TNP: THE subtitles were tweaked because of Singapore's censorship laws.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

THE subtitles were tweaked because of Singapore's censorship laws.

That's one of the reasons why subtitles on some of its anime series are not accurate, said managing director Peter Go of local anime distributor Odex.

Anime fans have long criticised Odex's products saying they are inaccurately subtitled.

He was speaking at a press conference to announce the support of the Japanese copyright owners in its appeal against its case against Pacific Internet.

It has successfully obtained court orders to force SingNet and StarHub to reveal alleged illegal downloaders' identities, but its case against Pacific Internet was thrown out of court.

The company, which began a widespread crackdown on illegal anime downloading in May, has got flak from netizens for the quality of its anime subtitling.

Netizens have posted screen captures of illegal anime fansubs (fan-subtitled anime), comparing their subtitles to those on Odex's 'inaccurately subtitled' anime releases.

But why the discrepancy?

Mr Go said the subtitles of certain anime series had to be tweaked to conform with the Board of Film Censors' requirements.

He cited the example of popular anime series Fruits Basket, which contained content deemed too risque.

'We need to abide by the board's regulations - the series cannot have certain religious connotations, be too violent or touch on issues like homosexuality,' he said.

So Odex had no choice but to tweak the themes slightly.

In an earlier interview with The New Paper, Mr Go said that in response to the escalating popularity of fansubs relative to Odex products, the company decided to hire fansubbers (or fans who subtitle illegal copies of anime) to do subtitling work for their products.

But that backfired after fansubbers turned in sub-standard work, with inaccurate translations and grammatical errors.

At a press conference yesterday, Mr Go and Odex director Stephen Sing stood by the quality of their DVDs, which they say local anime focus groups have trouble distinguishing from the same titles released in Japan.

The main reason for its loss of more than 60 per cent of its sales since 2005, it says, is rampant illegal downloading here.

According to data collected by BayTSP, the US company hired by Odex to identify the IP addresses of illegal anime downloaders, Singapore has the highest per capita rate - one in 10 - of illegal anime downloading in the world.

Odex has used this data in its ongoing attempt to get local ISPs to reveal the identities of those identified by BayTSP as illegal downloaders.

Yesterday, Japanese copyright owners, including Media International Corporation, Toei Animation Enterprises Ltd and TV Tokyo Medianet Co Ltd gave Odex letters of authorisation, granting it permission to act on their behalf against illegal downloaders.

Representatives of the Japanese companies said they were prepared to act individually in support of Odex's appeal if the court required them to do so.

Said Mr Yukio Kawasaki, manager of the content business division of TV Tokyo Corporation: 'The best way to solve the problem (of illegal downloading) is through our licensees in each country.

'This is because the licensees can take action quickly. In this case, Odex is a very important partner to us.'

May Odex cracks down on illegal anime downloaders

2 Aug The New Paper reports 9-year-old among those who got letters from Odex

15 Aug Odex director flamed, threatened online

23 Aug Judge denies Odex PacNet subscriber details

Yesterday Odex brings in Japanese to help

Odex to have video-on-demand

IN an attempt to stem the tide of illegal downloading, Odex will offer video-on-demand anime on its website from next week.

This move, Odex directors say, will bring new anime to fans more quickly, allowing them to watch episodes as soon as one week after they are broadcast in Japan.

Said director Stephen Sing: 'We are hoping to be able to release episodes simultaneously with Japan, but there are logistical issues which have to be worked out.'

Such issues include making sure that the anime available on Odex's website - generally in Windows Media Video (WMV) format - are fully copyright protected with digital rights management technologies.

Managing director Peter Go said this was crucial to prevent these videos from being copied illegally.

The company is also working towards same-day broadcasts of selected anime titles on local TV.