I hate how expensive R2J DVDs are

I like Shoukoushi Cedie very much, which was surprising to me since I usually don't go for family-oriented shows unless a cute orphan girl is the protagonist, which, as it turns out, is the case often enough that I actually end up watching such shows frequently. Cedie proves though that it's not just traps and ludicrously optimistic orphan girls bereft of their parents by whom I can be moesaserareta.

Because I’m not an encoder I rarely need full DVDs. The only time I do is when good raws are not available. Sometimes I get DVDs that I never watch. Sometimes I’ll get the first disc in a multi-disc series, intending to decide if it’s worth it to get the rest only after watching the beginning. The trouble is that these DVDs sometimes sit around for months or even more than a year before I watch them, by which time the rest of the discs are often unavailable. Sometimes the rest of the discs are never available in the first place, such as with はいからさんが通る and キャンディ・キャンディ, neither of which ever had official Japanese DVD releases as far as I know.

I’ve got the first four discs of Shoukoushi Cedie. A nice bonus about the DVDs are that it’s one of the few series to have Japanese subtitles, which, other than subtitles in your native language, are about the most helpful thing in the world when, like me, you don’t speak the language in which the dialogue is spoken. All DVDs and Blu-ray discs should have subtitles in my opinion. I usually turn the subtitles on when I watch movies or TV shows in English, too. I just prefer being able to confirm what I think I’m hearing by reading it simultaneously. Either that or my English is even worse than I realise it is.

The problem is that I just can’t get the rest of the DVDs. I have similar problems with other shows that I’d like to watch, too. I want to watch 巴里のイザベル but I can’t find any DVDs. I can find it on Amazon, but the only two sellers who ship internationally on there, one with a new copy and one with a used copy, are charging JPY 30000 and 50000, respectively. The series is only 13 episodes. It should be about JPY 2000. Sometimes I see 13 episode series of relatively unpopular shows like this for JPY 500 on Yahoo! Auctions.

I wanted to watch さすらいの少女ネル very badly at one time. I looked at Amazon and saw that the only seller who ships internationally was selling a used copy of the DVD box for JPY 60000. That’s nearly USD 800. This is almost as ridiculous as the price for the Card Captor Sakura special Blu ray box set that came out recently. Yahoo! Auctions is a bit better, but I’ve only seen copies of the show on there a couple of times for JPY 10000 to 20000 and none of the sellers would ship internationally. With a proxy service I’d still be looking at USD 300+ for a lousy DVD of a feel good kids story based on a book I could buy for USD 2. Thankfully ARR released rips. I love ARR.

I was looking for at least two years for a copy of the 野ばらのジュリー DVDs. There’s only four of them. It’s a short series. Someone finally made them available, by the way, but this was another series I had considered buying because it was so rare in digital form. If I had, I’d be out JPY 49000.

These aren’t even World Masterpiece Theatre shows. Those are more expensive. They don’t release DVD boxes that contain the entire series for those shows; they release a “complete version” which condenses the entire series into only a few episodes. These are actually relatively inexpensive, but why would I want them?

One show that I’ve mentioned I really like before is 風の中の少女 金髪のジェニー which is loosely based on Stephen Collins Foster’s childhood and did not, I repeat not, make me drag my morose, inconsolable Sunggie-clad self out of my desk chair, and drape myself in a comforter as I groped about in the dimly lit room for my weeping companion teddy bear Sniffles because he knows the telephone number for the Tennessee Valley Authority. That most certainly did not happen.

I did cry when I saw the price the same Marketplace seller at Amazon who had the above items for sale was charging for the Jeanie DVD boxes: JPY 64000 and 59000 for volumes one and two. That’s 1579 dollars! Of course, nobody will purchase these items. It would be much cheaper to buy from sellers who do not ship internationally and use a shipping proxy in a case like this, but even if I did, I could expect to pay more than 200 dollars. Maybe that’s reasonable for some people, but it’s still too high for to make it practical for me.

There are other shows I want, too. They all cost too much money though. Proxy shipping services are impractical for low value items like DVDs, but I must either use such a service or pay hundreds and hundreds of dollars for these DVDs from the few sellers who do ship internationally.

