(I initially wrote much of this article back in March 2010, but held off on publishing it due to never receiving permission to re-publish an e-mail. I have decided to just go ahead with it. It helps set things in context, and is a great lead-in to some extra commentary based on some recent forum posts.)
We have shared stories like this before, where another website simply lifted the entire content of a major Daizenshuu EX feature (including hot-linked images and all). It is the Internet — we expect this on a daily basis. In fact, the darn thing even works in the first place because content is re-purposed and shared. Information wants to be free, right?
This was an interesting one, though. It is not as black-and-white as the example linked above. In fact, one could argue that Daizenshuu EX is the one at fault for not taking advantage of the different mediums and outlets. All of these different ways to communicate and get the message out are right there, so why not use them?
Let me explain.
Back in February I received an e-mail from a regular visitor who was concerned. I have removed some identifying information about the visitor from the e-mail below, as well as named-references to the source he is referring to (though I will ultimately “out” them later in the article):
I am one of your many fans who uses your website Daizenshuu EX (along with Kanzentai) to get news on what is occurring in the Dragon World. I am also a podcast listener. Since I support your work, I feel the need to at least inform you of a certain individual who is plagiarizing your work on YouTube and becoming popular for it (and of course, no credit is given to Daizex). You may already know and not care, but just in case you do care about someone stealing your information almost word-for-word and being credited and praised for it, I’ll give you the info.
It is a YouTuber named “(name redacted)“. I believe he is a member of your forums going under the guise of another username, but I cannot say anything in this regard because I have no proof. He is known for his DBZ news and has rapidly grown to have almost 2,000 subscribers, which is a lot of people who use him for DBZ news, and a lot of people who should be getting it from your site. (URL redacted)
Now, if you watch a lot of his videos you will notice that they are complete rip-offs of your website updates. Take for example, (URL redacted) . If you watch this, you will notice that it’s just an almost copy & paste of all the info from your website that you posted a few days ago.
Unfortunately, MY BEST PROOF he has deleted because I actually posted a comment on the video talking about it and he removed the video before I could write this email. It was a video copying your “Additional FUNimation Cast Changes” post, BUT, one thing that I noticed is that he misinterpreted the words YOU wrote: “As a minor aside, it is fascinating to be simultaneous talking about voice recastings for both the Japanese and English side of the franchise. It feels like conversations from ten years ago (the shift from Ocean Studios to an in-house FUNimation cast) have resurfaced in a tiny way!”
He thought you were talking about a possible UK release for the DBZKai series and made a video saying that, copying the text I have displayed to you in this email and talking about it. Then, when I told him he was ripping-off Daizex and also that he got the info you wrote wrong, he deleted it. His latest video (as of 3:40 PM EST Feb 16th) (URL redacted) is the only proof I have that I am telling the truth. If you watch this video, he even admits his misinterpretation and that he did make a video.
I wouldn’t even report this to you if he was a nobody, but he is very popular; his videos have thousands of views and as mentioned earlier he almost has 2000 subscribers. And you will find no credit to Daizex ANYWHERE on his channel. I personally do not believe it is fair for you to put a lot of effort in informing and entertaining the Dragon Ball fanbase for “(name redacted)” to take advantage of it and become popular.
The first thing I did as I watched some of the videos was chuckle and take cheap shots at all of the mis-spellings. I suppose admitting I did such right here in the blog post is an extension of that cheap shot, but hey… did you expect anything less from me?
It is quite the interesting situation. Sure enough, if you watch the videos, they are essentially date-for-date and word-for-word reprises of the news updates over on Daizenshuu EX.
The big question to ask is — what’s wrong with that?
Earlier in the post I noted it may be our own damn fault for not taking advantage of the medium — if the audience is on YouTube, why are we not there to take advantage of them and provide them with valuable content in their home territory? Shame on us. People expect the news to be pushed to them wherever they are most comfortable.
(The answer is that I can barely find the time these days to do all it is that I already do, never mind produce video features of each news post!)
In the prior post about the website feature, I noted how you could spin it in a positive way — people were discovering content (and in this case, news) that they otherwise would never have encountered (OK, maybe they eventually would have…). They were reading my words and my feelings. More people than before were doing so. In at least an indirect way, Daizenshuu EX was being imprinted upon the masses! How is that not a plus…?!
