- China's best Fansub moderators got arrested for offering unauthorized videos.
- Internet users groan with pain over the news.
- Of the few imported foreign shows every year, all are censored in some scenes.
On February 3, Shanghai Municipal Public Security Bureau hosted a special press conference that caused deep sadness all over the internet in China.
“The suspects have created several companies since 2018 with overseas servers. They download videos via illegal foreign torrent websites and hire translators to make Chinese subtitles for $60 per episode.
Their income comes from member subscription and ads fees. YYeTs owns over 8 million subscribers with more than 20,000 unauthorized videos. To destroy this criminal group with $2.5 million in illegal income, the police arrested 14 suspects and confiscated 20 cell phones, 12 computers and servers.”
YYeTs, the first two Ys are the inverted Chinese character for “people” while “eTs” stands for English TV Shows. In China, since only a few foreign series and movies are imported officially every year, Fansub emerged as a solution. Lots of university students would sign up for different Fansub teams to be volunteers.
For over a decade, YYeTs has been China’s leading Fansub, offering foreign (mostly English) TV series and movies with self-made Chinese subtitles. Among the many Fansubs in China, YYeTs enjoys the best reputation due to their high video resolution and outstanding translation quality, which explains why the announcement by Shanghai police has incurred so many complaints online.
Below the posts of related news on Weibo, most comments are mourning. Internet users consider it the end of an era. “Where are we supposed to go from now on if we want to watch foreign shows?”
On Zhihu, several threads were created to discuss the consequences of the incident. “I’m totally in favor of paying for watching shows. However, the problem is, the government heavily limits the number of foreign shows to be introduced every year, all of which get censored in some scenes. There is no legal way for us to watch the shows we like on any accessible website.”
With over 8 million subscribers, their entire income was barely above $2.5 million, most of which is dedicated to cover the cost of translators and equipment, which means the average profit from each subscriber is minimal.
There are other rumors too. Some informants say that the old YYeTs divided into three different companies in 2017 due to conflicts between the moderators. Those arrested are the ones that have been trying to commercialize YYeTs and to make profits from it.
The other two companies are not affected at this time, who dedicate themselves only to making subtitles without offering the downloading or streaming of the videos. They claim that the YYeTs we see nowadays are no longer what they used to be, that it has become a blood-sucking monster exploiting volunteer translators. However, one way or another, it’s a huge loss for many.
YYeTs’ slogan is “Sharing makes the world more colorful.” Because of it and many other Fansubs, the island had a bridge to the continent. Maybe someday, The People’s wishes can be satisfied legally and reasonably, and there will be no more need for these internet providers to wander in the gray areas.