In what appears to be a stunning reversal of position and possibly an acknowledgement of just how much ill-will the ongoing saga has generated for the company, Odex has announced that it will no longer take action against anime downloaders who stopped downloading anime with effect from 3rd September 2007. This means that the previous, very pertinent complaints of Odex being unfair in issuing letters to those who had downloaded in March and April but whom had stopped by the time the Odex saga first went public in June, will be addressed, partially.
Is this a welcome reprieve? It would be unwise to assume that this signals the end of the Odex saga or even that Odex has finally seen the light. But it certainly is a reprieve. One must admit that this move is probably the smartest and shrewdest that they ever made throughout the whole Odex fiasco. Like I raised earlier, it largely addresses the complaints that Odex was unfair in issuing the letters when no widely available public warning or media coverage was announced. Pacnet and Starhub users may now rest easy and Singnet users who haven't already been Odexed should be safe too as it appears that Odex has already sent out all the letters to the Singnet subscribers.
Thus anime downloaders are effectively given the warning that they have been clamouring for and everyone (who hasn't been Odexed yet) is effectively given a clean slate till 3rd September 2007. Download after 3rd September 2007 and Odex will go after you. That much certainly sounds fair, you have to be a total blithering idiot to continue bit torrenting anime after all the glaringly obvious media coverage the Odex saga has received. What isn't so nice and rosy though is for the Singnet anime downloaders like Shi hao who have already settled or have received the dreaded Odex letter but not settled yet.
For those who have settled, there's certainly no talk of re compensation and after signing a letter of undertaking that admits your liability and relinquishes a lot of your rights, attempting to reclaim the sum paid to Odex will be well nigh impossible. To put it simply, for those who have paid, all they can do is to suck thumb. For those who have received the dreaded letter but have not paid or settled yet, the situation is murkier but not much more promising.
In the Straits Times article, it does not appear that the 'olive branch extended to anime downloaders' is similarly extended to the Odexed anime downloaders. After all, Stephen Sing even says that Odex will continue to negotiate with those who have not settled yet or take action if instructed to by the Jap companies. And in the Odex lingo, negotiate normally means negotiating as to the sum to be paid and not whether the Odexed people still need to pay or not.
It's much like being the last batch of say students studying the old syllabus, they have the misfortune (or luxury) of being the last batch and are not affected by the requirements or benefits of the new syllabus. Similarly, the Odexed people who have not paid yet are like the last batch of students, still subject to the pain and trauma of having to settle and not privy to the new 'olive branch' or clean slate offered to other un-Odexed anime downloaders.
So you still do have a little unfairness in that a small minority, the Odexed Singnet anime downloaders in no way benefit from this 'olive branch'. In fact, I suspect many would be embittered by the fact that they had settled or were simply unfortunate enough to be caught. Unfortunately, there doesn't appear to be much that can be done about that. For the majority though, this piece of news certainly comes as a welcome reprieve. This doesn't absolve Odex of the numerous faults and faux-pas it committed.
But it is a step in the right direction.