The draft business proposal and news post caught a lot of attention. There were quite a lot of valid questions brought forward, but also a lot of rumors that got carried away. To dispel some of those and give everyone a better understanding of what we're trying to achieve here, let's see if we can't help clarify some of the common questions.
First of all, we'd just like to reiterate that any and all plans are tentative only
at this point. No deals have been made, not even official talks have happened, so please don't start panicking and deleting material. The draft business proposal iterates some of our hopes
for the future, but is in no way final.
- Are you really planning to charge people to download manga or use the online reader?
These details are still up in the air at this point, and the subscriptions plan as outlined in the draft business plan is only one possibility.
- Possibility #1 - Free online viewing supported by ads.
Both the Publisher's official version and fan scanlations will be able to be read online along with ads, which is exactly how it currently is. The only difference is the official version (with a professional translator) is now also available to be read. The ad revenue will go towards both maintaining MH's site as well as paying the publishers. This is an easy way to support the publishers as well as being able to compare the different versions.
- Possibility #2 - Subscriptions
A subscription system, as seen in the proposal, where people would pay an amount to download/read a certain number of chapters. This, of course, is not recommended due to the negative feedback from you guys.
- Possibility #3 - Free online viewing with ads and subscriptions
The site will run exactly as it is, with read online being supported with ads. However, subscriptions would be offered as well -- either as monthly, bimonthly, half-yearly or yearly memberships, or pay-to-download memberships for a certain number of chapters.
Benefits for subscribing could include:
- Uncapped bandwidth (Faster downloads)
- Access from mobile phones
- Discounts on physical copies and more.
- Is MH going the way of Tazmo and other sites, planning to sell our free scanlations without our consent?
- Sites that charge a fee for illegal downloads
- Scanlations are made of any series, licensed or unlicensed, without any agreement of the original author or publisher.
- Scanlations are collected from all over the web.
- Scanlations are uploaded without seeking permissions from the groups.
- Downloads are financed via a forced paid subscription.
- The money earned by these subscriptions is going entirely into the website owner's wallet.
- However you look at it: It's an illegal process, from the scanlating itself up to the method of distribution.
- What we're trying to achieve:
- A huge selection of titles, neglected by international publishers, which are allowed to be scanlated legally in cooperation with the Japanese copyright holders.
- Scanlations are contributed voluntarily by the groups, and not taken without their permission.
- Costs and licenses are covered by an optional choice: most likely ads or pay-per-release.
- The money is going directly to the publishers and therefore indirectly to the original author, just as with any other legal manga distribution.
- Because of the joint efforts of both publishers and groups, the whole process is completely legal.
If you still have problems seeing what we're trying to achieve, please have a look at Netcomics. It's a similar concept but missing the factor that scanlations groups contribute the releases which would make use of the best release resource on the internet: the fans.
- Are the people who have released here in the past in any legal danger? Read: do I need to start removing my translations, scanlations, and raws now?
Until the moment the system changes, older releases will not be affected in any way. Those are not part of the release contract we're trying to archive. I think it's obvious that legal and illegal content can't both be present on the same website.
Similarly to Crunchyroll, the groups will be informed of the specific date of the system change as soon as we know it, and will be given enough time to backup their data before we have to remove them.
- Why are you working with Viz and not directly with the Japanese publishers?
It's not true that we're only planning to work with Viz on this -- we're also talking with some of the original publishers as well. The eventual goal is to get as many publishers on board as possible, but we need to start somewhere.
- Are all of the series but the "official" ones going to disappear from MH? What about the international releases?
As we try to get this up and running, we'll certainly start out with a small selection of titles. So a lot will have to vanish from MH in the beginning, but we hope that many can be added later on when publishers see that the concept works. Again, the end goal is to gradually work with as many publishers as possible; so publishers maintaining exclusive international rights would fall under that category as well.
- How much control will the publishers have over the site and the releases themselves?
As talks haven't yet begun, the details are all still up for negotiation.
- Are you planning to go after other illicit manga distribution sites once MH becomes legal, in an attempt to shut them down?
It's not our intent to harm the community, nor do we want to force anything on people. However, the recent interaction with Kodansha has shown that publishers are willing to request their Intellectual Property removed, which is a loss for everyone. This just serves as a testament to the fact that a preemptive move to work with the publishers is a good thing for everyone, rather than facing continued shutdown.
We never intended for this to sound like a witch hunt. While we wouldn't actively seek out sites to take them down, we would try and reason with people and try to get everyone working together, fans and publishers, and put the focus back on the appreciation of the series you love. It's our opinion that it's in everyone's best interest to take advantage of such a possibility, not to fight it.
- Are we being asked to scanlate for free while the publishers/MH pocket the profits?
To be honest, we haven't completely figured out how this is going to work, which is the reason we hadn't asked the community at large for their thoughts - we need to talk to the publishers first and see how they feel about our idea. One of our ideas behind the whole proposal is that the publishers will provide the resources for you to use (i.e., no costs for buying tanks/magazines to scan) and the groups will simply do what they already do. The benefit to the groups is that they would now legally be allowed to do so. Not only that, but as fans, they would be benefiting the original author through work that they have been doing for free all along. As of now, scanlations steal from the publisher. Through this deal, we'd instead be giving back.
Another benefit to this proposal is that the costs to produce manga would be greatly reduced, thus making the online versions much cheaper than purchasing the official book. If your work is of extremely high quality, you could even get hired by the company and start making money then, but only as per their agreement. Our ideas contain other benefits such as discounts for active contributors, but, seeing how all of this is not concrete in any way, we're evaluating all possible options and will try to make a very convincing agreement to present to the publishers. If you have any more ideas or suggestions, feel free to let us hear them.
- Finally, what about what I've contributed, do you plan on using it without my permission?
This site is different than most, as in - we do not add any of your releases. You personally add your releases because they are your work. Your work, your rights. We've shown throughout the lifetime of this site that we respect your rights, and that will never change. For those concerned about deleting their releases, you've always had the ability to do so through your group's admin panels, and that's 100% your choice. You can also contact us for account deletion if you feel it necessary.
Any account-related matters should be discussed via PM as they will be deleted if they are posted in the comments.