by Mike Masnick

Filed Under:
anime, fansubs

Anime Distributors Learn That Fansubbers Are Telling Them What The Market Wants

from the good-for-them dept

We've discussed a few times how the distributors of Japanese anime have often had something of a love-hate affair with "fansubbers" -- fans who take the original videos in Japan and subtitle them in foreign languages for fans in other countries. A few years ago, we noted that rather than set loose the legal hounds on fansubbers, many anime companies embraced the fansubbers and used them to learn where there were strong potential market openings for foreign distribution. It was like free market research. On top of that, many realized that the fansubs helped increase demand for the authorized product. Unfortunately, not all anime distributors have seen things the same way, but many have.

Matt writes in to tell us about the case of the Dattebayo fansub group, which has been doing rapid, high quality releases of certain popular anime titles. The company behind the anime has never bothered them. Rather than try to shut them down, the US licensee of the series has decided to put up its own free subtitled versions, knowing that if it tries to put significant restrictions on them, it will never work. The group is actually charging people for a week, right after the shows air in Japan (rather than the typical long wait), but then will offer it free. In response, the fansub group is going to stop creating their own versions, noting they only did so in order to watch the videos in a reasonable time frame. Once again, despite what some in the entertainment industry claim, we're seeing that you absolutely can compete with so-called "pirates."

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  1. identicon
    Funimation's Stance - Gen Fukunaga Interview, 4 Dec 2008 @ 10:52am

    From the ICv2 interview with Gen Fukunaga, founder and CEO of Funimation, from January of this year.

    In particular question/answer #2:

    Do you think the impact of downloads on anime is just the leading edge of a trend that's going to affect all packaged home video, or is it something different?

    Yes, I think so--I think it will affect all packaged home video. How well it's protected and how people like the MPAA react are going to be big questions. The big Hollywood studios have the power, and they're going to set the standard on how protection is going to be enforced. We're going to be more followers with whatever Hollywood does, so we've been watching what they're doing and certainly we feel the anime industry must do a lot more anti-piracy work.

    It's good to see at least one company, VIZ, taking a different tact. Work with/compete against the customer/"pirates" instead of attacking them. Some Japanese companies and the American distributors are learning to deal with the new landscape. Others, like Media Factory, still seem to have some lessons to learn.

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