MMD’s Major Model Drama

If you’ve been following this blog long enough and carefully enough, you’ll notice that I was conspicuously absent for most of the Spring.  I apologize for that, and all I have to explain myself are a diploma and these pictures from my Las Vegas trip.  Seriously, though, I do feel bad for disappearing and hope that I won’t do it again.

Although, in the interest of full disclosure, school and vacation weren’t the only reasons I was absent from Vism.   Alas, there was trouble within the community that frustrated me enough to aid in my departure.  That trouble still persists, and I feel I should put in my two cents on it.  For those who honestly don’t care about this dramu, feel free to consider this my semi-official “I’m back” announcement and carry on with the rest of your day.  For the rest of you, click the jump and enjoy a bonus OP/ED piece.

EDITOR’S NOTE: The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the opinions of Vocaloidism or the rest of its staff.

If break through all the drama and the hearsay, the facts are these: people have been distributing MMD models second-hand.  That is, linking to their own sites as opposed to the sites of the model makers.  The most notable example is with Nanami Watabe and her (again, presuming her until told otherwise) UTAU models.  People have been editing them without permission and redistributing them and the base models, basically undermining any association between Ms. Watabe and her work.  After a long back-and-forth between Ms. Watabe and the community, it all came to a head at the end of June when she decided to pull her models from her site.  Instead, there is a well thought-out, albeit clunky in English, letter explaining her reasoning for taking this action.  Other incidents that may or may not have been connected to Ms. Watabe’s tribulations have also occured, including model-maker/comic artist Saboten temporarily removing models.

I’ve wanted to fully muse on this issue for a good 3-4 months now, but never had the full ability to do so.  For one thing, it’s a rather complicated issue, and while it seems a lot of people watching from the sidelines tend to be fairly black and white on the matter, this member of the Peanut Gallery sees a lot more gray.

First off, let me get the obvious out of the way.  If you want to share anything MMD with your friends, give credit where it’s due and link to the original site.  It’s a simple courtesy, takes maybe 2 extra minutes of your time, and frees up your own bandwidth/web space for something else.  It’s a win-win.  As for editing models, if the creator says don’t do it, well, don’t do it.  Fanmade culture is a bit overblown in my opinion, and the only reason I could see editing a model is if you wanted the character to wear a different outfit or something else that’s equally innocuous.  However, if you just can’t help yourself and have to Frankenstein that model for your Sailor Earth-caloid, then be discrete about it or it’s your own fault when (not if) you get caught. (NOTE: This is not an endorsement of bad behavior.  It’s an acknowledgment that bad behavior takes place.)

To the model makers, I will say that it’s wonderful that you do this essentially out of the goodness of your hearts and that you have every right to do whatever you want with your creations.  However, I don’t have to agree with your actions, and in the case of removing models, I don’t.  To be honest, it’s closing the barn door after the horse has left.  It really doesn’t do anything to stop the problem, and I could actually see it make things worse. I could easily see someone saying “I used suchandsuchP’s models for this video.  I’d link you to them on his site, but he’s taken them down, so I put them up on mediafire.  Here’s the link.”

I understand you may be upset that people are misusing your stuff, but don’t tell me that you’re actually surprised about this.  Did you honestly believe that everyone on the Internet, bastion of the free exchange of information to a fault, would follow the rules? Also, at least in terms of editing your stuff, you have to allow the end user some latitude when it comes to use.  After all, once someone downloads it, it no longer becomes your model.

There have also been reports of threatened legal action by the makers.  Now, my legal expertise is practically non-existent, but I find that to be a porous argument.  For one thing, I consider MikuMikuDance to be about as legal as Japanese doujinshi (i.e. not very, but no one really cares) but I’m perfectly fine with that.  For another, I can’t see anyone reasonably having a reasonable legal claim to ownership of any characters.  UTAU characters are probably the murkiest to determine, but I’d say they either end up belonging to Ameya/Ayame or are public domain.  Even if the above sentences are completely off-base, there’s still the matter of legally determining ownership of a digital item, something which the world’s courts still haven’t really figured out how to do.

So in the end, what did these past 875 words really say?  They say that model misuse is still a problem, and that ideally, it shouldn’t happen and people should know better, but it’s not just a matter of good people vs. bad.  At the end of the day, everyone really just needs to take a step back and take a deep breath.  I’m still going to support MMD, warts and all, and I’ll probably end up doing a few things that modelers may not want me to do (Nanami’s disclaimer about explicit content always makes me laugh), but that’s okay because I’ll still respect the model makers’ overall wishes.  The MMD community needs to regroup after this round of drama and fracturing and return to supporting the fun and amusing program that MikuMikuDance is.