This is one of the ways copyright infringement by duplication via Internet can be rationalized. You may think it’s immoral to duplicate some DVDs without permission and then proceed to enjoy them for free. But then, when you see that it would actually cost around USD 500 for many of these series, some of which are unpopular and short, you may no longer think it so immoral. Shoukoushi Cedie is a Sekai Meisaku Gekijou series and has 10 volumes, each of which are about JPY 3000 for domestic buyers. That’d be JPY 30000 for a domestic buyer. If I used Shopping Mall Japan service I’d pay an additional USD 35 plus various other fees for an order like that, not to mention domestic shipping and international shipping, which is always expensive with Japan Post. On the one hand I understand that international mail needs to be expensive because the transportation, inspection, and other costs are very high for any type of postal system, but I’m used to USPS prices. I can send a book from New York to Guam for USD 3.50 and probably have it arrive in less than a week. 30000 Yen is about 400 dollars, plus 35 dollars, plus a few dollars for domestic shipping, plus about 30 dollars for international shipping, plus a few more dollars for other fees, and you’ve got a pricetag of nearly 500 dollars for used DVDs of a show from the 1980s. When I think of it this way, I can’t really think of duplication of such DVDs as immoral.

Days 8-12

Speak up, you idiot. Don't you know I'm sitting in the middle of a lecture hall!?

Abstract here.

Day #Offences for male students (within 5 minutes of start of class) #Total offences for male students (inclusive)
8 0 5
9 3 4
10 4 4
11 1 3
12 2 3
Day #Offences for female students (within 5 minutes of start of class) #Total offences for female students (inclusive)
8 5 10
9 8 11
10 7 9
11 5 8
12 4 4
Day #Total offences(Male + Female) %Offenders [%Offenders(adjusted)]
8 15 30%[50%]
9 15 30%[50%]
10 13 26%[43.333%]
11 11 22%[36.666%]
12 7 14%[23.333%]

I’ve been getting a lot of false positives from Comodo these days

I'm so irresponsible; I had actually forgotten I was using Comodo DNS until now. I only did it because the entry to nyaa.eu propagated to Comodo DNS almost a whole day before Verizon the last time it was down.

It makes me feel a little bit better about this site being in various blacklists, including Avast’s, that the main website of the host itself is blocked by Comodo. It shows that lots of innocent people get in these lists, even businesses. It’s not just their DNS though; I’ve been having weird false alarms going off with lots of well-known, safe programs lately. It must have been a recent update, since I’ve been using Comodo firewall for a few years and I’ve had very few problems. Granted, I had to hire Professor Frink to help me open ports in the dozen different panes you have to repeat the same basic rule in, but once I got it working correctly, it more or less stayed that way. You really do need to be crazy aggressive in reading documentation to properly open ports in this firewall though. Even once you figure it out, you may not know that you still have to make a few more global rules or move some other rules around so that your new rule has higher priority than other rules that might nullify it. It’s not intuitive at all. Just clicking “Treat as trusted application” doesn’t cut it, unfortunately. But once you figure out the practical aspects of using the firewall, it seems fine. It does its job and even has a useful feature where you can view the IP addresses to which each program you’re running are connecting. You can expand and collapse lists of IP addresses for different programs. TCPView had this feature but it crashes if there are too many entries, which is almost always the case if you’re running a P2P program. It’s a useful feature when you know a program is phoning home and you want to block the IP address it’s connecting to.

Anyway, it’s the “Defense+” and “Sandbox Security” features that have been giving some funny false positives lately. For example, since an update or two ago it’s been prompting me to run Silkroad and VLC in the sandbox whenever I try to launch them. It makes sense that it would recognise SRO as something potentially dangerous since Gameguard is basically a rootkit, but VLC is surprising. There was another one too that I now forgot. I think it was NeroAACEnc but it might have been something else audio-related. In any case, it’s mildly frustrating. It’s not frustrating enough to make me want to switch back to ZoneAlarm, which gave me many BSODs for some reason, but it’s still a minor annoyance. Like brushing one’s teeth.

I should really be ashamed at what I waste my time watching and why

I took this screenshot because I thought it would be useful for the next time I needed a good picture for one of those "I came" images but then I felt guilty using this show for that so I'm going to trail off now...

I’m such a hypocrite. I pretend like I’m some connoisseur of TV but I just watch whichever show has cute character designs, a catchy gimmick, or voice actors with whom I’m enamoured. Chihayafuru is appealing for most of the same reasons that watching Pokemon is and episode 09 really made clear to me why. The viewer is the protagonist, Chihaya, and looks forward to every episode/day in which opportunity is provided for her to overcome one of life’s obstacles, recruit a member for her club, increase her experience points, or get a kansetsu kiss from Miyano Mamoru. Episode 09 was the quintessential training camp episode in which the clubmembers go to the house of one of its members to practise. The protagonist’s variegated array of teammates, from the nerdy Tsukue-kun to the normal girl Kanade to the allstar bishounen Taichi, are all the viewer’s friends and it’s my relationship with them, not some fictional protagonist’s, that are slowly improving and bestowing significance upon my tender developmental years. It’s my aching otomegokoro, not hers. This isn’t healthy but it’s why we watch TV. It’s just more apparent in josei and kids shows than elsewhere that this is our motivation for watching. I nearly let myself watch Nana as a result of a similar need for vicarious emotional discharge but mustered up sufficient shame to avoid that pitfall just in the nick of time.

Neither the director nor the writer draw your attention to it quite as blatantly when it comes to gaining experience points in the real world. I did laundry today but I don’t feel like my competence level as a human has increased all that much for it, nor do I feel the sense of satiety or completeness that gets underscored at the resolution phase of each story in shows like Pokemon and Chihayafuru. Problems arise, tension builds across an episode or several but, eventually — and most importantly before the viewer falls into despair from beginning to perceive the show as a “downer” and risk dismissing it on those grounds — the problem gets resolved and we all feel that we’ve overcome one of the hurdles of childhood and we’re one step closer to fulfillment, maturity, and satisfaction. In TV World everything happens for a useful reason; each time we resolve a problem we get noticeably better at life. Our skillset gets filled out, our minds expanded, or our hearts opened to something new. It’s an enjoyable experience because TV concentrates this development into a few short minutes at the end of an episode instead of allowing it to take the more diffuse, less noticeable form it manifests itself in in daily life, a form nowhere near dense enough to function as the emotional payload of a TV episode.

But just like caffeine, prolonged use means I’m needing this in ever larger doses. Real life wasn’t cutting it from the beginning, but now even TV isn’t saccharine enough for me. Chihayafuru and Tamayura Hitotose are but I don’t know what I’m going to do next season. I’ve been watching a lot of Sekai Meisaku Gekijou lately because they exclusively adapt stories that fulfill the above formula. It’s not enough though and on a practical level, I can’t buy from Yahoo! Auctions and not all of the seasons are available on Share. Ghibli is good for honeyed fairy tales, but I’ve used those films up.

Industry, do you hear me? Forget robots, explosions, and sport shows; spin more syrupy accounts of growing pains that I may watch from under a snuggly warm blanket with my wet sleeves and carton of melancholy flavoured ice cream.

Hehe, SOPA and PIPA would probably obligate us to block access to online libraries like this one

I'm starting to suspect that Lamar Smith introduced this bill as part of his sinister scheme to force libraries to close so he'll be able keep that copy of Tropic of Cancer he borrowed from the public library in 1971.

The Author’s Guild as well as a bunch of other associations of authors including some Canadian, Australian, and Swedish groups, are suing the damned library over IP infringement.

I recently read The Ark Sakura by one of my all time favourite authors, Kobo Abe. When I added it to my LibraryThing book collection I noticed that it lists among the various editions of the book “Ebooks: 1 pay”. So I clicked the link and a window with a link to HathiTrust, an organization I had never heard of before, opened up.

