Wednesday, August 09, 2006

New York Times discovers fansubbing

This story deals with Chinese fans of American TV shows who download them using Bittorrent and similar programs, quickly create Chinese subtitles, and make them available to Chinese audiences who otherwise wouldn't get to see them at all or would only see heavily censored versions.

American fans of Japanese anime and manga have done this for a while; see Jordan Hatcher, Of Otakus and Fansubs: A Critical Look at Anime Online in Light of Current Issues in Copyright Law, 2 Script-ED 551 (2005); Sean Kirkpatrick, Like Holding a Bird: What the Prevalence of Fansubbing Can Teach Us About the Use of Strategic Selective Copyright Enforcement, 21 Temple Environmental Law and Technology Journal 131 (2003); and Sean Leonard, Celebrating Two Decades of Unlawful Progress: Fan Distribution, Proselytization Commons, and the Explosive Growth of Japanese Animation, UCLA Entertainment Law Review, SSRN version here.

Are the Chinese fansubbers' acts more acceptable because they fight actual censorship of sex and violence, whereas the American fansubbers were merely fighting market failures?

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