it around. There are reasons why HBO or Nickelodeon don’t do the same, some of them very good reasons, but those reasons simply don’t make sense for internet users who notice that everything except their commercial media content is easily accessible.

After years of waiting for media companies to catch on and get used to YouTube, their failure to distribute things in a way that fits with how the rest of the internet works becomes more and more incomprehensible to their international customers. As Techdirt noted when Fox let “Touch” premiere in about 100 countries at the same time earlier this year, it’s rather mind-boggling that a show (one show!) being released simultaneously across much of the globe is cause for excitement in the year 2012. I understand what’s behind the decision to region-lock online Korra episodes, but that action still seems utterly daft to me. I can’t imagine that anyone at Nickelodeon honestly expected that fans wouldn’t unlock those episodes by any means necessary, so the fact that they locked them in the first place seems just annoying and pointless. People see that fansub groups can make and distribute a high-quality translation of an anime episode only days after it airs in Japan, and on a certain level, it makes no sense to them that commercial overseas anime distributors can’t provide the same speed and quality as a handful of amateurs. Yes, there are some good reasons for those delays, reasons that many internet users often don’t seem to get. But the reason they don’t get it is because they can’t imagine anymore where the problem might possibly lie. No amount of public education of the kind that copyright enforcement-oriented agencies keep clamoring for is going to make this situation look any less absurd to regular people on the internet.

Many have argued that in this day and age, it’s nonsense to release media with any sort of locks on them – among other reasons, because people will easily dodge those locks and learn nothing except that media companies like to annoy them. In the case of media companies trying to connect with international fans and persuade them to watch content legally, it may help if they kept in mind that people on the internet aren’t just a mass of individuals who each might decide start pirating at unpredictable moments for their own personal nefarious reasons. When and why an individual wants to watch a show enough to torrent it has a great deal to do with who they’re watching it with. Today, keeping a show inaccessible to parts of the world often means throwing a wrench (an easily removable but irritating wrench) into the social interactions of the very fans one is trying to court. It seems unrealistic to expect that people will have no problem with international release schedules that disrupt their most important socializing times, for no good reason they can discern.

(*Hollywood movies often seem to come many months late to Japan. I’m not an expert on the Japanese film or cinema business, so I don’t know why this is. My film-oriented colleages at university didn’t know either. Any information would be much appreciated.)

[META] How a fan sub battle is fought

Guest post by Mikhail Koulikov

I published a paper in the September 2010 volume of TWC that modeled the interaction between fan groups that create and distribute unauthorized, non-commercial translations of Japanese animation (‘anime’), and the for-profit companies that do the same under license from the original creators as a ‘net war’ (an emerging mode of conflict…, in which the protagonists use – indeed, depend on using – network forms of organization).

In my article, I highlighted several particular forms that these interactions have taken. In some cases, the for-profit companies have essentially ignored the fan group activities, for both strategic and tactical reasons. In others, they have taken specific actions, ranging from flat-out offensives such as issuing cease-and-desist letters, to adopting the fan groups’ skills and methods and hiring the fan translators to produce authorized translations, to appealing to audiences directly to educate them that access to anime is ‘not a right’ and that the interaction has to occur on commercial terms.

If you know where to look, over this past week, a major battle of this ‘net war’ has occurred.

Although the Japanese animation that most Americans are familiar with is major theatrical productions, such as the first Pokemon movie (1999, U.S. gross of $86M; $136M worldwide), or the Oscar-winning Spirited Away (2002), the vast majority of the anime that is actually released in the U.S. are television series. From the late 1980’s to the late 00’s, these were generally licensed, translated and then distributed on VHS and DVD by a small stable of specialized companies. Over the last couple of years, as the home video market essentially crashed, many of these have shut down. Several others, though, have been able to transform themselves into content management and distribution shops, with actual physical production of DVD’s being only one of their functions. The largest and most successful has been Funimation (a subsidiary of the Navarre Corporation, which according to its website, “provides computer software, home entertainment media, consumer electronics and accessories distribution, third party logistics, supply chain management and other related services for North American retailers and their suppliers.”).

Funimation’s current business model is based on acquiring the U.S. broadcast and distribution rights to a given Japanese animation series while the series is still in production. As soon as the series airs on Japanese television, Funimation is ready with an authorized translation (using the skills and services of former fan subbers now gone ‘official’); within hours of a Japanese television broadcast, English-subtitled episodes are made available on the proprietary Funimation.com website, as well as on several third-party sites (Animenewsnetwork.com, and Hulu.com, among others). Much later – usually, several months – Funimation releases the series on DVD, complete with a marketing campaign, English dub, various extras, and attractive packaging, to appeal to both the hard-core collectors and the casual watcher.

The hitch in all of this is that while Funimation and the other companies that are still operating in the field are pursuing their business models, fan groups are still pursuing theirs – the key difference, of course, being that while Funimation needs to pay licensing costs to acquire the rights to a series, pay their staff to translate and produce it, and then deal with distributors to actually get it to viewers, the fan sub groups may incur some expenses, but they are simply not thinking about revenues.

And so, we have a battle in the fan sub war.

Unlike in the U.S., the Japanese television broadcasting year is divided into four seasons, with new shows starting roughly in January, April, July and October. And every season sees the launch of a dozen or more new anime series. One that launched earlier this month, and was anticipated most eagerly, is Fractale – a fanciful story about a future where most humans choose to interact with each other using CG avatars, and a boy who decides not to, and navigates the avatars’ world in his own body. Fractale gained immediate “fan cred” by consciously referencing Hayao Miyazaki’s classic images, designs and settings; that the original story is written by the philosopher and literary critic Hiroki Azuma doesn’t hurt either.

The first episode of Fractale aired in Japan on January 13, and that same day, starting at 10:45 a.m. (CST), Funimation made a translation available on its website.

So far so good.

On January 19, the production committee that is the official copyright holder for the series informed Funimation that because unauthorized videos of the episode were available elsewhere on the Internet – on streaming sites, file-sharing networks, and file servers – it was requesting that Funimation suspend its authorized simulcast of any further episodes.

When the announcement was made public on the Anime News Network forums, it drew almost 400 comments. Speaking privately to both fans and industry professionals, though, it was clear that some perceived the situation as a rather typical instance of Japanese content-holders misunderstanding the American market. Others saw the entire situation as a well-designed attempt by the content-holders to act in an expected way. One fan comment described the situation thus: “Japanese company can look upset, Funimation can make public announcements about clamping down on unauthorized distribution. Then after a few days or a week they can then resume the simulcast and we go back to the status quo.”

In fact, it appears that this is exactly what has happened.

According to a statement that Funimation issued on Monday, January 24:

“In recent days we have been diligently tracking the online illegal distribution of the anime series Fractale and on behalf of the rights holders we have been taking the appropriate legal action. As a result, we now have the approval of the Fractale Production Committee to stream episode 2 of the series starting today.”

Will this resumption of streaming necessarily stop the fan sub groups? Probably not. But it serves as a good example of the delicate dance that takes place on a daily basis in a particular corner of the transformative works and cultures universe.