Undertexter.se, a Swedish site that posts fan-produced subtitle files, was raided on Monday. In messages posted to the stripped down site (Google Cached), the owners claim they have “never received complaints from businesses who have pointed out that some of the texts are taken from their DVD.”1
Subtitling is a tricky part of international distribution, and as such many films simply aren’t translated for most markets out there. Fan sites have long played an integral role in bringing subtitled movies abroad for free. You can use fan-created subtitles with legally purchased films; on its face there doesn’t appear to be anything illegal about distributing the texts.
Studios should embrace fan subtitlers. They’re creating a massive collection of localized data and don’t ask for anything in return. With fan subtitles you could enhance a service like AnyClip by making movie scenes searchable by dialogue in any language. There are even tools like Mute Profanity or Hulu Filter that automate the process of muting offensive words based entirely on subtitles; not something I’d promote but a neat trick nonetheless.
All may not be lost, though. The first message posted to Undertexter after the site went down ends on this note:
We will never give up, we live in a free country and Swedish people have every right to publish your own interpretation of a movie/series.
Yep. Here’s hoping subtitles aren’t the MPAA’s next crusade.
(via The Daily Dot.)
All quotes from Undertexter.se translated via Google Translate. ↩︎