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Text Commentary

Joey Wheeler: Ace Copyright Attorney
by Charlie Furman `

This clip deals with Yu-Gi-Oh! The Abridged Series' copyright issues shortly after the show's third removal from YouTube. Not only does this clip present a few arguments for why 4Kids' attempts to suppress The Abridged Series actually work against their own interests, but the show as a whole is an interesting reversal of the traditional argument that occurs between fans and content owners.

The common defense that “fan efforts to protect favorite aspects of fictional texts infringe upon the producer’s creative freedom” (Jenkins 30), for example, does not apply. Instead, this claim is reversed: LittleKuriboh is claiming that 4Kids infringed on what the producer created. Further, unlike fans who are trying to protect certain aspects, LK is not arguing about how production should be carried out – rather, he is arguing that the material as it was originally published should have been kept intact. Indeed, unlike for producers who are still creating material or trying to prevent new material from becoming canonical, 4Kids already had the show – they had to make a proactive decision to change it from what the producer wanted. It seems, then, that 4Kids’ translation (both in the linguistic and adaptive sense) decisions were in an attempt to get the widest possible audience through strict adherence to the standard of “kid friendly content” that is implied by the company’s name. This does, however, seem to ultimately be part of LK’s critique of 4Kids’ translation – to make the show meet 4Kids’ standards, they simply removed the content they objected to without paying close attention to how it affected the plot’s coherency or the characters’ complexity.

Of course, this critique is only salient to those who are initiated in not only the English, but also the Japanese version of Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Monsters. Because of the way LK constructed of Yu-Gi-Oh: The Abridged Series, however, he is able to draw in more audiences. Indeed, LK wanted to “try and appeal to people who would not actually watch the show” (The Abridged Podcast). This is where his jokes about the premise of the show are most effective. Even if you only know that Yu-Gi-Oh! is about card games, jokes about the absurdity of that premise are still understandable - which Joey hints at in his impassioned closing statement by arguing that there are actually now more fans of the Yu-Gi-Oh! franchise than there would be otherwise, in part drawn by the fan culture surrounding the series.

This Commentary is related to the following Clips:
Joey Wheeler: Ace (copyright) Attorney by LittleKuriboh (2010) In this clip from Yu-Gi-Oh! The Abridged Series, Joey Wheeler is dueling one of Kaiba Corp's board members in a virtual world, represented by the monster Judge Man. The trial that takes place in the abridged version, however, focuses on the issue of copyright infringement and content ownership, which Yu-Gi-Oh! The Abridged Series has dealt with repeatedly as they have been removed from YouTube by 4Kids! at least 3 times.