Wednesday, May 21, 2008

You're My Love Prize in Re-licensing

Here's a little tidbit of news you may or may not have read about.

An article on states that the re-licensing of the popular "Finder Series" is now underway. Since we've heard nothing about the release of our fave titles from Be Beautiful, we can now rest assured knowing that one of the wonderful series' will be published by a more responsible company. See that article here.

The article did not mention which company was going to get the license, and it's pretty much up in the air at this point. If this article is true, it gives me hope about the other titles that Be Beautiful has. Hell, I wouldn't mind even if Kitty Media started releasing "Embracing Love" (Gosh forbid), at least they publish books on time and on a regular basis. While it may be unfortunate about what happened to Be Beautiful (whatever it was), it is absolutely crazy to make fans wait more than a year for consecutive volumes of their fave series.

Be Beautiful has charged us the highest price for the most popular Yaoi without including any extras like colour pages and high-quality paper. It's about time other, more reliable companies took their licenses and really gave the fans what they wanted.

the image above has been slightly altered to save this blogger's ass, it is NOT the property of Men On Yaoi and any of its affiliates (i.e. Men On Humping, Men On Top Of Eachother)


  1. BeBeautiful was the first American company to license any yaoi/boys' love manga more explicit than the first six volumes of FAKE. Unfortunately, most or all of the titles they licensed were published by the famous Japanese boys' love publisher Biblos, which went bankrupt about two years ago. The Japanese rights to Biblos' titles were then purchased by another publisher called Livre, which has been making things difficult for every American manga licensor who wanted to publish a title originating with Biblos ever since. Livre has insisted on renegotiating all the existing Biblos contracts, apparently dragging out the negotiations at great length. (DMP had titles like "Kirishima-sensei's Passion" and Toko Kawai's "In the Walnut" listed on their schedules with official release dates of five or six months ago, so presumably they had come to some sort of agreement with Livre at some point between the time when Livre took over the Biblos licenses and the fall of 2007. However, those two titles, among others, have yet to appear. When I asked the DMP representative about this at New York Comic-Con, she said it was because of continuing delays caused by Livre.)

    BeBeautiful has apparently taken the position that they already negotiated these contracts with Biblos and what Livre is doing constitutes an attempt to make them pay for the same titles all over again. I am not an expert on international copyright law, but this seems like a fairly reasonable argument to me, especially in regard to the volumes of "Finder," "Embracing Love," "Kizuna," etc., that BeBeautiful has already translated and published in English. Livre has responded by badmouthing BeBeautiful on their website and accusing them of attempting to cheat the mangaka who created the titles involved out of their royalties.

    Since BeBeautiful is not in great shape financially (they and their parent company, Central Park Media, actually did suspend publication of all manga at one point for at least six months because of financial problems caused by their printer going bankrupt), they are apparently trying to avoid the potentially astronomical costs of either suing Livre or being sued by them. Judging by what has happened--or not happened--since this disagreement began, it appears that winning such a lawsuit might well be the only way BeBeautiful could publish any further installments of the series they had already bought the rights to the initial volumes of. (This includes volumes specifically covered by their original contracts with Biblos, including at least one more volume each of "Kizuna" and "The Sound of My Voice.") It seems to me that BeBeautiful should logically be legally entitled to at least reprint additional copies of books which they had already published before Biblos went bankrupt and Livre bought its licenses. (This category would include the first two volumes of the Finder series.) However, BeBeautiful has evidently avoided doing even this for fear of being sued, whether justifiably or not, by the obviously litigious Livre.

    Since Livre, for all their claims that BeBeautiful is legally and ethically in the wrong on this issue, has allowed matters to drag on for literally years after the initial disagreement, it seems quite likely that BeBeautiful's original contract is about to run out anyway and Livre is just waiting for this to happen before officially identifying the new licensor who is supposedly taking over the Finder series. To me this suggests that Livre's intransigent position regarding the ex-Biblos contracts is not exactly legally impeccable, either. But, as I said, I'm not an expert in international copyright law.

    As the above description indicates, BeBeautiful has not been simply depriving fans of the succeeding volumes of already-launched series for relatively arbitrary reasons, as ADV Manga notoriously did when they put several manga series such as "Gunslinger Girl" on a two-year-long hiatus a few years ago--and as some commentators contend they are doing again now with the critically-acclaimed "Yotsuba&" and, once again, "Gunslinger Girl." Of the two publishers involved in the extended delays in releasing or even reprinting the BeBeautiful titles, it seems to me that Livre is the one which has acted more irresponsibly and unreliably in regard to serving readers and fans--and possibly mangaka as well, since presumably the creators aren't getting royalties on books which aren't being printed.

  2. @margaret:

    Your message does shed some light on the situation. You're saying that Libre is waiting for the license contracts to expire so they can re-sell them to another American publisher. It seems they were quite successful, then, since Finder has (allegedly) been picked up by someone else. Perhaps I was quick to blame, and Libre may be the one responsible for the Yaoi drought.

    Since it would be too costly to take on Libre in court (Libre obviously has the resources), would Be Beautiful, perhaps, have to give up all their current titles? If Be Beautiful wanted to stay in the Yaoi biz, would they only be able to license other new titles that haven't been disputed?

    I assume you're an expert in the Yaoi industry, so if what you say is true, could this mean the end of Be Beautiful as we know it?

    I don't understand how Be Beautiful had financial trouble. Living in Canada, I had to pay $20 per book and I own 23 of the 25 books Be Beautiful has released. That's $460 from one person alone for books made of the most basic print quality! You have to admit, the books' production values are low for the high price the company charges. Thank-you for your feedback. I hope we can continue to discuss this topic further.