Erica Friedman, your questions have been answered.
Earlier this week, the founder of ALC Publishing (a GLBT-themed manga publisher) posted her musings about how the problem of fighting manga scanlation piracy could be solved. In short and apparently after two months of thinking about it, Friedman concluded that that someone with more money and more brainpower than she does needs to come up with a publishing model which allows the community to have its say in what gets translated, how it gets translated, how it gets published (digital only or also in print) and still be able to pay the creator (or his/her original publishing house) for the rights to translate the original Japanese into whichever language they want.
Apparently, over in the man-on-man side of the manga world, Jennifer LeBlanc at The Yaoi Review.com dug around a little and discovered that a Japanese manga publisher is doing exactly that:
[Digital Manga Publishing] is working on a new ‘secret’ project for publishing more manga faster and cheaper than it is now. It would be via a digital format and they are looking to hire scanlators to help with this. Essentially, scanlators would be doing what they do now except there is the possibility of getting paid based on the sales of said manga titles they worked on. They also get to have their name on everything they translate and retain certain rights to the work they do. What rights I do not know. There is also the possibility of becoming a paid translator ‘if qualified’ and you’d be ahead of the pack when it comes to any other candidates that applied for the position.
Today, Anime News Network confirmed the details in LeBlanc’s blogpost, adding that DMP would start this program off with the “boys love” genre and gauging its viability before moving into other genres and novels.
Personally speaking, I think part of this is brilliant because crowdsourcing does seem to be the “new” way of getting things done and giving consumers a say in what they purchase. By giving the scanlator circles a bit of legitimacy, it takes away the “cool” factor in choosing the pirated works and also would make the scanlators want to work on the official material because, hey, they’re finally getting paid and recognized for their work!
Of course, if I were part of one of these manga scanlator circles, I’d demand to see a contract first and to have it vetted by a lawyer who’s familiar with international law because there’s nothing that would suck more than being screwed over by a work-for-hire contract.
I hope that the folks at DMP will be able to say more at the summer anime/manga convention panels.
Related Posts: Comic Non-Sans: Learning from Online Manga Scanlations