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Minori’s Unique Approach to Combating Piracy – Work with the Pirates!


The anime and manga (and related) industries have always had an uneasy relationship with fansubbers — the people that take their works and release fan-made translations of them in non-Japanese languages.  While technically illegal, most companies have traditionally turned a blind eye toward these groups, realizing that their actions help spread the popularity of their product.  Some companies have even openly acknowledged (but not necessarily gave their support to) the efforts of fansubbers; for example, in the promotional video for The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, Kadokawa and Bandai specifically thanked fansub watchers and asked them to purchase the official release.  Unfortunately, as of late, there are an increasing number of companies that have gone the opposite route, decrying and vilifying the fansub community, actively monitoring the activities of fansubbers and people who download fansubs and sending them takedown notices.  Some have even gone so far as to take legal action against fansubbers.  We talked at great length about this in a recent episode of the podcast.

Well, one company has taken a rather unique and (IMHO) refreshing approach to the matter — actually working with the pirates!!! (Shocking, I know.)  Minori, the Japanese visual novel company famous for such titles as Wind – A Breath of Heart and Ef: A Fairy Tale of the Two (both of which have been adapted into rather successful anime franchises), discovered that the fansub group No Name Losers (NNL) was working on an unauthorized translation of Ef.  Like most tales, this one started with them sending out a cease and desist letter.  But unlike most C&D’s, Minori added an interesting little “extra” at the end of theirs:

If you wish to obtain an official license from us, handle the ratings issue, follow our requested procedures and sell and/or distribute [our software] within English-speaking circles, then there is the possibility of your visiting our office and discussing with us a license agreement. We would look forward to people following the proper procedure for getting things done.

Well, it must have worked, because on July 14, Minori posted the following on their website:

Starting on July 14, 2010, we at minori have started constructive negotiations with the people at NO NAME LOSERS. We don’t know what will result from this, but we would like to report our results to everyone in the not-too-distant future. For now, please wait for the time being. Thanks.

They apparently sent a proposal to NNL on July 17, with a response deadline of July 21; however, NNL sent their response ahead of the deadline.

Unfortunately, as one report points out, it’s highly unlikely that NNL could come up with the money to pay the (no doubt large) licensing fee; however, it’s still encouraging to see a company that is willing to sit down with “the little guy” instead of squashing him under their bootheels.  Really, both sides here deserve a lot of credit; Minori, for being willing to face their sworn enemies and work with them, instead of taking the usual knee-jerk legal action; and NNL, for being willing to sit down with “The Man(TM)” and work things out, instead of being idiots and mouthing off at them. (They also took their website down and have apparently ceased distributing their fan translation, in compliance with the C&D letter.)

Here’s hoping that other companies sit up and take notice!

2 comments to Minori’s Unique Approach to Combating Piracy – Work with the Pirates!

  • dork at large

    It’s been a few months since this was posted. And now it seems that No Name Losers and Minori are officially working together for an official translation of Ef. This game will be published by Mangagamer.

    • Wow, thanks for the update. Definitely the right way to handle things, and it’s really refreshing to see it go down this way. They’ve actually entered into a 3-way partnership between Minori, NNL, and MangaGamer, who is an already established distributor of translated visual novels. Which makes sense, since a fansub group most likely doesn’tt have the resources and infrastructure to handle distribution, and this way Minori doesn’t have to put out money and energy to create a US distribution arm).

      Also it looks like (from the wording of the press release) they may be partnering up for other titles down the line, not just Ef. Enters Partnership with Minori Inc. and No Name Losers (Updated)

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