Saturday, September 1, 2007

Odex: Bringing in the Big Boys.

Odex certainly hasn't wasted any time in bringing out the big guns since they announced that they would be appealing against the Pacnet judgement by District Judge Earnest Lau as was expected. What did come as a bit of surprise was the sheer speed and lengths to which Odex has gone to demonstrate that they have the authority to do whatever they have been doing (sending out the letters, etc), were justified in doing so and have every intention of continuing.

The flying in of Mark Ishikawa, the CEO of BayTSP, the company that Odex hired to track down the IP addresses of illegal anime downloaders was expected. After all, it was merely an evidentiary issue and I don't think it was ever really doubted that Odex had hired BayTSP to do the job. So to make sure that aspect was settled, they flew in the CEO himself, most likely to testify and settle once and for all any issues with regards to evidence on how the IP addresses were obtained. A little overkill perhaps but one wouldn't blame them for wanting to play it safe though.

But Odex certainly wasn't content to leave things lying the way they were. By flying in representatives from four of the Japanese companies that own the copyrights for the various animes and calling a public press conference, Odex was setting the stage for the showdown appeal in the High Court and pulling out all stops, determined to win. The message was clear and unequivocal: that Odex had been authorized by them to take action to protect their copyrights and should the Singapore Courts hold that Odex is not entitled to take any action, the Japanese companies would not hesitate to go to court directly and take legal action against the downloaders themselves.

The explicit backing by the Jap companies and copyright owners certainly lend great weight to Odex's case and bolster its 'moral authority' that it was justified in taking action and will be seen as implicit backing of Odex's intentions to continue. After all, even if Odex is not recognised as the correct legal party to bring a civil action, the Jap companies themselves would proceed. And you can be very sure that there'd be no impediments to obstruct their suit then. To put it simply, either way they win.

Perhaps because the future certainly seems a lot rosier for Odex or possibly in an attempt to foster goodwill and repair their already shattered image, Odex announced that they would hire an independent auditor to go through their accounts at the end of the case and any 'extras' would be donated to charity. Which is really nothing more than a PR move that rings hollow and raises a few issues.

  1. They'll hire an independent auditor to go through the accounts at the end of the case. Now since they'd already mentioned previously that the ongoing saga would be precisely just that, ongoing. When exactly does the case end? If Odex will be continuing to monitor illegal downloads and send out the letters on a continuous basis from now on, just when is the case ending? If there's no end in sight, when is the auditor going to come in and when will the findings be made public, etc?
  2. Like the anonymous commentor who left a comment with the http link to the Online Today article commented, donating money to charitable causes is all very nice and dandy. A slick PR move. BUT it isn't even Odex's money to donate in the first place. True the sums were paid in settlement but only because Odex mentioned that $3000-$5000 was roughly the sum needed to cover their expenses.
    It remains pretentious to donate other people's money to charity when those who settled were under the impression that it was solely to cover costs and settled for that reason. And of course it is very easy to donate money which wasn't even yours in the first place. IF Odex really wants to show its sincerity, it should either return the excess to those who settled or provide some free value added service for the community.
After an extremely long hiatus, the Odex website is finally up. To their credit, they have included a Video on Demand section where one can pay for an episode and download it, legally. A short exploration of their site however leaves much to be desired. For one, their Video on Demand only has a grand total of TWO series, Tokyo Majin Gakuen and Seto no Hanayome. None of the more popular series like Bleach, etc. And no information on when more series will be added to the VOD section.

Second, the issue about the quality of subs hasn't been addressed yet but it appears that it isn't much better ( any more information on this would be appreciated). I noted with some amusement that some guy called ashe001 had registered on the Odex Community forum and spammed the forum list with a thread titled 'Download 1000+ Full Animes from these Sites!!!' Some people will never learn^^. The moderators were efficient though, an hour later after I returned, the threads were removed, eliminated. Just to prove I'm not fibbing, here's the screenshot of one of the threads.

Looks like even if Odex wins the war against illegal downloaders, it's already lost the battle for the hearts of anime fans in Singapore.

Update: Odex offers an olive branch to anime downloaders. No action taken for downloads before 3rd September 2007. A welcome reprieve?


spyer said...

Thanks for the writeup.

Yes, even if they get to win, the damage done is quite great. People will exercise one thing that they can use - money. No need to do anything on the net, words of month is good enough.

Now, as they said in NatGeo, the killing stops when the buying stops or something of the same effect.

Anonymous said...

Well, if Odex loses the appeal and the anime co. steps in, will it become a civil or criminal action?

If so, then can odex continue to monitor and "catch" alleged IP infringers in the future if it doesn't have the right?

It's really a sad day for Singaporeans, with the shift from hunting down illegal software selling pirates to the kid/man on the street.

Talk about the "killing field".

Aelgtoer said...

It'll still be a civil suit and whether Odex has the right or not to monitor would depend on the outcome of the case.
Even if odex doesn't, all they will need to do is to transfer the monitoring programs to the Jap companies.