While preparing for my talk in Melbourne, I was IM'ing with my sister who I steal a lot of my material from these days. We were talking about Naruto, which I blogged about earlier in the context of the Naruto Matrix Reloaded AMV. On the site, the author says, "To clarify, it's as much of a Naruto advertisement as it is a Matrix parody" (emphasis added) We were talking about the amazing fan community around Naruto.

If you go to the site that lists the BitTorrent files of Naruto, you will see that fans have subtitled the episodes into a variety of languages like Hebrew, Portuguese, French... When new episodes of Naruto come out, the fans get together on IRC and other fora and collaborate and create subtitled versions and put them online. If you search for Naruto on Amazon.com, you find a page where the fans are voting for the DVD release and the notice says that they will notify the publisher of the voting. (It would be interesting to find out if the publisher or the fans initiated this.) It also appears that when a local DVD is released, the fans take down their subtitled episodes for that region. By allowing the fans to create demand, the publishers are using these file sharing networks and illegal derivative works as an extremely efficient form of marketing. Thanks to the network of Internet anime fans, Naruto is still niche, but popular globally.

This kind of publisher approved "piracy" is not a new thing. Dojinshi, are comics created by fans of Japanese comics. They are illegal derivative works. They make their own stories using famous comics as the base. They have huge conventions and it's an amazing community. The publishers of most of these comics encouraged this dojinshi culture because they realized that this increases the demand for the originals. These derivative works and sharing creates "fans" not "lost customers".

Some will argue that this is niche stuff, but I talked to a marketing guy at TV Tokyo and he said that they are now focused on niche. In the past they tried to appeal to a wide audience including young children and they tried to get a small amounts of money from a lot of people. (Like Pokemon stuffed animals.) Now, with box sets and special edition DVDs, they are finding that niche oriented adults and otaku will spend thousands of dollars on one show. They are able to collect more money from fewer people. I think this is one of the key marketing lessons that we're getting to. Before you tried to get a tiny bit of money from everyone who listened to a song or watched a show. Maybe if we focus on getting more money from fewer people, we can design business models around relationships and physical things rather than the content itself. Digital content might be better viewed as a marketing tool or metadata of the actual property or asset that is being promoted.

My sister's been getting most of this information about fandom from her research assistant Rachel Cody.

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36 Comments

"By allowing the fans to create demand, the publishers are using these file sharing networks and illegal derivative works as an extremely efficient form of marketing. Thanks to the network of Internet anime fans, Naruto is still niche, but popular globally."

That last sentence is a contradiction. It can't be both popular globally and a niche at the same time. What you're trying to say is that there are a small number of fans scattered around the world.


"This kind of publisher approved "piracy" is not a new thing. Dojinshi, are comics created by fans of Japanese comics. They are illegal derivative works. They make their own stories using famous comics as the base."

I was under the impression that fansubs relied heavily on the source material and were not considered derivative works. Perhaps in some legal definition but let's get real. After all, when you fansub a movie, the outcome is the same exact movie but with subtitles. How exactly does it create demand for the "original" when you, for all intents and purposes, already own it in the form of a fansub? I rather doubt that someone who has to rely on a fansub would even bother with the original, as it is most likely in a language that he can't understand anyway.

If this is a derivative work then it is easy less original than fanfiction and the like.


"Maybe if we focus on getting more money from fewer people, we can design business models around relationships and physical things rather than the content itself. Digital content might be better viewed as a marketing tool or metadata of the actual property or asset that is being promoted."

This business model already exists. Look at all the merchandising connect to hollywood blockbusters. I doubt that this can be successfully applied to a niche market. If you want to treat an obscure cartoon as an advertisement, you aren't going to magically generate revenue because the audience (ie your potential merch buyers) is small to begin with.

For a post with such bold claims, it is pretty short on facts and figures. (If you have the numbers, go ahead and prove me wrong.) Until I see that someone is actually making money by letting their fans release pirate fansubs, I will remain a skeptic. For now, I doubt anyone will be basing their business model on a sentiment like this: "Thanks to the network of Internet anime fans, Naruto is still niche, but popular globally." Maybe in utopia but not in the real world. No thanks.

Fred: My point is that something that is niche could be called popular if the aggregate of the global market exceeded the definition of a "niche". It is still niche, but a global niche is much bigger than a local niche.

Translations are derivative works so I believe that fansubs would be derivative works. Dojinshi is more like fan fiction than fansubs. The Matrix Naruto remix-sync I link to above is more like a remix type and sync, which I think would be a derivative work.

I am just providing anecdotal evidence, but I most of the members of the fansubs seem to buy the DVDs as well. If they didn't, how would they be able to argue about the quality of final production DVD etc.

My point is that simple merchandising was widely used to augment revenue for blockbusters but marketers in Japan have found that merchandise and DVD sales to hardcore niche fans, especially in the case of anime exceeds that of broader less nichy brands. I don't have figures, but this was explained to me by a marketing person at TV Tokyo which is one of the most successful TV stations with anime.

You have the right to remain skeptical. I was providing some ideas and believe that this is an interesting avenue of research. Clearly, we need to study this and come up with some figures that support my claims. My main question is whether this is just a fringe thing, or whether in the context of "the long tail" and increasing diversity of tastes, this might become something quite normal. My point is that I don't think Hollywood is generally even asking the right questions to collect the sort of data that would result in understanding this sort of thing.

For my part, I'm going to try to talk to some of the publishers of anime and see how they are looking at this fandom marketing thing. My sister and her team are also doing a great deal of research on this topic and I look forward to a rigorous report from them.

Interesting post, Joi. I gave a paper at the annual meeting of the Society for Literature & Science back in October that made a similar argument about anime fandom, tying the growth of fandom and the US anime industry to advances in consumer technologies.

But regarding a few things Fred said: "I was under the impression that fansubs relied heavily on the source material and were not considered derivative works."

Probably "derivative works" isn't quite the right term to use, although I have seen fansubs that could qualify, with added material like cultural notes and the like. Still, there is some creativity that goes into the fansubbing process (as is the case with all acts of translation). Fansubs certainly aren't "derivative works" in the same way that doujinshi are.

"How exactly does it create demand for the "original" when you, for all intents and purposes, already own it in the form of a fansub?"

The same question could be asked about the plethora of TV shows now coming out on DVD. Why would someone pay money for something they could get for free by taping the show off the air? Of course there are plenty of reasons -- additional features, better video quality, the fetishization of the DVD as collector's object, etc. I remember hearing a teaser for a report on some public radio show (All Things Considered? Marketplace?) recently that seemed to float the idea that a film's theatrical run is nothing more than a big advertisement for the DVD release.

"I rather doubt that someone who has to rely on a fansub would even bother with the original, as it is most likely in a language that he can't understand anyway."

I don't have any concrete figures for you (they're pretty hard to come by for the US anime industry), but fansubs are generally thought to boost sales. This is where the benefits of community comes in -- there is pressure among fans to purchase the show when it becomes licensed and to get rid of existing fansubbed copies. To merely acquire fansubs and not the "real" thing is looked down upon in most anime fan communities. Like Joi said, when a show is licensed the fansubbers will stop working on new episodes and will halt the distribution of older eps. This means that if you had been following a show, especially a long-running one, you'd have to pick up the legitimate release in order to keep watching it.

Anyway, yes, most people who watch (and enjoy) fansubs do pick up the licensed version when it comes out. The industry obviously thinks along the same lines as well, or else there would be much more of an outcry against fansubbing. Of course, the people in the industry pay attention to what's being fansubbed and the general reactions of fans in order to determine what the "hot" properties are.

Thanks for your contribution Brain. Are you doing additional research in this area? I really think that trying to measure some of the stats would be really fruitful. Do you have a copy of the paper you presented?

I didn't read the full comments from everyone here but I did see a few things in this post a bit alaraming.

"It also appears that when a local DVD is released, the fans take down their subtitled episodes for that region."

Unfortunately this often isn't true. When Neon Genesis Evangelion hit in the u.s. it's stateside translator and distrubtor (A.D. Vision) served most of the fan sub sites with legal notices. At the time fan subbing consisted of college anime clubs subtitling VHS tapes of japanese TV shows on college station equipment and then distributing tapes and VCDs by mail. Hence finding the two guys who just loved a show so much they didn't mind copying the same VHS tape of 4 hours of EVA eps about 100 - 150 times a week wasn't to hard and hence you could get say 30 episodues of a show just by sending like 5 - 6 blank tapes to some guy in Houston and 2 weeks later you got back the tapes. The problem companies like A.D. Vision face from fan subbers is that fan subbers usually have the entire series before the the translation company can even secure the licensing rights to the series in the u.s. Hence fan subs are faster than the commercial services and now that we have bit torrent and DVD burners and TIVO a new japanese show can be subbed pratically in real time and distributed with in minutes. My point being contrary to what is stated above most of the commercial translation services in the u.s. were sueing their biggest fans long before the RIAA thought of it. If torrent sites are taking down their files just in time for the commerical release, it's probably more out of fear than respect.

"I rather doubt that someone who has to rely on a fansub would even bother with the original, as it is most likely in a language that he can't understand anyway. "

I think your kinda missing the point. Despite the problem I mentioned above, fan subbing created the market for translated anime in the u.s. So yes fan subbing i.e. unauthorized copies of japanese cartoons created a market that now creates additional millions in revenue for japan's entertainment industry (although I haven't seen any of Korea's fine animations make it stateside or India's trippy pyschdelic cartoons).


Andrew. That's useful thanks. One interesting thing is that it appears that a lot of the fansubbing is going on in IRC channels and around pretty active and large communities. Is it possible that the community style vs the "guy in a garage" style is changing some of the practices? I think some of the people working with my sister is interviewing some of the people in the community so it will be interesting to see what they say.

I do know that even in Japan, when a US company is involved in the deal, apparently they crack down on dojinshi. I think this is even more reason to try to find out what the actual economics and numbers are. I think a lot of this crackdown might be out of a belief that copies and derivative works lower sales, but it's possible, even if it's just in certain niches, that the proliferation of copies does not lower the overall revenue. I may be another edge case, but after download a few episodes of any series I like, I find myself on Amazon spending hundreds of dollars buying all of the seasons so I can watch them in one go.

never attribute to malice what can be explained by stupidity... The crackdown on dojinshi is probably due to fear of US anti-porn sensibilities. I can image a US company going to market anime (" == for children") not wanting to be haunted by anti-porn advocacy groups. Think of the children!

Apart from that, I wonder how you can so carelessly say that "digital content might be better viewed as a marketing tool or metadata of the actual property or asset that is being promoted". Culture produced to sell toys... hello, Hollywood works like that since Star Wars came out. And I thought you weren't a drone; /me stupid.

"Andrew. That's useful thanks. One interesting thing is that it appears that a lot of the fansubbing is going on in IRC channels and around pretty active and large communities. Is it possible that the community style vs the 'guy in a garage' style is changing some of the practices? I think some of the people working with my sister is interviewing some of the people in the community so it will be interesting to see what they say."


I think with Anime in the u.s. the difference between a professional company releasing tapes and say the fan subbers is actually pretty small. I mean, if I recall correctly, AD Vision was a bunch of Univ of Houston anime club fan subbers who just decided to go pro. Hence I think the companies are still close enough to their roots/ illegal conterparts that they have some sympathy. But I think the big change has really been what you and your sister are witnessing A. tivo and B. final cut and other digital editing programs. I mean it's definitely easier to have a community based around an irc channel with a few dudes tivo'n the newest shows in japan, then sending the files to translators who in turn just boot up the tivo'd shows in final cut edit out commercials track in the subtitles and then an hour or so later your show is done and whoever has the most well known server puts the files up as torrents and ya know the usual folks evangelize the new shows on blogs and message boards. So yeah I definitely think the days of a few nerds pouring over an 80s video editing console in the bottom of the college library is over. But then again I also haven't been into anime in a long time. =)
way back in the day I did do ROM trading (ya know trading the images of neo geo and nintendo games etc to play on emulators) and we set up our own irc network just to avoid lawyers etc and were definitely a community with people passing around carts to the few people who could make an image of a rom (especially hard for a neo geo rom) and then passing it off to whoever had the server etc. standard "dark net" shit as wired seems to call it. Hence fan subbing will continue regardless of what American or European companies decide about this legality.

anyway, you'd think someone would pick up on the anime subculture as a good method for distributing video on demand. After all just using bit torrent and a few programs these dudes are distributing content to millions of people worldwide faster than the commercial services.


"This kind of publisher approved "piracy" is not a new thing."

In fact even the recording industry is well known to have supported piracy in the past.
Take a look at the wikipedia entry for John Peel near the "Needle Time" section, in reference to Pirate Radio stations in the UK during the 1960's.
"EMI used to send runners to the station's offices in London to deliver the latest batches of records free of charge, while denouncing the stations in the press"

Andrew, your comment about fansubbers keeping subbing when it gets licensed is not true.
[At least not for the shows I watch ;-)]
For instance, Genshiken was licensed the day before the last show aired in Japan. I still have to see that ep subbed.
You can get the raws, if you are willing to download a huge file, but not the subbed episode.
[And my Japanese is monosyllabylic at best]
The first DVD has just come out in Japan, so I eagerly await its distribution in the US.
Then maybe, just maybe in the UK.
And that is my second problem.
DVD regions actually increase the likelihood of piracy.
I live in Europe, i.e. Region 2.
If an anime gets licensed in the US, i.e. Region 1, then I can not, legitimately, play that DVD.
So, a European anime fan is more likely to ask their US counterparts to seed a DVD rip for them.
If the media companies would abandon DVD regions then my life, and countless others, would be a lot easier.
I would be less frustrated.
And they would get extra revenue from me buying their DVD from Amazon.com, or some such, rather than waiting for Amazon.co.uk.
And as for protecting market segmentation or whatever.
It costs more to buy a cheap DVD in the US and ship it to Europe, after import tax and everything, than buying an expensive European DVD.
Only fans like me would be willing to do it.

"If torrent sites are taking down their files just in time for the commerical release, it's probably more out of fear than respect."

This is entirely untrue. AnimeSuki, which is currently the only organized aggregate of fansubs, takes them down as soon as they are licensed. They also took down an entire group of fansubs after receiving a C&D from their Japanese producers, even though there was basically nothing to worry about because they were not running the trackers.

Giacomo: Some of the anime fans that are cracked down upon by the US have nothing to do with porn. Furthermore, the US has a history of shutting down fan sights. I would disagree with you on this point. I think the US tends to lead with their lawyers much more than any other region.

As for toys... There is one or two orders of magnitude difference in the amount of money that adult fans are willing to spend on their obsession than children can.

Joi: "Are you doing additional research in this area? .. Do you have a copy of the paper you presented?"

The paper is still a work in progress. Something along these lines might eventually find its way into my PhD dissertation, though.

Andrew: "Unfortunately this often isn't true. When Neon Genesis Evangelion hit in the u.s. it's stateside translator and distrubtor (A.D. Vision) served most of the fan sub sites with legal notices... My point being contrary to what is stated above most of the commercial translation services in the u.s. were sueing their biggest fans long before the RIAA thought of it."

Of course, as you point out, the fansubbing going on at the time was mostly done on tapes through a network of fan contacts. The good thing about fansubs moving online is that the fans can be much more responsive when a title is acquired by a US company. And there's a big difference between a legal notice and a lawsuit. Although some companies can be a tad heavy-handed, most don't immediately jump to the lawsuit stage.

And Shii is right. There were some conflicted feelings when Media Factory sent out that letter to US fansubbers asking them to not sub and distro any of their titles, even though they hadn't been licensed in the US yet. The idea in the fan community remains that fansubs exist to promote the original product -- so if the Japanese companies express displeasure at the actions of fansubbers, many will stop.

"anyway, you'd think someone would pick up on the anime subculture as a good method for distributing video on demand. After all just using bit torrent and a few programs these dudes are distributing content to millions of people worldwide faster than the commercial services."

I agree totally. I think that the Japanese companies are missing a big opportunity by not catering to the demand for their shows online.

This is just a quick response to the posts about fansubbers continuing even after licensing. In Naruto's case - the main fansubbing group, Anbu, dropped it when there was a news release that the series had been licensed. Another fansubbing company picked it back up, saying yes it been licensed, but it still hasn't been released. It became an issue of whether it is fair to keep the devoted fans (who are partially, or mainly, responsible for the series being picked up over here) on hold until the series is released in DVD format in the US. Even then, the newest episodes would not be available to the fans if they were to follow legal channels. Currently, there is a debate on a Naruto forum over whether the scanlators (who translate the manga) should "re-master" the original volumes of Naruto - volumes that have been released in the United States. There is a strong reaction from both sides of the fans, supporting it because they feel fans do a better job, or opposing it because they feel that people should purchase the original release. It is interesting that many who are supporting the remastering also claim to own the official manga volumes anyway - they'd just like to see the higher quality fan releases.

"My point is that something that is niche could be called popular if the aggregate of the global market exceeded the definition of a "niche". It is still niche, but a global niche is much bigger than a local niche."

Your logic is basically 1+1=2. Yes adding niches together gets a larger sum. But just because it is larger doesn't mean that it is large. Talking about a global niche is meaningless because you can't target a global niche as a whole. Translations must be targeted to specific language groups, products must enter the distribution chains of local markets. Once you get down to the nitty gritty of selling these cartoons and merch, it doesn't make sense to think of the audience from a global scale.


"Translations are derivative works so I believe that fansubs would be derivative works. Dojinshi is more like fan fiction than fansubs. The Matrix Naruto remix-sync I link to above is more like a remix type and sync, which I think would be a derivative work."

Translations are derivative works when the whole product is text, like books, scripts, articles, etc. The whole thing is transformed when converted from one language to another. This isn't the case with fansubs. Every frame of animation, every sound, even the original actors voices are present in the fansub in the exact same form as the original. The translated dialogue is derivative but everything else remains exactly the same. I'm not exactly blown away by this kind of creativity. It really doesn't impress me as that much different from naked piracy.


"My point is that simple merchandising was widely used to augment revenue for blockbusters but marketers in Japan have found that merchandise and DVD sales to hardcore niche fans, especially in the case of anime exceeds that of broader less nichy brands."

Does this mean you compare sales from Cartoon X and Cartoon Y. X is less popular than Y but X makes more money from merch? Or are you saying that individually, hardcore fans spend more than normal fans?


"The same question could be asked about the plethora of TV shows now coming out on DVD. Why would someone pay money for something they could get for free by taping the show off the air?"

No, the question is, why would someone pay for something when they can aquire it for free with a negligible amount of effort online. Taping requires coordination and effort, you have to edit out commercials, you have to pay for media, etc. Internet fansubs have no such contraints.


"I don't have any concrete figures for you (they're pretty hard to come by for the US anime industry), but fansubs are generally thought to boost sales. This is where the benefits of community comes in -- there is pressure among fans to purchase the show when it becomes licensed and to get rid of existing fansubbed copies. To merely acquire fansubs and not the "real" thing is looked down upon in most anime fan communities. "

Again, in the absence of facts and figures, there is only conjecture. I will say that once you put a fansub on the internet, it is available to everyone, not just hard core super fans, but the people in the middle ground who make up the vast majority of the audience. These people have no such ethical constraints because they aren't as fiercely loyal.


Other points:

Even if the super-fans pull their fansubs from the internet once official releases come out, the damage has already been done. They can't control the distribution of their fansubs. Once they go on the internet, they can be distributed by anyone. There are many people who don't have the same scruples as fansubers and will happily continue distributing episodes even after official versions are available. Hell, the same filesharing networks that distribute fansubs can distribute official releases as well. The people who make fansubs must know this property of the internet. Information is immortal. If they cared, they would distribute their fansubs through private networks, not public ones. Futhermore, one must quesiton their loyalty to the brand if they are actively participating in pirating that brand.

I won't be convinced about the ability of fansubers to generate publicity until they can do so by means other than giving away for free the product that companies worked hard to create and wish to make a profit out of. Anyone can attract attention by giving away free stuff. The question is whether such a practice is sustainable. If creators can't make money, there won't be as much creation going on.

Final thought: if there was money to be made by allowing fansub piracy, you would be talking about specific facts and figures. "Company X made Y in profits." No one has done so yet. I shudder to think of a future when merch ceases to be supplemental revenue but the main source because it is impossible to make money by just selling "information".

"They can't control the distribution of their fansubs. Once they go on the internet, they can be distributed by anyone."

That's true to a certain extent. But the good thing about distro on the Internet is that it allows for even more control over the channels of distribution. Even as recently as five years ago, I saw a number of fansub groups with licensed titles in their catalogue. Once something was acquired by a US company, it used to be a while before the distro networks slowed to a trickle and eventually dried up. These days, online fansubs can be taken down within a day or even hours of a licensing announcement. And they often are. I have tried to search for fansubs of titles that have been licensed but not yet released, and sometimes it's nearly impossible to find them. (Which is a good thing.) I think fansubbers as a rule have gotten much better about this. (There are always exceptions, though.)

"Final thought: if there was money to be made by allowing fansub piracy, you would be talking about specific facts and figures. "Company X made Y in profits." No one has done so yet."

As I said before, it's not because it's not possible to talk about the issue in such terms -- it's that such financial information is not publicly available.

>>14

Fansubs help shape the niche (sometimes creating) for a series their respective local audience. Without them most people would be a lot more ignorant about what the hell was coming out.

Ending distro of fansubs does affect the ease of getting it by a major amount. Often major BT sites won't host torrents of already liscenced material. Though information on the net won't just go away, when things leave distributed networks and get limited to p2p w/o searching/database it becomes a lot more difficult to get things. If you're looking for something old and rare that's been licensed you really have to look hard for it... Don't even think about going to the original fansubber's chan to ask, since they'll probably kick ban on request. Unless you really have access to archives or dumps, discontinued fansubs are hard to get. However, since there are a lot of groups that continue to sub (or other groups take over) after a series has been liscensed, things usually are a bit different depending on the popularity of the series.

As far as a groups or individual's commitment to the product or series... I'd have to say that a lot of people involved in the community of subbing are more commited to the product than the average consumer. If you think about the work that goes into fansubbing it is really clear. The majority of people are taking hours out of their lives to provide a product for free. It also takes a lot of coordination and usually amounts to a lot of stress. I've seen single episodes go through quality check 4 or 5 times (which means waiting for editting and encoding each time.) Its a bit different than just pirating and making a product off of copying an already existing one. People subbing aren't exactly making a profit out of doing it, and the only reward is really props and resources (though I suppose the topic of resources is another matter.) As far as fansubs decreasing the incentive to buy, people who want to start projects usually have to get the raw materials someway, which sometimes involve the purchase of many expensive region 2 dvds... Also many people involved in the projects usually do end up purchasing the product when it gets released by the actual distrbutor (often to compare and see how they went about doing certain things.) Considering fansubs, the quality is not compareable to the quality you'd get on DVD, unless you're downloading DVDRs (which is another subject...)

On the topic of "If they cared they'd distro on private networks"... this idea is sort of dumb... the whole basis of scene and top site is based on "private network" you think people in scene care more about the stuff they put out because they don't make it available on the majority of BT sites? No, I think they do it to stay more low key. Yeah, the same sites that provide fansub torrents could provide torrents for the official product, but the people that are seeding and making it avaiable are a bit different. It's a bit of a mistake to lump fansubbers with them, though there are overlaps in certain areas.

The argument that people aren't providing real numbers for how much fansubs help is because its not really measurable. Is the loss of revenue that other media suffers when its pirated actual loss? It's not, it's estimated loss, how do you know that the person would buy it if they didn't pirate it? How are you supposed to keep track of how much fansubs helped if you can't keep track of the specific number of people that download them? Or keep trakc of if they only downloaded them because they could, or because they wanted to buy the english subbed version but none was available? When you can find a way to keep track of that, maybe you'll see the figures for how many people were convinced to buy a series because of the fansubs.

No- really, fansubbing is really different than straight piracy, and piracy has a lot of different shades as well.

