Wednesday, August 11, 2010


So One Manga is down. The online reader has been disabled. The site’s still there, still has plenty of features, but no one’s going to be reading any manga there for the foreseeable future. Of course, this happened over a week ago, but I didn’t have Internet access for most of the last week, so it was kinda hard to comment.

Honestly, I don’t expect my life to change much. I mean, I didn’t use One Manga. And it’s not like every manga reading site is down; Manga Fox is still functioning, last I checked. But the only thing I read there is Magical Record Lyrical Nanoha Force, and I’ll be in Japan soon enough buying the actual manga myself. So yeah.

I’ll be honest: it’s hard for me to muster up any regret over this one. Or should I say, it’s a little bit difficult to repress my sense of “had it coming”. Let’s be honest with ourselves: what One Manga was doing was, in all probability, illegal. And the only thing stopping me from saying that’s beyond any doubt is because I am not familiar with the relevant laws in the necessary detail. But I would be very surprised if it was permissible, under either Japanese or American copyright laws, to read things like Naruto and One Piece without legally paying for them.

Really, though, the legalities don’t matter as much as you’d think. Certainly, they didn’t stop uncountable masses of manga fans from using sites like One Manga. And I am perfectly fine with that. I’ve read manga online myself; I did so just before writing this. (Caught up on the aforementioned Nanoha manga.) I do not care what decisions people make in situations where those decisions do not affect me.

What I do have a problem with are people that, willfully or not, delude themselves as to the nature of those decisions. Most people don’t think about it, I’d bet. Certainly I don’t spend every minute of reading Nanoha thinking “wow, this is illegal and I shouldn’t be doing it.” But neither do I tell myself “it would be an injustice if I couldn’t do this.” I have made my decision, and I will not lie to myself about the nature of that decision.

And I think it’s almost more important to recognize that every decision carries its consequences. Even the decisions that can be recognized as “justified”, whatever that means. And sometimes those consequences deserve to be questioned or challenged. But they can never be avoided or tossed aside.

To use a somewhat extreme example, if someone chooses to kill another over a minor disagreement, in some places they can be killed by the government in return. Some people question whether the death penalty is in fact justified or not... but for the moment, it continues to exist. And anyone who chooses to commit the crime of murder, in a place where the death penalty exists, should be prepared for the relevant consequences, including the death penalty.

Of course, I seriously doubt that most criminals actually have considered that factor beforehand. But the point remains. I do not care what decisions people make... but I can have little respect for people that make those decisions without being willing to accept the attendant consequences of their actions.

The people that set up and run One Manga made a conscious choice to do so. They made that choice with full knowledge, or at least full access to knowledge, of the relevant laws and controls governing the use of material like the manga that they posted to the Internet. And now, the consequences of that choice have taken effect. Frankly, if I were one of them, I’d be glad that they were no more severe than “cease and desist.”