Sec. 27. Though the Earth, and all inferior Creatures be common to all Men, yet every Man has a Property in his own Person. This no Body had any Right to but himself. The Labour of his Body, and the Work of his Hands, we may say, are properly his. Whatsoever then he removes out of the State that Nature hath provided, and left it in, he hath mixed his Labour with, and joyned to it something that is his own, and thereby makes it his Property. It being by him removed from the common state Nature placed it in, it hath by this labour something annexed to it, that excludes the common right of other Men. For this Labour being the unquestionable Property of the Labourer, no Man but he can have a right to what that is once joyned to, at least where there is enough, and as good left in common for others.
- Scanning Japanese manga,
- Putting those images online, and
- Letting a distributed community of translators translate them into English.
This free service filled the gap between when popular manga came out in Japan and when the official translations came out in the English-speaking world, often months later.
Groups like OneManga did this with the consent of the publishers–and reacted quickly to publisher’s complaints by taking down the offending material*. There is clearly room for abuse–Japanese audiences can read the scans online with or without English translations, and so avoid paying for physical copies. This post from Broccoman goes into lucid detail about different scanlation sites.
Back to the Lockean perspective, scanlation includes an incredible amount of work, and so might engender a certain amount of distributed ownership amount scanlators. Scanlators claim no ownership, but since they provide free publicity and market research perhaps they should not be treated like pure pirates.
*OneManga is now no longer offering translated scans because a wide range of publishers complained.