I’ve had this thought for some decades. But I haven’t said out loudly.
So, let’s say that Mike really loves anime A. He, living overseas, torrents the series and watches it. He loves it so much that he even reads scanlation.
And finally he proclaims that he is a huge fan of the author’s work.
Here lies (my) problem. Should he call himself a fan when all he has done is steal? He has never spent a dime to support the author. He may love his work and may closely follow him. But what has he done to support the work he absolutely loves?
The reality is: He has done nothing to support what he really enjoys. You see such cases quite frequently. Youtubers asking not to skip ads is a prime example of asking for support if people enjoyed their content.
As a former scanlator myself, I’ve also seen such cases way too often. Some comment that’s it’s the best they’ve read. Yet when asked if they are willing to support authors by purchasing books and such, the voices go silent. Manga/manwha books aren’t expensive. Its price range is 5 ~ 10 USD depending on how premium material is. If shipping fee is an issue, digital versions are available nowadays.
Amazon has certainly done a good job making manga kindle versions available.
Human relationship is, and will always be, give & take. If person A has something to offer, person B pays for it in one way or another. This fundamental rule has been pretty broken in recent era though.
It’s mostly due to the internet. Taking digital goods without paying is a lot easier than taking physical goods where there are real consequences in doing so.
Even so, moral rules should still apply. If one enjoys another’s content, he should support the content creator. In the otaku world, that would mean purchasing DVD/Blu-ray disks when released. Or purchasing manga books when it’s out.
If Mike never actually spend any money to support his favorite content creator, should he still brand himself as a fan of his work?
In my opinion, that’s be a no. Mike has no right to call himself a fan of someone’s work if he never do anything to support what he enjoys. He can argue that he is giving moral support but that’d make me laugh because majority of manga authors struggle to make their ends meet.
However, it is not entirely Mike’s fault that they are struggling. Japan’s anime and manga industry is getting a little too crooked; middle men are taking way too much cuts. Still, the larger volume of sale, the more money authors will receive. I should cover this in another article.
To be clear, I am not against someone torrenting and reading scanlations. Just don’t proclaim to be fans when you’ve done nothing to support the cause.