The Hidden Cost of Scanlation for Boys’ Love Artists
Artists around the world speaking out against translations and uploads done without permission.
On March 3, 2020, Boys’ Love (BL) artist Hatoko Machiya released on Twitter an official statement regarding the scanlations of her manga. Nearly all of Machiya’s works, including Orokamono Wangel Night, Chotto Matte yo Hanaya-san, Koi to wa Yobenai, have been translated without permission and illegally uploaded to manga aggregator websites.
An Important Note About Scanlation of My Work. pic.twitter.com/ngrTKgqcQM
— 町屋はとこ (@machiyahatoko) March 3, 2020
Why do artists speak out against scanlation?
While many people tend to create scanlations with good intentions, scanlations can cause unintended consequences for artists. For artists like Machiya, people have taken her paywalled work, translated them, and uploaded them on manga aggregator websites. Aggregator websites earn money from ads on their website, and some have recently offered subscriptions to the content they do not own. These websites “aggregate” or scape the internet for manga to place it all on website. Income from these websites hosting scanlations are not sent back to the artist, translators, or publishers who created the manga and instead go back to the website operators.
Though Machiya’s work brings page views and ad revenue to the aggregator websites, Machiya does not receive compensation for her work despite being read and consumed by readers.
It is not the first time an artist has spoken out against the uploading of their works without permission. Mikoto Kurachi, an independent BL manga artist featured on futekiya, posted her sentiments on Twitter when she discovered her manga colored and uploaded to a video sharing platform without her knowledge in November 2019. Said video had gained more views than where her manga could be purchased.
I’m very sad …because I found my comics uploaded without permission.. Colored without permission…
And she shows in video how to upload my comics illegally. My manga is printed and chopped for scanning.
I really want you to stop…
— Kurachi／くらち (@kurachipsE) November 13, 2019
Though many create scanlations out of love artists, some artists do not view it as an act of love. Rather, scanlations can be an act that removes an artist’s agency and gives aggregator website operators content to monetize.
The impact of scanlation and illegal uploads outside of Japan
This experience is not limited to Japanese artists. Korean manwha and webcomic creators have also tried to fight against illegal uploading of their works on aggregator websites. Korean artists Mingwa (the creator of BJ Alex), Fargo (the creator of Love is an Illusion), White Eared (the creator of From Points of Three), Byeol Narae (the creator of Almost Love), and GGANG-E (the writer of A Man of Virtue) have all spoken about the negative impact scanlations, and illegal uploads have had on their financial and mental well-being. In contrast to Machiya’s situation, these artists see the official translations of their work on these aggregator websites.
The act of freely viewing manhwa on illegal sites greatly affects my economic situation. I only publish BJ Alex, which is available only on Lezhin. In other words, Lezhin coins are my sole source of income, and I don’t get a single cent from users reading BJ Alex for free on illegal sites. The income from coins is fair payment for the labor that goes into drawing the manhwa. I need an income to live a normal life and draw in a better environment. If there are more users of illegal sites, I might not be able to work.
Being a platform for legal BL manga, futekiya is not immune to these issues since manga aggregator websites have started ripping and reposting official translations. As of early March 2020, the futekiya team received informed that there are individuals who are planning to futekiya’s official releases to manga aggregator websites.
We apologize for this message. 🙇🏻♀️
It has come to our team’s attention that some individuals plan to upload BL manga from our library to manga aggregator websites.
Illegally uploading manga directly impacts how much artists and publishers are paid for their hard work. (1/4)
— BL Manga Subscription! (@futekiya) February 27, 2020
Our team emphasizes the negative impacts of illegal uploading of official releases to the whole manga industry and beg these individuals to refrain from doing so as it affects the compensation received by creators and publishers. Additionally, these uploads have the potential to make it difficult for futekiya to grow and continue for BL fans around the world.
About futekiya: BL manga subscription
In 2018, futekiya began as a Boys’ Love manga news and culture website operated by FANTASISTA, INC., a CG/VR production studio based in Tokyo, Japan. futekiya transformed into a budding global distributor of officially licensed BL manga in 2019.
futekiya launched as an online subscription service for officially licensed BL manga on July 8, 2019. Determined to connect fans around the world with English-translated BL legally and conveniently, futekiya empowers readers to support creators and the manga industry.
Readers who subscribe to futekiya and pay a flat monthly fee of $6.99 will have access to our expanding library of English-language manga. To subscribe, please go to read.futekiya.com and create an account. More information is in our guide.