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Odex Pte. Ltd. is a Singapore-based company that licenses and releases anime for local and regional Southeast Asian consumption. It was registered in 1998 to license, import and release overseas drama and animation into Singapore. It began distribution in 2000. Odex also sells programs to television stations in Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, such as NTV7, MediaCorp TV12 Central, MediaCorp TV Channel U and Starhub E-City Channel 56. Other than licensing, Odex also does English dubbing, translation and/or subtitling for other companies.

Odex is most well-known for taking legal action in 2007-2008 against home users who were allegedly illegally downloading anime videos from the Internet. In the course of Odex's attempt to take actions against home users, the ruling in 2008 by District Judge Ernest Lau's rejecting ODEX's request that Pacific Internet (PacNet) release subscriber data may have established important precedents for protecting online privacy of Internet users. The actions received extensive press and blog coverage, especially as they roughly coincided with similar attempts in the United States by the music industry to enforce against file sharing by home users. Issues of intellectual property, copyright protections and freedom of speech underlie these events.

Since the 2007 controversy, Odex seems to have been hiding from the public and engaging in stealth marketing with Takashimaya, Animax and Anime Festival Asia (AFA). It has been avoiding the use of it logo or company name in its products and events. (circa 2010) For example, in the past two AFA events, Odex took up one of the biggest spaces but the space it occupied was not labelled under Odex name. In 2010's Anime Festival Asia (AFA X), Odex took up the 2nd largest booth under its own name, making a strong presence with anime apparel and merchandise under its license.
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Business model

Odex Pte. Ltd. is a Singapore-based company that licenses and releases anime for local and regional Southeast Asian consumption. It was registered in 1998 to license, import and release overseas drama and animation into Singapore. It began distribution in 2000.

Other than licensing, Odex also does English dubbing, translation and/or subtitling for other companies.

Odex also sells programs to television stations in Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, such as NTV7, MediaCorp TV12 Central, MediaCorp TV Channel U and Starhub E-City Channel 56 and Animax.

Dubbing and subtitling

Odex's VCDs contain Japanese-language audio. Some releases also include Chinese dubbing. Subtitles are written in both English and Chinese, and are often copied from fansubs that Odex and its employees download (circa 2010).

Their DVD releases include Japanese-language audio. Some titles also ship with Chinese dubbing, and occasionally with dubbing done in English. Subtitling is also available for the DVD releases, containing English, Chinese and Malay subtitling.

Pricing

Odex anime are generally priced below those of United States or Japanese counterparts.

Odex claimed to have attempted to fight anime piracy by offering lower prices for their anime boxed sets. During this promotional period, a 13-episode VCD boxed set was sold for SGD$10 while a DVD boxed set went for SGD$20. However, users on numerous forums including SGCafe, XedoDefense and HardwareZone pointed out that reduced prices applied to only a few (handful) of the Odex anime titles. Further, critics asserted the anime were so old or relatively unpopular that nobody bothered about them. In addition, Odex did little promotion of the reduced prices, so few people knew about them as well.[2]

Odex claimed that revenues for 2006 were half that of 2005, which the company attributed to anime download piracy. Odex said that such piracy led to the company's decision in 2007 to enforce actions against downloaders.[3]

Product packaging

Odex VCD packaging has two silver strips at the top and bottom, with the words Original Japanese Animation along the side with its logo. The VCDs are packaged as square boxed sets, with a CD folder containing six discs with 13 episodes each.

The DVD boxed set is not packaged like the R1 and R2 sets, which come in one disc with two episodes, but as three discs with 12 episodes, using dual-layer DVDs.

