Robot 6

Ken Akamatsu invites downloaders to do penance for their sins

Image from Akamatsu's announcement, presumably of a guilty party

It’s Lent, the time of penance and atonement, and manga creator Ken Akamatsu (Love Hina, Negima) is inviting file-sharers to purify their purloined manga. Anime News Network has helpfully translated his message of hope, which was originally posted in Japanese.

Akamatsu has been experimenting with online manga, and last year he launched a Japanese comics site called J-Comi that features out-of-print manga, including his own Love Hina. Akamatsu has gotten some of the big publishers to play along, but in Japan, the creators often hold the digital rights and they get to call the shots.

Now he has come up with an interesting twist that combines his business plan with private expiation of guilt: He asks readers who have downloaded manga illegally through file-sharing services such as Winny to forward the files to him. (Reassuringly, he says, “everyone has done this at least once.”) Interestingly, he also asks people who merely know of such files to go ahead and download them and send them to him. Akamatsu and his crew will contact the creators, and if they get the go-ahead, insert ads and post the files on J-Comi. All the ad revenue will go directly to the creator, J-Comi gets the benefit of the added content, and the downloader stop feeling guilty and start sleeping better.

If the creators don’t choose to play along, of course, nothing will change:

“However, if the creators do not give their OK, the files will be abandoned and the files will continue to drift through hell (Winny). Perhaps forever….”

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One Comment

Nice idea, and an interesting approach to reach out to readers on the other side of the tracks, but not sure about the “if you don’t sign up with us to give your content away w/some ads, your work will just keep being given away in a hellish nighmare of piracy” part. I wonder if it was translated oddly, as it seems more of a jab against reluctant creators.

The other thing- Out of print manga seems to be a big market for legit digital markets like Cellphone and CD Japan’s pay-for-download site, and creators seem to get a big cut out of it, given how much of a royalty many demand for digital editions here- they do that because that market’s existed in Japan for awhile, and they know how much they have to ask for to make decent money. Keep in mind that it’s not about english scanlations, it’s about japanese language manga that has multiple digital venues creators can license their content to- it’s a very different market in Japan itself.

I imagine this will be a good option for those who want to do it (it seems to involve less middlemen, which will appeal to some), but odd that he’d take a slant against those who might not (different business plans work for different people- there’s no one size fits all to selling/distributing comics). It’s a good thing overall though, and I hope Japanese creators contibue to grow more outspoken about this stuff.

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