What is scanlation? Scanlation is the process of scanning, translating, and editing foreign comics to modify the work into another language. Here in the United States, scanlation typically means translating and editing Japanese manga into English.
Scanlation has always found itself in a moral gray area. While publishers and other professionals tend to see scanlation as copyright infringement and a threat to sales, fans and scanlators defend their actions by pointing out that scanlation helps raise awareness of lesser known Japanese titles that might otherwise go unnoticed. In some cases, scanlation helps build hype for a popular series before its release. Scanlators often scanlate unlicensed manga, something many fans consider completely acceptable. There are even rumors of publishers deciding which manga to license next based on the popularity of scanlated manga.
The purpose of this feature is to provide a (hopefully) comprehensive history of the world of scanlation, not to argue as to the legality of scanlation. What you will find here are facts and stories told by people who have been involved in the scanlation scene, some active and some retired. Of course, all articles dealing with scanlation inevitably find themselves containing sensitive (to some degree) information and links. The purpose of this article is to provide a history and overview of the scanlation world, nothing more.
Now, with the obligatory introduction out of the way, let's get started!