Last month, Japan’s Research Institute of Economy (RIETI) released a startling paper. It argued that Internet piracy in Japan boosted sales rather than hampered them. So for a moment everyone who ever defended Internet piracy, that’s basically half the Internet, felt vindicated – especially yours truly. I was pretty much dancing the Charleston like I was in a Peanuts strip.
Of course, reality sets in and you actually read the fine print. This is what The Angry Otaku did and found out the details. And so I was sad again. (Not really)
So what’s the point about me blogging on this? This seems like an open-shut case. There’s not much more I can say about it. The guy is totally right. The sale cultures of Japanese anime in Japan and America are completely opposite of each other, and the issue of American’s having to pirate first and buy later leads to making the entire paper moot in an American context (and, for that matter, anywhere but Japan).
Leeching fans can do no better than to sit around and complain on their blogs using a flawed sense of logic.
Perhaps then, it’s time to look into this issue seriously. If a professor at Keio University in Japan can research about Youtube’s effect on piracy, and an undergrad otaku can write a thesis on little girls that shoot laser beams, then there can be a serious academic look into the nature of piracy and anime in America; if there is any, I haven’t seen it.
But to be completely frank about it, I’ll continue to argue that whatever the people in the suits understand or can’t understand about “the youtube” and its overall effect on the sale of media, the basic argument stands that information wants to be free, and that markets need to wake up and realize that the effects need to be studied closely to work out a feasible business plan for the future.
It may be time that anime distributors and studios in Japan would do well to realize that a potentially big series need to be marketed globally, not just to their domestic audience. Or, in other cases, the rights to stream shows also lends to a positive direction. As with the Fractale Fracas, the key should be to limiting damages, not aggravating them. What’s out is hard to control, and despite Funimation’s recent arbitrary scare tactic in suing 1337 pirates for pirating their pirate anime, such course of action is not possible unless the show is licensed in the U.S.
If the Japanese anime industry wants to expand across the world and at the same time reduce their losses to pirates, just pointing fingers and telling people to stop pirating isn’t enough. They’ll have to set up a good preventative plan as much as an offensive one, one that takes into account an international game plan. As they say, play big or go home.
Though, to be completely honest, I would wish people be so kind as to purchase the media they consume. It would otherwise be unfortunate that people, who really do deserve the money they would otherwise be receiving, would be starving.
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Tomo Hirai is a Shin-Nisei Japanese American lesbian trans woman born in San Francisco and raised in Walnut Creek, Calif., where she continues to reside. She attended the San Francisco Japanese Hoshuko (supplementary school) through high school and graduated from the University of California, Davis with degrees in Communications and Japanese, along with a minor in writing. She serves as a diversity consultant for table top games and comic books in her spare time.