Here’s a good OP to listen to while reading this stuff.
Guorbatschow came through an interesting text (thanks to Necrophagia that often talks with us in the IRC) in anonymous form, most likely reliable, about MangaHelpers wanting to propose something to Viz Media.
You can keep yourself updated by following my tweets.
Viz Media is, for who doesn’t know, the official releaser of Hayate no Gotoku, and most likely future releaser of some of our other mangas. I am safe to say that, if it wasn’t for FoOlRulez, they’d get near to no selling for this manga, because Hayate was falling in unpopularity ever since one year ago, and the anime as well, catch up with their official scanlations. We’re like aperitifs for their buyers.
What’s MangaHelpers doing? Here’s the letter: http://freetexthost.com/0mx2pnuhpw
Nobody wants to read? I’ll explain. MangaHelpers wants to ask Viz to collaborate, because they both “work for the love of manga”. Note that both groups make money, lots of money. I perfectly know what’s the ad revenue for big websites like MangaHelpers. Now, it’s not exactly clear whan MH wants to do, but they’re kinda hinting it one of the last paragraphs.
For what I understood, they want to monetize our work.
Viz gets direct influence and control over the 3rd party market by teaming up with a reputable, stable and well liked online resource such as us, and we get to work with, develop and help promote something every one of us has a genuine passion and appreciation for. We have many valuable resources to offer; from global exposure and marketing possibilities to business models (advertisement sponsored, subscription, and microtransaction based digital distribution of online manga) that could potentially give Viz a very large newfound revenue source, to the hundreds of (professional) translators and image cleaners/typesetters who already publish their work at MangaHelpers for free; there are lots of possibilities and potential business ventures to be found. We even have the web framework for distribution and publishing of fanlations in place!
It just sounds like they want to use our scanlations to gain money for themselves. Not like they didn’t before with ads, but this could be somewhat different. What about adding advertising to our credits (“advertisement sponsored”), pay per view (“subscription”) or pay per chapter (“microtransaction based digital distribution of online manga”). And which are the means used? “[...]give Viz a very large newfound revenue source, to the hundreds of (professional) translators and image cleaners/typesetters who already publish their work at MangaHelpers for free”.
What are they doing is, selling us?
The only ones I’d sell our work to is the official publisher itself, and that’s through a freelance job paying everyone working a fair amount. We are after all, “(professional) translators and image cleaners/typesetters”, all of us in FoOls crew have inhuman skills, and, for our own pride, we wouldn’t like to work but for publishing for free or working through official systems.
There shouldn’t be money directly involved in our “gray area”. We, scanlators, are the only who really work for the pure love of manga, by losing 18-24 hours of work on every chapter per team and asking for nothing beside a “thanks”, that often doesn’t show up. We also pay our expensive servers, a damn lot, and we hardly get enough from ads to pay that off, to satisfy our need to host our own product, as well as a wiki, a proofing reader, a subforum, and, eventually, Google Wave… and much more.
I feel bitter about all of this.
El provided us with the documents that MangaHelpers shared with Viz media, the “Business plan”. You can download it from this link El provided us [http://www.megaupload.com/?d=KCZT9HR8] or you can read it in our manga reader since it’s made of images.
If you like looking behind the scenes: http://www.jcafe24.net/index.php?topic=13068.25
You should refer to what guorbatschow said in this comment in order to get the gist of what’s actually happening. What did I see… well, see it yourself:
MangaHelpers’ response. I must say I feel offended, because a group doing nothing but publishing (sorry to say, in front of the job of a single group even, it is little, and in front of all the scanlation panorama, it’s meaningless) is talking like they had power upon scanlators, when, in truth, their power in the place is very low. Instead of feeling blessed of having a popular website in which people cares to put their production, they behave like they had grip on our material.
This is also why, I think, they should clean their database of mangas before changing their policy: I never agreed with them selling my stuff.
Even more, they talk about a Crunchyroll system, when they probably don’t know that Crunchyroll is fairly different than what they probably imagine: it’s a group working still in the gray area, they’re not legal. They’re popular since a big group not related with licensing of anime decided to buy the website and sell amatorial production that people can anyway get through secondary means. (I am not so sure about this either now) Also, calling Crunchyroll material of a higher quality is another offense, this time to incredible fansubbers like Eclipse speedsubs.
I feel like this is going obviously against the ideals that scangroups have: collaboration, being in a cozy group sometimes, enjoying the thanks of the people… and adds money and another step between the manga and the reader.
As stated by the MangaHelpers admins, they wouldn’t use the database of manga they have now, as they would first ask for permissions and all that comes with it.