History

  • 1998 - The company was founded in 1998 in Singapore to license and bring into the region videos ranging from drama to animation of all kinds.[4]
  • 1999 - Police raided GamesMart for peddling counterfeit game controllers and other accessories. GamesMart was set up in 1994 by Peter Go, who had earlier started Odex in 1998 and was also director of Odex.[5]
  • 2000 - Odex was formed as the animation section of GamesMart. The purpose of Odex was to license and bring Japanese animation into the region. This changed the company's direction by diverting it towards pirating and copying subtitles off fansubs instead of simply pirating games, and this was also the first step in the grand plan of subsequently, when the time was ripe, profiteering via lawsuits by sueing anime fans and the use of license-trolling in 2007.
  • 2003 - According to the AVPAS website, the Anti-Video Piracy Association of Singapore (AVPAS) is allegedly claimed to have been created in 2003. The Office of AVPAS resides right smack in Odex's headquarters. AVPAS's committee-in-charge is very coincidentally and conveniently led by Odex directors Peter Go and Stephen Sing.[6] There is no concrete proof of the date of its formation by other sources. The only reliable information regarding its formation and growth is the date of registration of its website in 2007
  • 2007 - AVPAS created a website.[7] Odex sent out letters to alleged downloaders of their licensed anime. The company did not fight video piracy that involved non-anime or non-Japanese films.[8]
  • 2007 - Odex demanded alleged downloaders to pay sums of between SGD$3000 to SGD$5000.
  • 2007 - On 2 September 2007, The Straits Times stated that the money Odex claimed from downloaders was for "compensation" and that there could be possible profit made.[9] As of October 2010, one two three years since then, Odex has still not released any information at all on its use of funds collected, although it stated it had to pay the ISPs for their work.
  • 2007 - On 4 September 2007, Odex director Peter Go was exposed by two letters to newspapers that he had been lying to the media when he said:
    • - Odex's poor subtitles were a result of tweaking subtitles to conform to BFC's requirements; BFC did not have such requirements
    • - that the Japanese and Korean animation industry were dying; those industries were having record growths
  • 2007 - Netizens pointed out articles on XedoDefense.org that had analyzed costs related to the cases and gave the possiblility that Odex was making millions in profits by making downloaders pay them sums of between SGD$3000 to SGD$5000.[10] The millions of dollars of profit is very plausible because of two contradicting points:
    • (1) Odex claimed that all the money that they demanded from the 400 downloaders were to purely pay for the costs. Hence, Odex is implying that its alleged costs are ($3000*400 and $5000*400) between SGD$1.2 million and SGD$2 million.
    • (2) According to EDUCAUSE, a "nonprofit association whose mission is to advance higher education by promoting the intelligent use of information technology", BayTSP reportedly has a minimum charge of US$3000 per month with a US$5000 setup fee. A six month tracking exercise as claimed by Odex would cost US$23000 or approximately S$35000, which is merely 3.5% of a million dollars. ie 2.92% of 1.2 million dollars or 1.75% of 2 million dollars.[11]
    • Many netizens - anime viewers and non-anime viewers alike - allege that Odex was seizing the opportunity to cover up for the losses it claimed to have suffered over the past few years.
    • In response to Odex's claims that it would have an external audit, XedoDefense pointed out that Odex's statement was doublespeak because "since the client is paying the auditor, there is an obvious conflict of interest" [12] and that it was possible for Odex to perform creative accounting and increase its costs of "enforcement" artificially and superficially by the fabrication of costs, creation imaginary costs and double-claiming.[13][14] Given the extremely dismayal track record of honesty from Odex and its directors, the possibility of Odex engaging in creative accounting and fabrications is rather likely.
  • 2010 - Odex brought its website back up, but only to provide a link to the MobTV website so that visitors can learn more about the Animetrix service that Odex is providing on MobTV. Odex distributed the Gundam 00 movie - A Wakening of the Trailblazer into a single Singapore theatre, released on the same day as Japan. There were two venues screening at Alliance Francaise and at Sinema after the first day premiere in Singapore. However, viewers have remarked that the quality of the screening was subpar, being very lacking in terms of brightness & contrast, audio quality, limited by the respective theatre's capabilities. Odex made a grand presence in Anime Festival Asia X (AFA X), being one of the two largest booths in the event hall. They brought in a wider range of Anime cushions and Anime apparel under their license. They also worked with AFA X organisers to put up the screening of Gundam 00 - A wakening of the Trailblazer and the Haruhi movie - The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya during AFAX.

