Scanalation – In this age of internet file-sharing, one of the most important fan activities surrounding Japanese manga (or Korean manhwa or Chinese manhua) is a process called scanlation. Fans get physical copies of titles in their original language, scan in the pages, translate the text into the language they need (for us, English), and then post the results on the internet for fans to read. Scanlation is the term coined for this process, and it usually involves a number of fans working on different aspects. Officially, this is illegal under international copyright law. At this point, publishers have not attacked individuals fans or those downloading and reading the posted scanlations, but there have been some skirmishes from groups. Many groups have a kind of honor code — they will only publish scanlations of titles not yet available where they are (i.e. in the US), and once that titles becomes available, they will take their scanlations down. However, there are many sites that continue to publish series after they’ve been licensed for US distribution, and if you work with teenagers, you should know that many of them read their favorite series online, direct from Japan. For a similar process for anime, see fansubs.
Scanalations are important to teen librarians because they technically violate copyright, and there is a good chance that you are teens are viewing them on the library computers. I know they view them on ours. We are working on how to address the issue now, but it is a complicated problem.