Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Odex Update: The Empire Strikes Back.

The crackdown on illegal anime downloaders continues and shows no sign of abating. If anything, the recent events and today's revelations by Odex's Mr Peter Go are an indication that the Crackdown is in full swing. People breathed a sigh of relief after the initial spate of letters in late May and early June, being under the impression that they were safe from the chopping board, the unlucky few who got 'Odexed', hardcore downloaders that were more 'deserving' of being caught. But it was not to be.

After a brief lull, the dreaded registered mails were back in full force in July, diminishing to nothing towards the middle and end of July then returning like the Plague in the early part of August. And people have still been receiving the letter up till this very day. All the speculation, angst and impotent rage by the anime community, most notably on certain forums like Hardwarezone, with regards to issues like How Odex received the IP addresses from Singnet, Which company Odex hired to track the illegal downloaders, etc; did not go unnoticed.

Theories abounded as to whether Odex's actions were ethical and why it appeared that only Singnet subscribers have been receiving the Letter when there are a considerable number of Downloaders on Starhub and to a much smaller extent, Pacnet. Today's report in The New Paper (08 August 2007, Page 2-3 )about the Crackdown by Odex and the official version of the entire process by the Odex people did shed some light on certain murky issues. The situation however does not look promising for the illegal anime downloaders.

Here's some of the important points to be summarised:

  1. Singnet did not release its Subscriber's information voluntarily to Odex. Odex's solicitors, Rajah & Tann, applied for a court order to make Singnet release the information. As per Singnet's spokesman: "...In this particular case, Odex had obtained a court order that required us to release the information to them..." This court order has been confirmed by a couple of Odex-ed individuals who were shown a copy of the court order.
  2. Singnet subscribers who illegally downloaded anime on BT are not and will not be the only ones to be Odex-ed. As many members of the community have long suspected, Odex is processing and sending out the letters to the illegal downloaders- one ISP at a time. As Mr Go himself said, "We just haven't finished matching the data from the other ISPs yet. We are not targeting any ISP in particular." So yes, Starhub downloaders won't be exempt for long.
  3. Apparently, Odex is contemplating taking legal action if the situation does not improve. Though eliminating illegal downloads is not quite the same as boosting sales of Odex's products but that is another story. And taking legal action would mean "...getting to the point where we will have to raid the homes of those who download illegally..." Which is not funny. At all.
  4. This point's not in the TNP report but it's been something that's been observed by the netizens on the forums. The number of episodes for which downloaders have been caught for is shrinking significantly. From the three page appendix of downloaded files back in June, the unlucky recepient of the most recent letter had only downloaded FOUR episodes of Code Geass. How this number constitutes significant as per the Copyright Act is beyond me. Relevant portion of letter attached below.
Everything else that was mentioned like the where the settled sums were going to and the reasons behind Odex's dismal sales should be taken with a pinch of salt. A very very large pinch at that. Other things to take note of which have not been officially verified and I doubt it'd ever be. Still, no harm knowing:
  • It has been suggested and appears to be widely agreed upon that the American company tracking the IP addresses of the BT downloaders is BayTSP.

  • The illegal downloaders who were Odex-ed so far all appear to be those who have downloaded in batch, be it a batch file (example Episodes 1-4 in a single file) or multiple episodes in one day. The key words here are so far.

  • Again all those who have been caught are Bit torrent users or those who downloaded the torrent files. Once again, this is as of now. No guarantees as to the future or form, though it does seem unlikely for now. The ISP issue is a now moot point cause as you heard from the Odex guys, they're processing one ISP at a time. Your ISP will not protect you.

All in all a very dismal situation for whoever downloaded anything (anime) via Bit Torrent or other torrent clients from February 2007 till now. It's that gloom and doom feeling, where the postman is the LAST person you want to see. And if you're still downloading via torrent up till today, good luck and I hope you have your $3,500 (at LEAST) ready.

Cause Odex is in town.

Update: Odex obtains Court order forcing Starhub to reveal subscribers' identities, what's next?


sa08 said...

Hi, just read the latest post on your blog. I happened to find your blog while searching for gay anime/ manga.

It seems like it's a grave matter now that ODEX is catching people. I just hope it dies down.

And, I have to say that I agree with the anime fans that the anime vcd that ODEX release sucks. Bad quality. Inaccurate subtitles. Dubbing -- I hate dubbings. Sound quality NG. Price wise, it's quite EX.

Also, doing so, ODEX will not be earning from this. We, anime fans will be angered and not buy their vcds !! > <

Furthermore, I feel that it is not right. Why do the downloaders get caught? Why not the person who releases the downloads? And, it is not like we download the anime and burn them to CDs and sell them to other people, right? We do burn them to CDs but they are for our own use.

an anime cum gay anime/manga fan
Marissa Lim,
residing in S'pore

Aelgtoer said...

Hi Marissa,
I was enjoying a short getaway with the Other Half, hence the late reply.

I think we would all love Odex to stop sending out letters like fed-exs. It not only fails to give the downloaders a chance to actually stop before getting walloped with a hefty fine; it breeds an environment of fear and distrust of all things Odex.

Like so many members of the anime community have already said, getting anime fans to stop downloading by such means would not get them to support or buy Odex products when the products themselves are so lacking.

It is a shame that fans have to pay a small but significant sum for products which are inferior in quality to the free fansubs. If you want people to pay for stuff at least give them a reason to want to do so. Like releasing higher quality products.

With regards to the legality bit, the sad truth is that our IP laws are heavily weighted in favour of the copyright holder. The reason why they're coming after the local downloaders and not the foreign fansubbers is because it is easier and cheaper to do so.

Still just because something is legal doesn't mean you can produce sub-standard products and expect anime fans to pay for it.

You may open a stall selling chicken rice but it sucks and no one comes to buy your chicken rice. Branding your chickens as being 100% antibiotic free, Kampong Chickens from Timbuktoo will do nothing to entice customers to buy your chicken rice if it still tastes like shit.

So the base line is, if Odex want customers, they need to fix their products first. Whacking people with letters that threaten legal action will not help their cause or sales in the long run.

Anonymous said...

hi, well, after reading ur post, i just feel like i want to write something... i think copyright law is applicable to those who download the illegal one and then sell it or make that into own profit. Only when u do something like that, they can accuse u under criminal law.M i right?