You can look at it from the protective side, though, as our e-mail author clearly did… and they’re not even the ones making the darn website updates that are being “stolen” (that our visitors feel so protective and full of honor for the site gives me a feeling resembling joy I think). There is a somewhat “creepy” feeling having your words regurgitated back at you with no attribution. It is pretty disingenuous of this YouTube user to go making update after update, video after video, and never citing their source. That’s just lazy, if not completely amateurish. Don’t they think something is a little weird about that? Lifting so much content and not saying where they first learned about it?
It got more interesting just this week when a completely separate fan posted up a thread on our message board about it. Apparently this content-lifting-individual (or is it a group?) is no longer happy to just copy-and-paste updates into YouTube videos, and instead are running a larger, more traditional website. This is when I start scratching my head a little more. I am not sure how I feel about it.
It is at this point that I do not particularly care sharing the identity of these folks. It is definitely worth it to really showcase the extent they are going to.
You have an update of theirs like this one announcing the inclusion of Plan to Eradicate the Super Saiyans in Raging Blast 2. The translation of the scan is verbatim copied-and-pasted from Kanzentai, while the image the bottom (with our standard blue border and drop shadow) is ours from Daizenshuu EX — they could have clicked through to the source link (which I provided) and grabbed the original, full-sized image instead of using my tiny, formatted one. Only the former object is credited… and to be honest, I did not even see that credit at first. The news is not our own, but certainly the translation of it is, and to a much lesser extent, the formatting on the image is… well, that’s something.
Head on over to this update of theirs with a gallery of ten animation shots from Plan to Eradicate the Super Saiyans. To be fair, these ten shots were released by Namco-Bandai to their press partners (of which Daizenshuu EX is one) for free distribution and promotion. Take a look at the file names this group used, though: assets_20100821_animation_10.jpg, and so on. Head on over to the respective “Tidbit” page on Daizenshuu EX, and without looking, take a wild guess at what file naming standard I re-named them all with before posting.
I will let you in on one of our big, dark, pompous, egotistical, hilarious secrets — we absolutely love it when people, especially begrudgingly, have to visit Daizenshuu EX and Kanzentai for news. OK, it is not actually as mean in my head as it sounds when it gets written out like that. The truth of the matter is, both Heath and I (as well as our cohorts!) work incredibly hard to keep up-to-date with the news. We have our regular sources. We have our regular searches. We have worked our way into a position where sometimes news finds us. Honestly, unless you are another DragonBall fansite that has been around at least as long as Kanzentai (never mind Daizenshuu EX) and have the clout to leverage your position, you are ultimately stuck in a endless game of catch-up with us. That is not to say that someone could not come along in a couple years and upset the balance of “power” (for lack of a better phrase), but for the time being… we are it. If you want to know (in English) what is going on with the franchise, you either come to us, or indirectly find out from us via some other source.
Another source like this “Saiyan Team”.
(There is something to be said for news of a different “type”, though. There are other awesome sites out there like DragonNews who cover more fandom-related things than we do, and with an international twist. At the end of the day, though, with the franchise being of Japanese origin, any significant “news” comes out of Japan — and since we focus on the Japanese version of the franchise, well, guess where the majority of the news is being broken…?)
So what is the deal here? Are we just too protective of our own second-hand-generated content? I mean, it’s not like we were the ones who announced such-and-such product. We have broken some exclusive news before, but we certainly do not do it on a daily basis.
Maybe they are just some punk 16-year-old kid first getting into this whole “content creation” thing online. I know I sure had no idea what the accepted rules of society were when I first got into this back in 1998.
What I find most fascinating about the whole ordeal is that example where they removed a video after being called out on completely misinterpreting (some pretty clearly written) words in a news post. They back-peddled on the whole situation. They admitted fault in doing so. Any normal person, at that point, would probably sit back and re-evaluate what the heck they are doing. Yet here we are half a year later, and now their website updates are simply being copied word-for-word.
So I am opening up the discussion. What do you all think about this? Is there anything wrong with what this YouTube user is doing, taking advantage of an open space that we do not have the time to jump into? Quite clearly this is a very self-selected audience that is almost guaranteed to support me, but I definitely would not be opposed to some differing thoughts… because, honestly, I am not entirely sure how I even feel about it.
Hell, for all I know, the person responsible for the videos and site is reading this blog. It is not so far-fetched. All I ask is that, when you run to the comments, you keep it civil and intelligent. I wouldn’t expect anything less of you all, but I suppose I just feel the need to say that, anyway!