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. icon
    PaulT (profile), 4 Dec 2008 @ 3:05am

    Common sense, please?

    I've never understood the animosity of many anime companies towards fansubbers. To my mind, it's a very simple equation: there is far more anime released in Japan than the domestic US (or any other Western country) market can possibly support. Therefore, there is always going to be demand for titles that will never be released domestically.

    Fansubbers take the titles they're interested in and enable them to be experienced by non-Japanese people. They're not going to sub movies that already have translations, as there's less demand for them. So why not see which titles are generating the most interest and use that to work out which of the hundreds of series might make a profit on an offical release? Better than trying to prosecute people for showing an interest in material they're blocked from seeing any other way.

    As for Kirion's post above, this is very telling:

    "Though these series have not been licensed to a local distributor in North America, it is important to note that the rights owned by Japanese producers are still applicable, and enforceable, worldwide."

    In other words, we're not interested in making this series available to you officially, we're not interested in taking your money from imports (as an official English translation presumably doesn't exist for importers) but we'll still prosecute you for being interested enough in the series to check it out. Idiocy.

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