Buying already licensed titles.


  • Member

    Does J-Club ever try to buy titles that are already licensed? I would like them to take over The Time I Got Reincarnated As A Slime because the release is too slow considering how far along the novel is.


  • Staff

    No, what you just described is basically impossible, the very fact that another company has acquired a license to a title/has a contract with the rights holder means J-Novel Club will never be able to get it...barring any super strange and nearly impossible occurrences.



  • Well, you'll have to wait for the other company's licensing rights to expire before JNC considers doing a rescue for it, if that is they would do it 🤔



  • @tahu
    If you think that's slow don't look into Sol press.
    The heat death of the universe will come and go before the release of the next volume of some series.


  • Premium Member

    I think the closest they've come to this is Combat Baker but that has some unique circumstances attached to it and I don't remember all of them off the top of my head.


  • Premium Member

    It is a rarity in almost every field.

    Just to mention a few points:

    1. Having a title being taken over includes (usually) a new staff ergo different translation/edit possible
    2. If the targeted series is popular it will be costly unless certain circumstances are involved
    3. Circumstances like e.g. the publisher who currently owns it is in financial trouble or otherwise unable to make money out of it
    4. If it is the latter than it is unlikely a target series will be acquired - why bother with something no one wants?
    5. Therefor you always need a big demand for a series, and if there is a big demand it brings us back to point 2.

    The majority of take overs are often a result of complex contracts in between companies. Or if there are time limited contracts. Though those time ranges are often measured in decades.

    J-Novel Club seems really to be special with the prebubs, which makes it for a fan very interesting. Though in case of such a popular series like the Slime one, it might be more fruitful to appeal to the fan community to increase the pressure of demand to the current publisher.

    Plus there are often unknown variables involved. Just because Sol Press/Seven Seas/even J-Novel Club might be not up to date with a series, does not necessarily means it is their fault. It takes time to on the Japanese side to release an edit, license it, negotiate overseas licenses etc.


  • Premium Member

    @rahul-balaggan said in Buying already licensed titles.:

    No, what you just described is basically impossible, the very fact that another company has acquired a license to a title/has a contract with the rights holder means J-Novel Club will never be able to get it...barring any super strange and nearly impossible occurrences.

    "Never" isn't quite right. FMP was published in English before by Tokyopop years and years ago. If a license expires, it's fair game, and all licenses have to be renewed periodically. In anime, a typical license duration is 5-7 years; I don't know if that holds true in this domain or not.


  • Staff

    @saffire

    @rahul-balaggan said in Buying already licensed titles.:

    barring any super strange and nearly impossible occurrences.

    I specifically put that in my statement because rescue licenses are a thing, not a big thing by any means but they exist to an extent.


  • Premium Member

    I guess I just wouldn't call that a "strange" or "nearly impossible" circumstance. It hasn't happened much in light novels because there haven't been that many translated until recently, but in anime it's not strange at all for a title to have been licensed by 2 or 3 different companies at different points.


  • Premium Member

    @saffire Books are different to anime. You can count the licence rescues for light novels on one hand.


  • Premium Member

    so a couple of points about how licensing a LN/ Manga (published written work) works:

    • written works are not the same as anime/ television /movie titles where a license is to broadcast/stream in certain territories for a certain period of time. The license may or may not be exclusive : I might see the same anime on HULU as on Crunchyroll or whatever

    • conversely, a translated written work is licensed to a publisher (not a channel) A publisher like JNC is agreeing to translate the work, and sell/distribute the finished work under certain terms and conditions. I have never heard of a license being paid for by a publisher that didn't give exclusive rights to the publisher (for language/territory/length of time) ---why would a company like JNC do the work of translating/publishing a work in English, if some other outlet was competing to sell the same title? The Japanese content creators would have a hard time maintaining a business relationship with US publishers if they didn't grant (and enforce) exclusive rights (ensuring that JNC or whoever has a chance to make their investments back)

    • once the license/exclusive time expires a publisher can go back to the copyright holder in Japan and try to obtain a license on work that the old publisher dropped (i.e. FMP, anything else that gets 'rescued')

    • once the copyright expires (I have no idea how long that takes) the work is in the 'public domain' and anyone can publish it (lots of public domain works at Project Gutenberg or others)

    so whover currently has a contract to print/translate Slime, probably has exclusive rights. And unless/until that contract terminates no one else can legally translate and sell the work, and as others have mentioned, a contract on a current/ popular work terminating is exceedingly rare


  • Premium Member

    @saffire said in Buying already licensed titles.:

    in anime it's not strange at all for a title to have been licensed by 2 or 3 different companies at different points.

    That usually only happens because either the company that had the license went out of business or because individual seasons get licensed individually, and another company was able to outbid the company that licensed the previous season. Outside of companies going out of business, it's abnormal for a company to lose a license for anything other than the license's time period expiring, and usually, if the company decided to not renew the license, no one else is going to want to pick it up, because the company that originally had the license would only choose to not renew it if it wasn't profitable. You do get some exceptions like where Aniplex started refusing to renew licenses so that their US arm (Aniplex of America) could license and release all Aniplex series instead of letting another publisher do it. So, the companies that had the licenses couldn't renew them, but in general, companies that license anime are able to keep renewing licenses when they expire and only lose them when they choose not to renew.

    Certainly, you don't have US anime companies buying licenses from other US anime companies or have them talking the Japanese publisher into somehow killing the existing contract to give them the license.

