Greg Ayres, Scott VonSchilling, and Fansub Downloads

While reading Scott VonSchilling’s article on Greg Ayres and the Fight Against Fansubs, something stood out to me. First, I’ll have to say, I agree with Greg Ayres’s views on fansubbing, downloading anime, etc. Read Scott’s piece, and you’ll find he agrees with Ayres, too. Up to a point. Scott writes:

But there is one major point that [Greg Ayres and I] did not agree on, and it is the reason why I have personally downloaded fansubs for the past few years. Thanks to copy protection and the DMCA, it is illegal to watch any unlicensed show in the USA, even if one purchases it with his or her own money. This was not an issue when he was a teenager. He was able to easily import Laserdiscs without breaking any copyright law.

Scott says it’s illegal to watch an unlicensed show in the USA, and this is his reason to…illegally watch an unlicensed show. Let’s put aside what ones views are on the legality and morality of downloading. Maybe it’s because my view manages to be the same as Greg Ayres’s view. The money is going back to Japan, in one way or another, when buying a Japanese DVD. I also agree with Scott’s view about it being illegal either way. So, the question becomes, if it’s unlawful to purchase/watch a Japanese DVD in the USA, and it’s unlawful to download the show from the DVD, which do you do?

After the essay portion, Scott looks back on his views:

My work on this essay had me seriously thinking about my own reason for illegal downloading. I have made it well aware to my readers in the past that I know that people who were downloading fansubs were screwing over the industry for not buying the DVD, and that they should be ashamed of it. But I was using the reasoning of DRM and DMCA to justify downloading unlicensed series. Ayres’s immediate dismissal of the issue made me realize that my petty reason was just that – petty. I had no right to be stealing purely out of spite for unfair copyright laws. I was being completely hypocritical.

I applaud Scott for this revelation. Whether he justifies downloading anime or not, fine. However, if two methods are illegal, the only difference between them is the non-illegal part. Consider the following reasoning:

“It is illegal to watch the anime I pay for. Therefore, I will illegally watch the anime I do not pay for.”

Just like a math equation where you perform the same operation two the values on either side of an equals sign to solve for value X, you can subtract “illegal” from both sides, and it’s interesting what you find:

“.. watch the anime I pay for. … watch the anime I do not pay for.”

All things equal, Scott’s past reasoning boils down to arguing illegality as the reason to practice illegality.

I was being completely hypocritical.

For me, having Love Hina and Angelic Layer in my collection is a source of pride, if nothing else because I downloaded and watched these two series fansubbed back before they had DVD releases in the USA. They have since been released, and I own copies of them. I’ve repented. I’ve reconciled.

Scott continues.

… I’m honestly getting sick of sitting in front of my computer to watch these heavily compressed downloads. And in order to get to just these two series, I had to check out countless others only to discover that they were not worth my time at all. I’m burnt out on this stuff.

His first point here is one that will change in the future. Anime will be less and less compressed, and quality will be higher and higher. I’ve read pro-download rants about how downloads are higher quality that DVD releases these days. The second part is actually supportive of downloads, at least in a preview fashion, because it’s a lot harder to justify shelling out the price for a region two DVD release only to find you don’t like the series. My hope is that the former doesn’t act as a lure. I’ll have to leave a comment asking him about the latter.

I will not be a hypocrite anymore. From this point on, this anime blogger is going 100% legit and legal.

Bravo. This life isn’t the life for everyone, but it’s the life for me, and I’ve for a while now believed it had the potential to be the life for Scott VonSchilling. I say bravo not, however, because his actions will now mirror my own, but rather because he’s seen the hypocrisy in his views, and he’s made a correction. This could have been either a correction in his views or his behaviors, and either would have been acceptable. Still, I can preview the change he went with, even if he’s someone I’ll likely never encounter in person.

One Response to “Greg Ayres, Scott VonSchilling, and Fansub Downloads”

  1. Scott Says: