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.
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."