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Poll: Ethically acceptable?
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  #1  
Old 2009-10-31, 07:21
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Default Phantom of Inferno PC version patch

Phantom of Inferno, Hourglass of Summer and the other AnimePlay DVDs only run barely on most systems, and even then play way too slow for most people to enjoy. Seeing how Hirameki went bellyup anyway, maybe it's an option to work out a patch implementing their translation in the PC version.
To prevent obvious piracy it should be possible to check for Hirameki's Phantom/Hourglass/whatever DVD during installation, but it would be very difficult to automate the conversion process. Therefore the (hypothetical) patch most likely WILL contain the full English script, copyrighted by Hirameki International.

Would you consider it ethically acceptable to distribute Hirameki's translation, now that they don't exist anymore?


Edit: To clear things up, here's a short factlist for those who are not sure what this topic is all about:
- Hirameki International released these game in English on standard video DVDs, "playable" (if you're lucky) on any old-fashioned standalone DVD player. This DVD system sucks (trust me).
- Other than the DVD versions, there are also PC versions of these games in Japan.
- It is entirely possible to "steal" the translations from the English DVD video disc and use them to create a translation patch for the Japanese PC version.
- Hirameki International closed down on january 2nd 2008: http://www.hirameki-int.com/
- Phantom is a Nitro+ title, and JAST USA currently holds licenses on several other Nitro+ titles. As far as I know they haven't said a word about obtaining Phantom of Inferno, or about trying to obtain it.
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  #2  
Old 2009-10-31, 08:51
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Message, IMHO it's even acceptable to fix grammar errors of their PC versions as well. :3
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  #3  
Old 2009-10-31, 09:28
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The copyright I believe lasts for 70-75 years in the US, and the original Japanese companies still hold their copyrights to the Japanese games.

As for the rights and licensing of the games: I am not familiar with the law myself, but I believe that when Hirameki went bankrupt the power to license these games for release in America returned to the original company. Which means that in the case of Phantom, Nitro+ regains the ability to license the rights to whomever they please, including their new partner, JAST-USA. Since it's possible this partnership may result in an official re-licensing of the game (or may already have depending on the deal made between the two companies), I do not think this type of patch should be attempted with Phantom and other Nitro+ titles.

One thing I do know from experience, is that the licensing company holds the copyright of the English translation/localization which they created. So while Nitro+ and the other Japanese companies regain the right to license their games for localization to whomever they choose, the original localization company (Hirameki in this case) holds all copyrights to their version of the localized product. So while the creation of an entirely new translation would fall under the same category as any other game, the adoption of Hirameki's text would be an infringement upon their copyright.

The real question that must be answered is do they still hold their copyrights now, even after bankruptcy? I have no idea what the law is, but I believe Hirameki would have the choice to retain the copyrights for the purpose of selling them and paying off debtors. If they sold the copyrights, they belong to whomever purchased them, and use of the English text would violate the rights of the buyer. If they did not sell them, perhaps they may have absolved the copyrights, in which case all is fair game. If they retained the copyrights, but have not sold them, I believe it would be an illegal infringement on their copyright, but they would probably also lack the ability to prosecute over it as well. Thus, I don't think a clear decision can be made about adopting Hirameki's translation without more information on what happened when they filed bankruptcy.

tl;dr: Nitro+ games and games from other companies with licenses to other localization teams: no, don't do it. Games with no such agreements in place: I'm not sure.
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Old 2009-10-31, 10:33
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Hmmm... I just heard that Phantom Integration is not at all so similar to Phantom of Inferno DVD. Most importantly, there's a lot more text in it and it doesn't have voices. So at least for Phantom, even if we just skipped the extra game content, it wouldn't be a real port to PC at all... I guess that would make that particular project kind of moot.





Oh yeah, and I forgot to mention: Yes it is/isn't illegal, we all know it is/isn't illegal, and we all don't care whether or not it's illegal. Not in this thread, anyway. Because legality is not on-topic in this thread.

Please. PLEASE do not discuss legality in this thread.

Thank you.
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  #5  
Old 2009-10-31, 11:07
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Who cares about Phantom, I want someone to make a patch for Hourglass of Summer PC already D:

And preferably throw in the PS2 voices as well, because they revoiced the PC version with 18禁 seiyuu and I prefer 非18禁 ones.
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Old 2009-10-31, 11:38
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Message View Post
Oh yeah, and I forgot to mention: Yes it is/isn't illegal, we all know it is/isn't illegal, and we all don't care whether or not it's illegal. Not in this thread, anyway. Because legality is not on-topic in this thread.
Most of the time, I couldn't care less whether such projects are legal or not. However, I personally do care about intentions and the message being sent to the creators/copyright holders.

Creating a patch installer that reads the script from the Hirameki DVD and patches the translation of the PC game? Sounds great to me! (We respect your rights and we really liked your translation, so we're making it possible for your true fans to enjoy this game. We even went out of our way to integrate OCR into our installer to reduce the amount of your content we're actually distributing.) This case in my opinion would follow the spirit of the law, even for times when it wouldn't be following the letter of the law.

Ripping the translation and bundling the voices from the DVDPlay version and distributing that as a patch? Sounds fishy to me! (We don't really care about whether you hold the copyright or not; we're using the translation. Oh and the way you designed the PC game sucked; we're going to improve your game by using the PS2 voices, which you, the PC game maker, wouldn't even have rights to use!) This case in my opinion would not follow the spirit of the law.
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  #7  
Old 2009-10-31, 11:46
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Legally I'm not to sure this is a stellar idea, however, many things tend to be illegal pertaining towards things such as this. Ethnically, I deem this acceptable. If and only if the Hirameki company is not filled with miscreant individuals, I do believe that they would accept, since they are making no more money on it as being bankrupt, a version of their work to be distributed easier to the public. Though it will be revised, it will assist others in receiving a better translated and easier to play version. Morally, assisting other humans tend to be a virtue in which people accept.
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Old 2009-10-31, 11:59
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zalas View Post
Creating a patch installer that reads the script from the Hirameki DVD and patches the translation of the PC game? Sounds great to me! (We respect your rights and we really liked your translation, so we're making it possible for your true fans to enjoy this game. We even went out of our way to integrate OCR into our installer to reduce the amount of your content we're actually distributing.)
Integrating OCR into the installer is probably not possible. They very often get things wrong, so proofreading will be required all around.

Quote:
Originally Posted by zalas View Post
Ripping the translation and bundling the voices from the DVDPlay version and distributing that as a patch? Sounds fishy to me!
Agreed, but that's probably even less an option than the above. The voices are integrated into the MPEG audio track, mixed together with music and soundeffects. (Though I do recall the music in Hourglass being mostly in the rear channels, while voices were center or front.)

I was more thinking of the inbetween: distro the translation, but nothing else. If not for Phantom, this should at least be possible for Hourglass of Summer. Assuming that was voiced on the PC, anyway...
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  #9  
Old 2009-10-31, 14:39
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There are fan-translations going on for a lot newer games than Phantom of Inferno, many of which don't use nearly any way to make sure that reader owns original Japanese copy(this ranges from simply files that you paste into game folder, to NNL's ef release). So, doing simply patch for game that's soon ten years old and which is very hard to find as new in west sounds entirely reasonable.
But from what I've seen, Hirameki's translation of Phantom has lots of errors, so just simple proofreading wouldn't do. Entire retranslation of some parts would be required, which would be an effort I'd be ready to support if it ever came to happen.

Then there's the deal with different versions of Phantom. It would be ideal to translate Integration, often considered to be the best version of the game, even if it doesn't feature voices. There is the PS2 version with voice acting, but with differing content. So it might be a bit problematic to make a voice patch with that.
Well, it's not like western readers aren't used to un-voiced games. I imagine many people liked Tsukihime fine even though there wasn't any voices in it.
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Old 2009-10-31, 14:41
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Yes. Please. I'm not in the translation community so I'm unfamiliar with the boundaries you guys draw for unethical/illegal activities, but you can be sure that you'll have the full support of at least one fan out there. I've been wanting to play Phantom for a long, long time, but I absolutely hate the DVD system. I even have a legit copy of the game!
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  #11  
Old 2009-10-31, 15:15
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Definite "yes" from me as well. I've made some attempts to extract the translation from the DVD in the past, and if it was easy enough to automate the process I would've definitely made such a patch. (But soon realized that was a rather naive idea and gave up)

Ethically speaking, I consider everything which a company did "wrong" (either because of unrealistic licensing terms or too commercial thinking or whatever else is going on in the minds of the management), but which is fixable by a group of amateurs, "ethical". And whatever the reason for the DVD format was, I can't consider that playable. Like many other people, the DVD format is the only reason why I haven't played Phantom of Inferno yet. An unsanctioned patch is therefore perfectly fine with me.
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  #12  
Old 2009-10-31, 15:26
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Is it possible to ask them? Sure Hirameki closed down, but they're not dead are they.
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  #13  
Old 2009-10-31, 17:39
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Unless you have the written consent of both Hirameki and Nitro+, I'm pretty sure that what you have in mind is illegal. However, I think ethics trump legality (for the longest time, it was illegal to have English and French printed in the same size on Quebec signs). If you intend to use your own translation of the text (you'd have to anyway unless you planned on leaving Ending #11, Looking Up at the Moonlit Sky, in Japanese), then you'd have my full support.

Nitro+ released a new demo of Phantom Integration during the airing of Requiem for the Phantom, so it's entirely possible that JAST would capitalize on this by producing their own localization of the game while interest in the franchise is re-invigorated. If I were you, I'd contact JAST via their forums (they don't seem to be replying to emails right now) to see if they intend to reissue / retranslate the game. There's always the possibility that they might give this kind of project their blessing (MangaGamer did so with Higurashi no Naku Koro ni, and JAST had no qualms with NNL continuing to host their fansub of the Family Project opening).

From a practical perspective, I think you'd be better off trying to incorporate the voices from the PS2 version of the game into Integration in the same manner as others have done with Kanon, Fate, and Utawarerumono. The English DVD version's audio is already mixed, so extracting the voice tracks would be much more difficult, if not impossible (and the quality of the ripped audio would be significantly worse). If I knew how, I'd have ripped the PS2 voices into the PC releases of Phantom and Hourglass of Summer myself (though I'd delete the plothole-inducing, shoehorned sex scenes in Hourglass).

I doubt that Hirameki still replies to emails, but please let me know if they do. I just found out that disc 3 of my copy of Ever 17 was misprinted, and I would love to get a proper replacement.

Full Disclosure / Useless Trivia / Shameless Ego-Stroking: I'm the author of the Phantom Guide at GameFAQs and have personally completed every AnimePlay DVD title Hirameki ever released. I have no major problems with the DVD format (provided I'm using AnyDVD to re-enable fast-forward); I'm more annoyed with the content cuts and blatant translation mistakes.
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Last edited by TDOMMX; 2009-10-31 at 18:30.
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  #14  
Old 2009-10-31, 23:42
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Offtopic:
Spoiler
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Old 2009-11-01, 02:27
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Personally I doubt if the people from Hirameki could agree to a Phantom reintegration (pun intended). They got the game from nitro+ more or less as a parting gift, so they'd probably forward the question to nitro+ instead of deciding for themselves. Them having already licensed stuff to JAST USA, ten bucks say they'd come back with a stern no.

Not sure about the other games... They're not Americans, so you'd still practically be asking a Japanese company.
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