About: Joe Mello

19 thoughts on “MMD’s Major Model Drama”

  1. Oh gawd! Finally someone else in the peanut gallery that can speak english and reach out to others D: <3

    The Fanmade culture is WAY overblown with "OC"s that look too suspiciously like very popular others…and the bastardization of already made characters totally doesn't help. Parodies are funny, but when it wasn't meant to parody to prove a point it truly is just crappy fanmade stuff.

    The withdrawal of Ms. Watabe's models made me sad ) :

  2. Hm, see, I was at the top of this for a while.
    In January, Nanami forced on a password system for the models.
    In April, someone was confused (having been told by a false "translator" that it was okay to edit them) and edited the models, blowing a fuse from Nanami and causing him/her to block off the access to the models to anyone except from Japan.
    In June, Nanami re-opened access to other countries, albeit with password.
    And at the beginning of July, some moron with a really cocky attitude (you ought to hear that person talk, it's absolutely ridiculous) redistributed, despite the warnings not to redistribute and despite the fact that access was now open to all countries. Nanami took the models down altogether.

    I hear Anomaro is considering taking down his models, and I think kio took down his miki model.

    It may have been my fault, since I assisted many people during the password/blockoff time to get the models (legitimately), and someone may have turned on me. I tried to keep it within people who I knew would never give it out, or maybe someone just figured it out. I apologize if it's my fault. Either way, I hope Nanami calms down.

    If I ever edit models, I always get permission from the maker of the original (I've already gotten permission directly from one that speaks English). Nanami has made it clear that he/she will never, ever give permission.

    Part of the problem is that a lot of people actually apply for "translators" to get permission from the makers themselves, but the translators falsely say they got permission when they actually didn't. I don't know why a translator would lie like that, but there you go.

    Either way, editing models is frowned upon, even though I agree that the makers are overreacting.


  3. Well, to me, Nanami Watabe did overreact a bit… But she had her reasons. She was proud of her work (with reason), and people were just cranking it out without respect. I know what happened, and where she crossed the line between redistributing models or not was when a friend of mine got fooled by a girl into thinking he had permission to edit the models because said girl talked to her (that girl's argument smelled like BS since the start, but on the internet, we never know).

    And not only Nanami, but other editors plan on removing their models as well because of Youtube editing and redistributing without permission. I know edited models that had permission from original authors and these models and their respective authors are free from charge, but I've seen so many "Tsahune Kimu" (no offence to whoever named their fancharacter like that) edits without permission out there it makes me cry. I don't edit PMD (only did a recolor of Kaito from his model that came with MMD, but gave up shortly after), and I don't know how much job it is to do so, but I'm pretty sure making it from scratch is much more freaking complicated; I tried and didn't understand shuiat on how to do this.

    If I were Nanami, I'd probably only take off if someone was, well, selling my models; I'd be doing them for free, and wouldn't profit with that, while other people would be profitting out of other people's hard work. And well, let's hope it doesn't happen (even though it seems to be walking in that direction).

    Sorry for the long rant… It's just that I'd be pretty PO'd if someone pitched/added effects in my UTAUloid and redistributed without crediting me.

  4. Nanami is a 40 year old guy not a girl.
    Plus, what ticks me off is that people SOMEHOW got ahold of the models and think they are king of the world and showing it off like the asshats they are. ESPECIALLY THE ONES ON YOUTUBE AND DEVIANTART.
    Justice doesn't prevail to the ones who REALLY want to use the models, such as myself and tried breaking the password, but it wouldn't work and some people are just too SNOBBY to share.

  5. One thing that kinda irked me is when Nanami restricted the models to only people living in Japan. I realize that he didn't want people spreading them and doing things he didn't want them to do, but the Japanese are just as capable of pirating and distributing as the "foreigners".(which only speak english, it would seem) We translators got in a pickle when many translations were getting removed from Youtube despite giving proper credit because many did not ask the author to translate it. Luckily, things have worked out and the relationship between author and translator is increasing. I hope that soon that will be the case for MMD model makers and the users.

  6. I'm sad this happened. It's ridiculous on both sides of the fight.
    Nanami is male.
    Lolololol to all that thought otherwise. But that aside, the people who uploaded the models did do it in good interest, knowing that Nanami was never going to release his models again. It's only expected that someone would upload the no longer accessible files so everyone could share and be happy.

    But it seems that everyone is too stuck up to allow someone else to tell them what to do.

    Nanami overreacted for sure.
    But that Re-uploader is just… Ugh.

  7. Um. I happen to heared that Nanami recently; he/she says that she only gives out he/she’s modles for people close to her or some thing like this. If I’m wrong please correct me. Gomen for horrible Engrish. Demo; I am still learning. ^ ^ asdfghjkl \(;A ;)/

    1. Nanami is emailing the model data to people who ask in Japanese through email, but this is really hard to do when one only knows English and is trying hard not to tick him off…and when emailing in general is a lot of work.