Controversy and criticism

Script error

In reaction to falling sales and evidence of home users' downloading anime videos without payment, in 2007 Odex initiated actions to track users and demand settlement or litigation. It succeeded in gaining court orders for subpoenas for two ISPs to provide them with subscriber data for certain IP accounts. Odex settled out of court with many downloaders, who paid fees in lieu of litigation, ranging from about SGD$3000 to SGD$5000.[1]

In a press conference held on the 30 August 2007, Odex claimed that the crackdown "was meant to be just an enforcement" and not "a profiteering mission to get as much money from everybody." Odex also claimed that there was no fine involved, but about a third of the recipients preferred to settle with Odex for an undisclosed sum.[2] This caused a huge uproar among the online community, as many downloaders claimed that Odex had "threatened them with legal action" should they choose not to pay the fees. On 2 September 2007, The Straits Times stated that the money Odex claimed from downloaders was for "compensation" and that there could be possible profit made.[3] As of February 2008, Odex had not released detailed information on its use of funds collected, although it stated it had to pay the ISPs for their work.

There was extensive press and online community coverage of the actions by Odex. The anime community criticized it.[1][2][3][4][5][6][7][8][9][10][11][12]

Initial court hearings between Odex and the first two ISPs (SingNet and StarHub) were done behind closed doors. The newspapers reported that Odex had hired another firm to trace downloaders and their IPs. ODEX was successful in gaining a court order for subscriber data from these two ISPs.

In its third request for a court-ordered subpoena, for records of Pacific Internet (PacNet), ODEX was rejected by District Judge Ernest Lau, who ruled on 23 Aug 2007 they did not have standing as a plaintiff to seek the subscriber records under Singapore's Copyright Act, as they were neither an exclusive licensee nor copyright holder. Lau related the discovery sought to the power of the Anton Piller order, and stated his belief that it should not be easily granted.[13] Lawyers believe this may constitute an important precedent for online privacy, not otherwise specifically protected in Singapore.

Odex appealed to a higher court. On 29 January 2008, Justice Woo Bih Li upheld the lower court ruling regarding lack of standing as a plaintiff by Odex. But he directed PacNet to release subscriber data directly to Japanese anime companies and copyright holders who were party to the case so they could undertake their own enforcement actions.[13] This judgement was praised by critics as a move that protected the privacy of Internet users from a unrightful malicious organisation that no right to access their private details and also protected the interests of copyright holders by giving the IP addresses ONLY to the rightful copyright owners and not some random malicious organisation like Odex.

Dubbing and subtitles

Odex's subtitling has been criticized by fans of anime for having font with lower quality and sometimes inaccurate translations, as compared to fansubs or imports.

Odex blames the censorship laws in Singapore for inaccurate subbing. Odex stated that they had to tweak subtitles to conform to the Board of Film Censors' (BFC) requirements. However, a BFC spokesperson denied this, saying the board preferred that subtitles be accurate.[14]

There has also been controversy on the statements provided by Odex on its website's FAQ page[15][16] regarding the issue of its subtitles. The statements provided by Odex vastly deviated from the questions asked and did not make sense or provide proper answers. In a perplexing and laughable maneuver to defend its subtitles, Odex attempted to make a link between the follow three unrelated ideas: "grammatical errors, inaccurate translations and poor video quality", "discomfort to the various religious and racial groups in Singapore" and "vulgarities and offensive language". The original statements are as quoted below:

FAQ Question: Some people say the frustration with Odex is that its versions have grammatical errors, inaccurate translations and poor video quality and that the fansubs are better. </br>Odex's Answer: In any translation work, there are slightly different ways to say the same thing and our goal is to provide the most accurate translations possible. We believe we have the most advanced video transfer equipment available in Singapore. Odex respects the guidelines laid down by the Board of Film Censor and thus we also believe in [*]providing subtitles that do not cause any discomfort to the various religious and racial groups in Singapore[*] and thus would take the extra mile to [*]remove vulgarities[*] and tone down any [*]offensive language[*].

