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.