    2. He/she said you didn't need to sound like too formal when emailing him/her for individual models. You're just not expected to "grow grass" or sound like he/she is your bff or something when you ask for it. (Best if you would actually attempt to type in Japanese too and to show that you do understand the situation and whatever.) You can also get them from "closed spaces" like the UTAU SNS or Nyappon!, if you have an account there.

  8. As much as I love the music for Vocaloid I don't really get the whole MMD thing. I suppose I understand getting mad if someone makes a profit for something you make for free. Props to the person for selling though and the idiot who bought it. However, this is the internet. Getting terribly upset about anything on the internet is an unneeded stress. I suppose I download the music that artists create. Instead of buying the CDs the artists make. However, I use their music for personal enjoyment and don't make a remake or remix to sell for my own. Here is how I sort of look at it. You want people to notice you, to like your models and like what you've created. You get the great idea to put on the internet where pirating old fashioned is a laugh. I understand, you're looking for acceptance and approval but you're looking for it in the wrong area. It's like an artist that has a pixiv site or their own personal site. Putting their art up and not expecting it to circulate. If you're going to work hard and want something for your hard work? Don't put your work on the internet. Ever. If you're going to? Be flattered that a ton of people like your work. Keep your personals to yourself and circulate the work that you want to. Be smart about it. It's wrong, yes, but it's not new that the internet cares not about personal wants/needs. Hell, there wouldn't be an anonymous if that were true. Would there?

  9. "Nanami is a 40 year old guy not a girl. "

    Unconfirmed. This is because of rumors spreading from "I heard from a friend of a friend that …".

    There has been no concrete source of evidence.

    1. Agreed. By my counts, there has been nothing to show that Nanami is a guy, but if you want to prove me wrong, I’ll take it.

      Also, if the person behind the Nanami persona wants to use a girl’s name and a feminine persona, who are we to say “no”?

  10. I miss you, Nanami. I was had Teto,Momo,Defoko,Mako,Inuhebi,Luna,Gumi and Nana. Also i was had these edited ones (they are not mine), Melo, Velo, Ted and Keko and i was made Defosuke. Nanami was took down his models. Anomaro. I got Black Rock Shooter, Dead Master, Maid Gunner, Girokaku, FL-Chan and Aku Yamine. And Kio took down his SF-A2 Miki. I will got the Animasa version of SF-A2 Miki. also, Comic artists Saboten will took down these models, (wich i had Nendoroid Miku) but i hate the Saboten Gumi and Yufu. My MMD buddy will make these own version of the UTAUs and Gumi (Animasa version) (SakineTeto was made Animasa Miki, Teto, Momo and Defoko) so far. I miss the MMD Community. I will make the website (with MMD ones). We miss you Nanami. :-'(

  11. Sort of disappointed at what happened, though considering the nature of the internet and MMD, it was bound to happen. The language barrier making things even more complicated. Though maybe I'm just being cynical, but even if language wasn't an issue, the same thing would've happened. We're going to be seeing a lot more of this in the future if certain mindsets don't change.

    The internet created a pretty strange thing–being able to own something without having a physical copy of it, which is how humans have done things since forever. This is something rather new to people who don't study the history of technology much. Ultimately, what will have to happen is that people on all sides will have to change what they believe on what it means to "own" something, and this is much easier said than done; creators will have to learn to be careful with what they release on the web because once they put it out, it's basically impossible to "recall" due to the very nature of the internet itself [which is why taking down stuff is pointless in the end since someone will still have it], and the "audience" [for a lack of a better word at the moment] has to learn to follow what the creator says about their work, whether they agree with it or not. The latter maybe harder to implement since they'll always be greedy people around… human nature and all.

    I do hope this doesn't mean the end of MMD.

  12. After reading, and then re-reading the message on Nanami's site, I'm beginning to wonder if it wasn't just redistribution that was the issue. I'm beginning to believe that it was either the drama that prompted Nanami to take down the models (if my stuff was making people fight and hate each other, I'd consider that option too), OR they were simply getting fed up with people 'asking' permission to edit. When it was written that it sounded like people were outright refusing to take no for an answer, maybe that's just what the translator' churning out when it should really say that all that e-mailing was counter productive. I remember when I was I took some Beyblades to summer camp. I gt swamped with "Can I try?" and eventually started saying "No." because there was no way I could keep up. Then some kid came along, stole them, and they were found later in the toilet… I just stopped taking things to camp because of greedy people like that who think they're entitled. Essentially the same relative scenario.

  13. I'm a newcomer to MMD and an aspiring artist, I'm sad that I missed the chance to get the models. But can understand both sides of the argument. Nanami is an artist and has rights to his/her artwork. It was just those arrogant jerks that messed it all up. They missused the internet and shared the files, took credit and redistributed without Nanami's premission.
    Sometimes I just wish the internet was never invented so that we didn't have to go through all this.

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