Scanlation: A Crime of Love?

Much to the dismay of Japanese and Korean publishers, scanlation has taken root among global fans. Many forums and articles debate the pros and cons of this fan-fueled activity. Fans make the argument scanlation stems from love. Yet, this love helps creates a space where blatant theft co-exists with pet translation projects. At times, it even promotes a mindset of free content regardless of publishers and artists. GGANG-E, the writer behind Lezhin webcomic A Man of Virtue, is one such artist who discovered the darker corners of the scanlation grey zone.

Can I read A Man of Virtue for Free?

On June 14, 2018, GGANG-E discovered A Man of Virtue on popular scanlation aggregate website mangago and decided to take a stand. Although Lezhin offers an English edition of GGANG-E’s webcomic, mangago hosted English scans on the site alongside unlicensed scanlated works. Dismayed by the popularity of A Man of Virtue on mangago, GGANG-E registered with the website and decided to address the fans.

G-GANG E trying to fight against piracy
A handful of readers responded to GGANG-E’s post with helpful suggestions on how to notify mangago a request for removal. However, others replied with less grace.

mangago.me bad fan for A man of virtue

Despite GGANG-E’s efforts, The Man of Virtue remained on the illegal aggregation site until at least August 6, 2018 and listed updated chapters on August 1.

**UPDATE**
When we posted this article, we erroneously wrote that mangago had deleted A Man of Virtue. However, upon further investigation our team discovered mangago had blocked access to the illegal upload in both Japan and Korea, effectively hiding it from artists and publishers.

At the time of these updates on August 8, mangago has not taken down the English version of the webcomic and blocked access to it in Japan and Korea. 

Below is a screenshoot from Japan.
Mangago hiding A Man of VirtueTo see the (incorrectly spelled) A Man of Virtue,  we asked our friends from America to send a screenshot.

Mangago hiding A man of virtue

A Man of Virtue on mangago.me illegally

**UPDATE 8/12/18**Since the release of this article, we have received muliple reports that mangago has removed A Man of Virtue.  However, many webcomics are still floating around aggregate websites.

**UPDATE 8/13/18** Following the removal of A Man of Virtue on mangago, readers have left messages on the aggregator’s questions forum asking where the webcomic had gone.
A Man of Virtue read for free manga

Although some readers appeared to be aware of GGANG-E’s wishes, others seemed to agree with mangago’s tactics.
A Man of Virtue bad readersFor obvious reasons, we have blacked out the website as well as names on the questions. We understand these are individual readers and they do not represent readers as a whole. But, what is our responsibliy as consumers? As fans?

Current uploads of GGANG-E’s webcomic are  screenshots.

A Man of Virtue
We have blurred out the images and website. Please find the webcomic on Lezhin’s official website: https://www.lezhin.com/en/comic/virtue

We talked with GGANG-E about mangago and piracy to learn more about the issue from the creator’s perspective.  We contacted mangago for this article, but the website owners could not be reached for comment.

Stop justifying yourself.”

Manga Planet: Could you please give us a short self-introduction for you and your team. 

GGANG-EI’m the story writer of A Man of Virtue and Wook is my work partner who draws the cartoon. Because it takes a lot of time to complete webcomics in one week, there is an assistant who helps Wook with her coloring.

Manga PlanetHow and when did you find A Man of Virtue on Mangago.me? 

GGANG-E: I was googling ‘A Man of Virtue’ to see the reaction after it was published in the USA through the official website.  Instead of sweet comments, I found Mangago. The site consisted of stolen mangas and I was just horrified. 

Manga PlanetHave you had any received any communication from Mangago.me?

GGANG-E: I e-mailed Mangago to put down my work. They read the mail but did not reply. I commented on Mangago to take down our cartoon. Also, I asked people there to legally buy it through the official website. Not many people reacted to my comments as they wanted to ignore what I was saying. Some tried to convince others that I was not the real artist and some said they wanted to keep on stealing our cartoon because they cannot afford it. It was disgusting. I was surprised by their level of thoughts.

Manga PlanetHow has the illegal posting of your work impacted your career/life?

GGANG-E: It affects me economically. Making a web cartoon requires a lot of time and energy, and it is to the level of ruining artists’ health. To keep on going, artists have to hire assistants and all their wage comes out of artists pocket. The company does not support us on that matter. A lot of cartoonists are already suffering from low income. What Mangago and their accomplices are stealing are artists life and career.  If an artist cannot earn one’s living from making a cartoon, one would have to give up on their work. It is simple as that.

Manga Planet: Do you have a message to those who read manga/comics illegally online?

GGANG-E: I hope you know what you are doing. Stop justifying yourself. Reading manga illegally is same as ruining artist’s life and dream.  If you can’t afford it, don’t read. If you can afford it, buy. If you don’t casually kill other people and steal their stuff in your daily life just for fun, don’t do it online.

They are not different.

You can read A Man of Virtue at Lezhin. If you are a creator that would like to talk to us about your experience, please contact us via DM on Twitter or email us at hanashiro@fantasista-net.jp. 

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