    Barring something incredibly abnormal happening, the only way that "The Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime" would no longer be licensed by Yen Press is if they decided that it was too unprofitable to continue and let the license expire. Even if Yen Press is licensing individual volumes or groups of volumes at a time instead of the entire series at once, it's not like another company is going to be able to come in and license the next set of volumes. That just isn't done with light novels.

    And what light novel publisher would even want to do that if they could? In the case of "The Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime," it would mean that their competitor had the rights to 7+ of the preceding volumes. Being able to get more people to pick up the series would then depend on what Yen Press did with the previous volumes, which would be a terrible position to be in. With anime, if a company snatches the second season of a series, they're usually selling just that season - and maybe one more - whereas with light novels, it's who knows how many more. And if the publisher were somehow able to get the license to all of the novels rather than just the new ones, they would almost certainly have to retranslate all of the previous volumes with those volumes likely selling poorly, because most of the fanbase would have already bought them.

    Really, it makes no sense for a publisher to try to swipe a series from a competitor even if they somehow could. And if the original publisher drops the series, rescuing the license is a pretty questionable move, because usually, the only reason that a company would have dropped it would be because of poor sales. The only license rescue for a light novel series that I can think of that's happened thus far is when j-novel picked up FMP, and that's a popular title that was not fully released previously because Tokyopop dropped everything on the floor and walked out, not because the license was dropped for being unprofitable. And if no one is trying to license rescue the rest of the light novel series that Tokyopop had, why on earth would anyone try to swipe a license from another company? It makes far more sense to just find another license that they can get for a reasonable price that seems like it would be profitable.


  • Premium Member

    @kalessin @SAFFIRE

    anime it's not strange at all for a title to have been licensed by 2 or 3 different companies

    actually in anime this happens all the time

    a current anime might be licensed to be streamed on crunchyroll and hidive and funimation and hulu all at the same time ---that's because the license was granted to a distributor who was authorized to re-license it (My Hero Academia, or SOL, or a few really popular titles might be everywhere all at once) or if Funimation did a dub, they might license the dub to be on Hulu or whatever- there are cases of exclusivity as well; recently Evagelon was only on Netfix (for example)

    published works (on paper/epub, i.e. LN or manga versions of titles) your points all valid


  • Premium Member

    @jon-mitchell said in Buying already licensed titles.:

    • once the copyright expires (I have no idea how long that takes) the work is in the 'public domain' and anyone can publish it (lots of public domain works at Project Gutenberg or others)

    Unless a work is voluntarily put in the public domain by the intellectual property holder(s), it takes a long time. The amount of time varies from country to country. The amount of time it takes also changes from medium to medium and even how and when it was published. Plus, when lobbyists get involved they sometimes work with countries to extend the timeframe to protect the material they want to protect (see Disney lobbyists for an example).

    Currently, for a book, a common time frame before it goes into the public domain is 70 years after the death of the latest author of the book. In Mexico it is 100 years after the death of the latest author.

    Frankly I wouldn't hold my breath on waiting for something to go into the public domain and if you want to assume something is public domain, I'd get a lawyers opinion first because the rule of thumb that anything from before 1924 is public domain is not always accurate.


  • Premium Member

    One volume every four months seems like a reasonable pace.


  • Premium Member

    Anime also gets licensed by a lot of companies simultaneously because it works off the old broadcasting rights model that cable TV uses. That means companies are negotiating licenses not only for specific languages but also regions. So Funimation might license the English dub for North America, Crunchyroll might license the Sub for various regions, another company might come in for rights to Australia or Europe. Then they go and box in their distribution so only people in those regions can stream it and whatnot.

    I don't know that that type of model even exists for ebooks, and even if it did, I can't imagine JNC wanting to even try to get into that model. Can you imagine them licensing something, but then only being allowed to sell it to people in North America?


  • Premium Member

    @jpwong said in Buying already licensed titles.:

    I don't know that that type of model even exists for ebooks, and even if it did, I can't imagine JNC wanting to even try to get into that model. Can you imagine them licensing something, but then only being allowed to sell it to people in North America?

    Yes, separate licenses for separate regions are common in publishing. (For a famous example, see Harry Potter - Scholastic has the US rights, while Bloomsbury has rights to either rest-of-world or UK/Commonwealth + Canada. More commonly, the split is North America vs. UK/Commonwealth.)

    In the old days you could even end up with print & ebook licenses going to separate publishers, but nowadays all the print publishers make sure to license digital rights in any new contracts.


  • Member

    If it’s that hard to get already licensed title I hope J-Club hurries and lays claim to Hachinan tte, Sore wa Nai Deshou! and Maou-sama no Machizukuri!. I’m such a big fan that yearly releases would drive me to protest outside the publisher HQ.


  • Premium Member

    @tahu said in Buying already licensed titles.:

    J-Club hurries and lays claim

    if only it was that easy

    the original license holder (content creator) has a say in who gets the rights to translate, and they or their agents will negotiate to get the best possible terms/rates for their content (and partner with whom they chose, there may me intangibles that contribute to that negotiation as well; such as quality/speed of translation, ability to effectively market product, reputation, ease of collaboration, existing business relationships, etc.) at the same time - companies trying to license titles try to get the quantity and quality of licenses that allow to create a number of products that they feel will sell well, can be acquired for an appropriate cost, that they have the resources to translate/make a good finished product. JNC and companies like them also need to consider many of the same or similar intangibles that the content creators do (there is a reason JNC doesn't have many Kadokawa titles)


  • Premium Member

    @jon-mitchell I think I saw someone point out in one of the licensing suggestion threads that one particular publisher won't even consider a company unless the can guarantee a print run which is certainly a disadvantage to JNC.


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