ODEX is a Singaporean company that distributes licensed anime for local and regional. The majority of its products are past season anime series subbed in Chinese/English, distributed in VCD format (although some titles are available in DVD).
Symbol of Evil
ODEX’s products are not so popular with the local Otakus because of (1) latency, as most of the series are usually past season hits (2) poor quality in terms of product packaging (no bonus material, low-end video compression format) and thus has little collector’s value. Thus, ODEX had been suffering from poor sales. However, instead of improving on their product, the company decided to come down hard on those who download anime (raw/fansubs) off the Internet via torrent sites.
I wasn’t bothered about the Inquisition because I’m not an affected party. While the rest of the local otaku community went up in arms against ODEX, I didn’t five a guck about the anti-ODEX movement. In fact, I was watching with amusement. But yesterday I snapped after reading this article in the Straits Times.
ODEX is getting court orders to get the other ISP such as PacNet and Starhub to provide the identities of their users who allegedly downloaded anime off the Net.
Straits Times, 13 Aug 2007: StarHub must give names of illegal anime downloaders
For the legal stand, ODEX might have a case against anime downloaders who’re “infringing” the laws of intellectual property rights, much like how RIAA can clamp down on those who distribute digital music files (ripped from the original CDs). But I wonder will RIAA go against those people who distribute the tape-recorded or streamed version of the music grabbed off radio shows? I view fan-subbed anime as a totally different kettle of fish – that is, those anime series recorded off the TV channels, subbed and then shared among friends (it’s a different case if the anime was ripped off a DVD distribution). After all, it’s totally legitimate to record TV shows for our own private viewing, right?
I think its still a gray area – and fan-subs aren’t meant for commercial distribution. I don’t think anyone would have cared if ODEX went after bootleggers who re-packaged fan-subbed anime for sale, or those who sold pirated copies of the original DVD/VCDs. Instead, ODEX mounted a witch hunt on those who would be their potential paying customers (although some may argue that these freeloaders wouldn’t pay at all).
I was chatting with TJ Han sometime back about this ODEX saga. I felt that this company is definitely heading in the wrong direction in terms of its marketing strategy and income generation model. ODEX’s business practice is definitely not suited for the Web2.0 and post-Web2.0 economy. It’s an un-evolved dinosaur that’s lived beyond its expiry date.
I became pissed at what ODEX was doing. It appears that ODEX had bought rights to a long list of anime titles, and that apparently gave them the ‘monopoly’ over the distribution of content in Singapore. However, the titles that matter do not reach fans on time, in the right format nor in the right quality – and in a way depriving otakus of the right to enjoy their passion. And it appears that they’re making a quicker buck by sending litigation letters to anime downloaders, many of whom are students such as this poor chap here.
So far, I’ve contributed to ODEX’s bottom line with those Gundam Seed and part of Gundam Seed Destiny VCDs that I bought. I got the ODEX version because its an anime series that’s not worth hard disk space (ouch. I’m a Universal Century purist), but I’m still keen on watching.
My ODEX Collection
For those anime that I want to have in my video library, I’d buy the Japan release editions if possible. Else, I would settle for US or UK licensed editions, or even Taiwan licensed editions too. There’s certainly alternatives. Otakus are discerning consumers and they wouldn’t mind parting with their money as long as the product is of the right quality.
Now that this ODEX saga has gotten to me I have the option of joining the community of Netizens calling for boycott on that company. Or to put together a self-help group to help fellow otakus who’re being harassed by the lawsuits from ODEX. Or simply turn off the computer, sit in one corner, suck thumb and go cold turkey from the anime habit (or retreat into the MMORPG world).
I decided to do something good instead, that could earn me some karma points. It’s the Seventh Month after all. I should send the “Good Brothers” (好兄弟) ODEX products for them to bring back. That’s where ODEX truly belongs.
My Seventh Month Offerings
If you have ODEX stuff in your collection, maybe you should do the same too.
ODEX, on the way to Hell
I’m sure some of the “Good Brothers” are otaku and anime fans, too. I’m sure their relatives would have burnt them lots of video players. But I wonder if they’ve got enough content to watch. You might want to burn some DVDs but you wouldn’t really know what’s the region code down there in Hell. So VCD is a good bet – it’s code free. And ODEX has a huge inventory of VCDs.
ODEX, going to Hell
Oh, when making your burnt offerings, do keep in mind of the safety precautions! And please burn your offerings in the proper receptacles. Check with your local Seventh Month organiser or Residential Committee if you’re unsure of what to do. And, do keep a safe distance when the plastic is burning because it gives off a noxious odour.
By the way, if ODEX products becomes popular down there the company might need the right currency to do business with the “Good brothers” – so you might wish to send ODEX Hell Bank Notes (冥币) for their prosperity.
ODEX, GONE TO HELL