12 Jan 2007

Clamp Down on Animation Downloads ?

I came upon this concern after following up on a commentator in an earlier post who responded to my question regarding which group is to be targeted next in The Great Singapore Clean-Up?

Now whether or not the post below is 'fact' I will leave up to your discretion as you are not children and are able to discern fact from fiction. So with a pinch of salt and the thought that we are not able to read the governments mind or policies, read on...

Posted by kwok on Sunday, December 31st, 2006

A couple of days ago, I spent the afternoon with a good friend visiting Odex, because I heard they were having a ‘focus group discussion’, and nothing turns me on more than a focus group discussion. By the way, if you do not know what Odex is, Odex Pte Ltd is a company that fights animation piracy and gets genuine titles from Japan, as well as fend off frenzied attacks from robotic hunter-seeker dogs built by massively-downloading military scientists.

Odex had expected about 4-5 bodies to turn up, but the actual number came up to about 10-15, which shows that my country is very passionate about keeping their entertainment free. It also turns out that Odex was looking to engage the representatives of the various clubs for their perspective, to find out exactly what they want from Odex. Two local universities and several polytechnics were represented, but there was no one from the junior colleges (must have been too busy studying or having sex in the classrooms). It seems that many faceless members of the online community have a negative perception of Odex, because downloading is free.

The Odex people, I am pleased to say, are very agreeable for people of my homeland, and I was pleased about that. I do not see any need to post about the specifics of the little discussion (that ran up to about 3 hours), or talk about why Odex is good or bad, but here is a brief breakdown of what was talked about:

Odex will cut their prices again. Middlemen’s cut and production-distribution costs ensure that prices must stay at a minimum, however.

Odex will produce higher quality products which will look nicer than before.

Odex wants to start a membership service, targeted at students but may/will extend to anyone. It will provide some sort of exclusivity in some way that I cannot confirm, but, yeah.

Now this is interesting: The government wants to clamp down on animation downloads effective… this year. Happy New Year. The figures passed down stated that my beloved motherland has 230,000 animation downloaders. We are the top in the world by population percentage, at, uh, 5%? Canada only has 20,000 more households, and yet they have a lot more maple trees than us.

Odex underlined that this sounded like a serious effort on the part of the authorities, who are sick of catching little mama-shops selling pirated batteries. Japanese animation presents a fine opportunity to round up more bodies because there are few legalities to work with (Odex holds most of the licenses for titles in my motherland). They have spoken with the authorities, and I quote, the police have ‘techniques to handle certain things’.

On the other hand, I quote again, ‘it’s not going to look good if the students are caught’. It will not be nice if the local No. 1 tabloid has a 15-page exclusive on 16-year-olds jumping off 20-storey buildings in an attempt to shake off hardened plainclothes raiders. So Odex, in a nice way, is giving us a heads up and telling us to stay down.

Odex wants ‘community involvement’. Odex says that it’s made up of fans just like you and me, and naturally our interests are the same. But at the end of the day, they have to take in the ‘arm-twisting’ from the authorities (i like my Media Developed, Ah?), especially when it involves censorship and television broadcasts.
In the past, any show that is rejected by the censorship board will be thrown back for editing before being put up again, until it finally clears. Now, the new rule states that there is to be no cutting whatsoever. This means if something does not meet the board’s fickle requirements, it is permanently banned. It also seems that the censorship board is made up of 40/50-year-olds who want to keep decency and hygiene a big part of our lifestyles, which explains why Girls Bravo Season 2 is banned in my hometown.

Still, Odex does not want my country to end up as a ‘barren’ wasteland for animation. They want it to be a nice place for everyone. But it is difficult to even do something new and useful when they are struggling to keep the line in check. I was regaled by tales of rogue competitors who use underhand means to get their sale volumes. Odex says they are willing to listen to the local community for advice and suggestions, so that at the end of the day, they can create products that our community can be proud of.

So these are the facts; at least, the facts from my perspective. So what is my own opinion of this new development? to continue reading the article ...

Whether or not this is 'fact' is of course in the hands of the government officials. I do have to say that even if this is not fact and the government has no intentions of clamping down, there is a palpable sense of fear being generated by the previous actions of those in power, so either way the Singapore government does seem to generate a lot Registry Cleaning and Disk Defragmenting.

1 comment:

Matilah_Singapura said...

If this article is true, Odex seems to be behaving like an excellent corporate citizen by defending its PRIVATE PROPERTY rights. They're doing the right thing by reducing prices and improving quality—i.e. adding value for the customer—to make their products more "attractive" and affordable. This is how a good company behaves in the free market. Bravo!

Protection from theft and murder are the foremost functions of the state, and if the state enforces the law on illegal downloading, it is acting as it ought to.

In my comment on this post I advised warning the kids against illegal downloading. I should clarify: I am not supporting the activity of illegal downloads, but I don't want to see kids being hammered by the by the state's "Gavel of Morality" either. Yes, they are doing wrong by downloading BUT the punishments which they can receive if caught and charged are far too excessive for their crimes.

Illegal downloaders actually make it worse for the rest of us. The State MUST act to protect property, or it loses its credibility in the area of JUSTICE. Without the rule of law to protect the people's ownership of material things, peace and prosperity would be impossible.

The net "works" because the majority of people on it are responsibly self-governed individuals. They enjoy the free speech and the freedom to travel (surf) anywhere. Technology is at a level where even govt censorship can be easily by-passed. Anarchy, so far is working just fine.

The last thing which is needed is a bunch of folks who are either too young to know the ramifications of their actions, too brazen to care, or simply enjoy the idea of "getting something for nothing" — even if it means stealing. So it does come down to the individual level to "police" the net because if we don't, eventually the state will.

Illegal downloading has long reaching consequences of harm for everyone. If more people get caught, the state simply pours on "more resources", and the next thing we have is a "War On Piracy". And we know what happens in state-initiated wars— like the "War on Terrorism" or the "War on Drugs" or the "War Against Whatchamacallits" — The State starts witch hunting, propagandising, new chiefs are appointed — more absolute power is created.

Now, guess what happens to the freedom and liberty of ordinary peace-loving folks?

And what happens to "justice"?

How can there be justice and liberty when every citizen is under suspicion of being a criminal?

There's heaps of GREAT stuff on the net which can be obtained free, legally. The stuff that is not free is sold because some creative somewhere is simply making a living, and he is entitle to be paid for his effort and labour. IMO, its not cool to take the bread out of peoples' mouths.

"Don't Steal, The Government Hates Competition" (you may download this, with my compliments and blessing)