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Dutch court rules fan subtitles on TV and movies are illegal (thenextweb.com)
63 points by phr4ts on Apr 21, 2017 | hide | past | web | favorite | 25 comments

This is one of those cases where I feel the results are technically correct, but that they are likely not what the average person (if thinking of their best interests) wants.

Instead of enriching culture and promoting understanding of foreign viewpoints this oppresses what is, at least in the US, the theoretical reason that such information monopolies are purportedly allowed to exist. I cannot see how banning this academic and educational work promotes the progress of science or "useful arts" (I recall this meaning roughly 'crafts-person skills').

I don't see that this really changes anything. Most fansub groups that I knew of were pretty clear that they would take down anything that they were asked to because they knew they were on shaky ground to start with.

On the flip side, most content producers (anime) didn't ask them to take them down until they had their own translations planned because it was helping them, not harming them.

Clearly, this group was not taking their stuff down when asked and even went so far as to sue the people who were asking. I'm just amazed by that move. I don't know anything about Dutch law, but I'd have been amazed if it worked out like they thought it would.

And despite what the article says, I doubt this will have any influence on courts in other countries.

Many anime fansub groups I followed in the past just removed works once the originals got licensed.

Their stated goal was to make good stuff available in a language where it wasn't, not piracy.

I'm not even sure why this is newsworthy, this is hardly the first subtitles site that has been taken offline.

Anyway subtitle files are tiny; it shouldn't be hard to host in a way that can't be taken offline, like a .onion site or some distributed solution.

Fan subs are an enabler for promoting culture and stimulating tourism. So it goes without saying that the administration of Holland doesn't at all mind that someone outside of Holland is making subtitles for a Dutch TV show or movie in English, or Hungarian, or Spanish or what have you.

I suspect they are just caving in to pressure from outsiders. If I were to guess, English-speaking outsiders from America.

Hey, look who is a member of this "Dutch" BREIN group: the MPAA.

If Holland weren't in the EU, they might have the guts to tell them to go home. "We don't mind Dutch TV and movies being subbed in English by American fans, so we expect the same in reverse; have a nice day".

So with zero evidence it's the result of shadowy US influence? C'mon man, even socialist utopias can make mistakes.

How many people do you really think are making and/or watching fansubbed Dutch content?

Why do you find the question relevant?

Exactly. Seems like a specious strawman when the attack on personal use and viewing experience is much broader. Corporate control seeks to pervade every aspect of life and shake down people at every opportunity.

I worry what this means for the future of deep-learning based audio analysis tools to automatically generate subtitles (for the hard of hearing).

Does this mean that YouTube's audio-recognition powered automatic subtitles are illegal in some edge cases? The platform can always have a ToS/shrinkwrap allowing for automated subtitling, but legacy videos created before the policy or videos that aren't owned by the uploader could cause legal problems.

Also, is this possibly case law that can be used to outlaw other forms of describing media, such as drawing representations of the scenes or writing descriptions of what happens?

Yes, that's pulling the current situation to obserb conclusions but sometimes that's what happens with copyright.... always trying to push the law in ways it was not intended.

Things might be more subtle than they seem: These subtitles are a big enabler for piracy. If you are not as fluent in English, stuff like popcorn time isn't very usefull.

Very true. A ... ahem, friend of mine, has bought DVDs just to get at decent subtitles.

Any multilingual person that consumes foreign media targeted at the local market knows that official subtitles are hit-and-miss, sometimes writing down something that sounds the same, but it's not (where/were) and in some cases even reversing the meaning of the sentence. Fansubs, on the other hand, if they are for popular media they have outstanding work poured into them, and when it is for niche media they might be slightly lower quality, but in those cases official subtitles are not available at all in the first place.

I remember watching Alien 3 at the cinema with French subtitles:

Audio: She's down in there with the beast!

Subtitles: She's down in there with the priest!

(Weirdly, beast and priest sound much the same in French, too.)

Or when watching Neverending Story the turtle says "one thousand miles". The subtitles convert this to kilometres with 6 decimal places showing.

> (Weirdly, beast and priest sound much the same in French, too.)

Not that weirdly :) "beast" and "priest" are loanwords from the Old French "beste" and "prestre". They then both went through sound changes. English changed the /ɛ/ in both words to a /i/, and in French, the /s/ disappeared.

Actually Swedish fansubs tend to have horrible quality, probably because many downloading savvy people in Sweden do just fine without subtitles (for English movies). And those that do need subtitles try (sometimes with tragi-comical results) to help themselves...

Next time I'm in Japan, I plan to look for and buy a DVD for which I made fan subs.

If a DVD has subs, chances are the pirated versions of it contain the ripped version of those subs. Fansubbing generally refers to making subs for material that has no subs at all, or not in that language. OCR-ing some captions or subs and pumping through Google translate isn't exactly fansubbing.

It sucks when official subtitles for even movies like Your Name can sound off to someone who has only picked up a few words / phrases from watching anime. Same with popular games like Persona 5. :(

Official subtitles are sometimes awful, and are a good reason for fansubbers not to take down their subs even when something is officially released in their country with subs.

Greedy corporations leaning on governments to drive people away from their content, criminalizing remixing and making content unusable by the blind and others speaking different languages not approved. Plus, they probably want to charge a fee for alternate language or requiring purchasing the content again in that language. F that!

It's a Dutch court.

Thanks, we've added that to the title.


Here is the original court ruling -- can someone translate (heh) this (I can't read it in the original)?

Making fan subs 'underground' I kinda feel like will make them more popular to create.

I'm not clear which way this was going language wise?

Like it or not English seems like it will become the world language so perhaps it's not all bad to make people watch things in English.

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