Website and customer service

Following criticism of its "anti-piracy" actions, Odex set up a forum[17] on its website, stating that the aim was to "foster and improve" relationships between the company and the anime community. Users complained that their questions and opinions were not answered. Also, visitors to the website wrote that Odex's web-pages have been blacklisted and blocked by IP-blocker programs that block malicious sites. They further asserted that Odex's forum used an IP unmasker[18] to check on users. This raised privacy concerns.

After a hacker defaced the website, the company made its official website inaccessible to the public and the forum ended.

Anime exclusively-licensed to Odex

  • Mobile Suit Gundam SEED - only anime to which Odex has exclusive license, as mentioned by the Court Judge during the Odex v Pacific Internet (2007) court case.

Anime sub-licensed and released by Odex

Title Format releases
Juuni Kokki VCD
Agatha Christie no Meitantei Poirot to Marple VCD
Ai Yori Aoshi VCD
Angel Links VCD
Aria VCD
Argento Soma VCD
Azumanga Daioh VCD
Kouga Ninpouchou Basilisk VCD
Black Jack VCD
Betterman VCD
Boys Be VCD, DVD
Bakuretsu Tenshi VCD, DVD
Chrono Crusade VCD, DVD
Cowboy Bebop VCD
Desert Punk VCD
D.Gray-Man DVD
D.N.Angel VCD
Erementar Gerad VCD
Fushigi Yūgi VCD
Futari wa Pretty Cure VCD
Soukyuu no Fafner VCD
Fruits Basket VCD, DVD
Fullmetal Alchemist VCD, DVD
Gankutsuou VCD
Gundam Seed VCD
Gundam Seed Destiny VCD, DVD
Girls Bravo VCD, DVD
Gear Fighter Dendoh VCD
The Legend of Moby VCD
Tsuki wa Higashi ni Hi wa Nishi ni: Operation Sanctuary VCD
Hunter × Hunter VCD
Hunter × Hunter OVA VCD
Hunter × Hunter OVA Greed Island VCD
Inuyasha VCD
Inuyasha the Movie: Swords of an Honorable Ruler VCD, DVD
Inuyasha the Movie: The Castle Beyond the Looking Glass VCD, DVD
Inuyasha the Movie: Affections Touching Across Time VCD, DVD
Infinite Ryvius VCD
Kiddy Grade VCD
Love Hina VCD, DVD
Maburaho VCD, DVD
Machine Robo Rescue VCD
Magical Princess Yucie VCD
Mahoraba - Heartful Days VCD, DVD
My-HiME (Labelled as "Mai HiME") VCD, DVD
My-Otome (Labelled as "Mai Otome") VCD
MONSTER VCD, DVD
Mystical Sleuth Loki VCD
Peacemaker Kurogane VCD
Rumiko Takahashi Anthology VCD
Rumiko Takahashi Anthology - Mermaid Forest VCD
Gensou Maden Saiyuki VCD
Saiyuki Reload VCD
Saiyuki Reload Gunlock VCD
Samurai Champloo VCD, DVD
Samurai Seven VCD, DVD
Tactics VCD
Boukyaku no Senritsu VCD
Shin Angyo Onshi VCD, DVD
To Heart - Remember My Memories VCD
Trinity Blood VCD, DVD
Tsukuyomi -Moon Phase- VCD
Wind: A Breath of Heart VCD
Witch Hunter Robin VCD, DVD
After War Gundam G Fighter VCD
Noein VCD
One Piece VCD
Pretear VCD
RahXephon VCD
Serial Experiments Lain VCD
Magister Negi Magi VCD
MÄR Heaven|MÄR: Marchern Awakens Romance VCD
Mobile Suit Gundam the 08MS Team VCD
Seto no Hanayome VOD
Shaman King VCD
Solty Rei VCD, DVD
Shakugan no Shana VCD, DVD
Sugar Sugar Rune VCD
Tenchi Muyo! in Love VCD
Tokyo Majin Gakuen VOD
Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle VCD, DVD
Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha VCD
Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha A's VCD

Anime sub-licensed but not released by Odex in any video format

Notes and references

External links

ms:Odex sv:Odex

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