The minori controversy: are VN translators no better than narutards?


While unauthorized fan translations of copyrighted material are not a legal grey area (it's pitch black almost everywhere in the world, except in very limited special cases), I've usually agreed that some are worse than others. For example, people like Henry Jenkins have argued that anime fansubs, at some point at least, contributed to the emergence of a viable commercial market for anime in the US (and a case can be made that, nowadays, some of that is occurring in developing countries where no legit anime industry exists yet). In order to have a moral, if not a legal, leg to stand on, however, there are minimal standards of conduct that fan translators need to comply with: don't compete with an existing legal offer, don't profit financially from your illegal activities, don't put your dirty names in the staff roll as if you had a part in making the product, respect the creators and their demands, etc.

With respect to these ethical standards, the bottom of the pit is probably somewhere at the level of the American scanlators of Naruto, or even worse, of the ad-supported sites that host them. It's piracy in the vilest sense. And until now, I believed the other end of the spectrum to be visual novel translation: the people involved can claim with a semblance of truthfulness that they sincerely love the medium, that they're trying to promote it outside of Japan, that the current legally-translated offer is very limited and that they actually encourage their audience to buy the original products by only providing translation patches as opposed to complete translated games.

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