Nonetheless, I could tell immediately that this was something I would like. I did a quick Google search and found out that it’s an organization that has been undertaking a massive digitization process of vast quantities of both public domain and currently copyrighted content in cooperation with Google Books and their army of scanner monkeys.

The coalition of whiners claim that HathiTrust has engaged in, “…systemic, concerted, widespread and unauthorized reproduction and distribution of millions of copyrighted books and other works” All of this, they allege, “…without the permission of their authors or other copyright holders”

Yeah, according to the complaint, they have (let me suppress the drooling) 435 TB of content and 73% of their content is copyrighted.

These folks also want to stop the “Orphan Works Project” by which orphaned copyrighted works would have been made available to college kids.

HathiTrust, in its defence, said what they were doing was fair use. I have to agree with the IP holders in their basic assertion of “that dog won’t hunt”. On the other hand, suing a library is really about as close as you can get in real life to the quintessential superman villain level of nefariousness.

Of course, you could say that what these libraries are doing is no different from what people do at thepiratebay and you’d be right. The difference between what HathiTrust are doing and what brick and mortar (I hate this neologism so much) libraries do is that somebody at some point on the supply chain did purchase each and every one of those books. I don’t know how physical libraries get their books, but I suspect most of them are either bought or donated. If they’re donated, then the donator probably purchased them or received permission to donate them at some point. Those books are paid for. If there’s only one copy of the Atlas Shrugged coffee table book in the whole establishment and somebody has already borrowed it when I visit the library, I’ll be forced to seek my casual brunchtime Tea Party propaganda elsewhere.

With a digital library, Google can scan the book from one physical copy (or several so they can scan more than one page at a time…I’d love to see the setup they use at Google Books) and then HathiTrust can make that available to countless students. Even if the library is not available outside the university network, that’s still many tens of thousands of people who will have free access to the content and there wouldn’t be any problem if 50,000 of them all wanted to borrow This is Herman Cain! at once because they could easily do so.

Indeed, they wouldn’t even have to “return” the books. According to the DMCA, libraries can make digital copies of copyrighted works in their collection without permission as long as the files are not used outside the library. This sounds, to me at least, like the law is basically saying that digital copies are fine as long as they’re burdened with uncrackable DRM or some phone-home mechanism that would prevent a library patron from “borrowing” the digital book and then printing it, making a copy, backing it up, sharing it by P2P, converting it to another format, etc… As long as the copyrighted digital content the library makes available is locked down enough so that it’s not possible to distribute or alter, it sounds like everything is fine and dandy.

I know that JSTOR violates this provision of the DMCA blatantly, but that’s another story, although I do approve of it in purely ethical terms.

In any case, I just thought that this was a pretty amazing thing that’s going on. I’m always surprised by all of the digital content that my university gives us access to just by virtue of being students. They’ve never met me before; for all they know I could be archiving all the stuff they allow me to access (DRM free, I might add) and redistributing it.

Make no mistake though; I say all of this not to discourage libraries and universities from doing this. I just want to emphasize that there really are bad apples out there. Nonetheless, we shouldn’t let the reality that some people will abuse the system deter us from having libraries and other nice things in the first place (teehee: I just got a mental image wherein Internet access was declared an inalienable right and hobos gleefully fire up the computers to watch pornography in the public libraries). What these universities do may be illegal, but I think it’s ethical nonetheless. I view it as an extension of the concept of a public library. Public libraries have been exempt from some aspects of copyright law for a long time. Before widespread use of computers, libraries were still allowed to make up to three copies of copyrighted works within the library without permission from the copyright holder as long as the copy was being made to replace an old or unusable copy that would then be discarded (or maybe it had to be destroyed…I don’t remember). The point is that only a fringe minority of people think that libraries should be condemned as IP infringers. Rather few people believe that we should outlaw public libraries. In that vein, I view scanning, OCRing, and making available for free download copyrighted works via the Internet or university intranetworks as a logical extension of the concept of a public library. Again, it seems obvious that it’s illegal, but I do not think this means it’s unethical. Just like how I applaud scofflaw Aaron Swartz, I support what HathiTrust is doing here. It’s courageous and just.