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Fansub Clampdown Begins? PDF Print E-mail
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Monday, 13 December 2004 00:00

Something a little different for today. Japanese anime producer / distributor Media Factory recently fired off a "cease & desist" letter at BitTorrent tracker site AnimeSuki - is this the end of the 'blind eye' approach of Japanese licensors to fansub distribution?

The principle behind fansubs is fairly simple - they're a way for western audiences to sample new shows, before they're licensed for English-language distribution.  Once the show is licensed, distribution of the fansubs stops & anyone who likes the show can then buy a legitimate release.

That's the theory, anyway. In the modern age of digisubs, however, it doesn't work that way anymore - while there are a few groups left who hold to the old 'code of fansub ethics', most current groups don't. Fansubs are now a way of getting free anime, nothing more. This approach was most notably shown last year when a group that was distributing the Ninja Scroll TV series threw a hissy fit after receiving a C&D letter from Urban Vision, the series' R1 licensee - "We're entitled to our free anime and we're doing you a favour anyway," was the gist of the response.

Media Factory's intervention is the first time a Japanese company has raised the issue, however. Their C&D seems to have been prompted by the release of a fansub copy of Akane Maniax several days before the release of the DVD in Japan. Since Akane Maniax is a direct-to-video OVA release, this may well have had an affect on sales of the DVD.

I generally support the fansub scene, if the old 'code of ethics' is honoured - this site wouldn't be here if digisubs hadn't piqued my interest in anime, and they've also led to me amassing a sizeable collection of DVD's as a result (400+ DVD's, at a value of around £5000, in the past 3 years) - so I'd hate for this to be the beginning of a clampdown on them. There may be no way to prevent that - but a good place to start would be for the various fansubbing groups to remember how to keep under the radar (don't sub licensed shows, don't release your own copy ahead of Japan). Then maybe we can continue to 'try before we buy'.

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