One last comment about "derivative" works... I suppose you've never seen April Fool episodes of Naruto or mock ups of Initial D. I recall Animeco releasing the last episode of TOE with screwed up subs as a joke, mostly the project leader totally hating the ending and deciding to insert editorial for ever line of dialogue... The people who work on subbing deserve a lot more credit than they usually get, its only that the final product doesn't show the creativity that might have gone into subbing it. If you get involved or if you understand the original language, you might catch a little bit of it, maybe they dealt with a pun really well, or maybe they decided to translate a certain phrase to emphasize a nuance, but unless you know, I guess it would just look like naked piracy huh?

yeah I am patronizing you, but you know what I just realized, I don't really even know why I wrote something this long... or why I'd bother trying to convince you or people who think like you. I'd rather just call you names like "poop head" or "ignuramoose" and "fred" but I guess I'll just make an internet joke so here are some images of sammiches [IMG = SAMMICH.jPG]

"That's true to a certain extent. But the good thing about distro on the Internet is that it allows for even more control over the channels of distribution."

The point is that you have no control over what is being distributed. Even if a loyal fansub group decides to stop hosting, the fact that it had been freely available on the internet means that someone else can continue to do so. Even if it was true that fansubs tend to vanish from the internet after the official releases are out, it is only because people prefer to pirate and download the official release. It isn't out of virtue. It is simply one form of piracy being replaced by another. A fansub is just a pirated movie with subtitles added to it.


"As I said before, it's not because it's not possible to talk about the issue in such terms -- it's that such financial information is not publicly available."

1. Encourage fansubs
2. ????
3. Profit

If someone managed to fill in step 2, you would know.

Fred: I think most of your points are being address by others , but regarding, "Your logic is basically 1+1=2. Yes adding niches together gets a larger sum. But just because it is larger doesn't mean that it is large. Talking about a global niche is meaningless because you can't target a global niche as a whole. Translations must be targeted to specific language groups, products must enter the distribution chains of local markets. Once you get down to the nitty gritty of selling these cartoons and merch, it doesn't make sense to think of the audience from a global scale."

This my whole point. With word of mouth marketing/dialog online and online retailing, the cost of marketing and the cost of sale go down so much that "nitty gritty" of selling and the "target a global niche as a whole" are all possible without that much effort.

"This my whole point. With word of mouth marketing/dialog online and online retailing, the cost of marketing and the cost of sale go down so much that "nitty gritty" of selling and the "target a global niche as a whole" are all possible without that much effort."

The problem with fansubs is that the "marketing" amounts to distributing the product you would like to sell for free. If digital content is off the table then what you're basically talking about are posters, toys and the like. Unless you have a huge audience (ie big local markets and big global markets) it is very difficult to support an expensive enterprise like tv or movies.


"By allowing the fans to create demand, the publishers are using these file sharing networks and illegal derivative works as an extremely efficient form of marketing."

No, the demand was already there. Enthusiasts simply satisfy it by releasing pirated fansubs before official releases become available. Of course it is efficient. Pirates provide the bandwidth and the audience loves getting stuff for free. The problem is that there's no money in it for creators.


"Maybe if we focus on getting more money from fewer people, we can design business models around relationships and physical things rather than the content itself. Digital content might be better viewed as a marketing tool or metadata of the actual property or asset that is being promoted."

If creators have to rely on selling toys and the like to recoup expenses or even make a profit, they won't have as big an incentive to create. I have yet to see anyone show why such a development would be good for creativity. Neither have I seen a single case study in which piracy actually boosted sales or "created demand." Until you can furnish hard data, I will be a staunch conservative on this issue. So will companies that have valuable IP.

Fansubs came into being and continue to exist for one major reason; Japanese content producers are (for a variety of reasons) historically unwilling/unable/uninterested in licensing their content. A complete explanation of this would be the topic for a business paper in and of itself. The point of this is that the statement that "fansubs increase sales of legitimate product" is a red herring. Since the volume of licensed product is so low compared to the ammount of product existing which is not/can not be licensed that official product has ranged from zero to a very small percentage, of course ANY official product sales are an increase whether the product has or hasnt been fansubbed before.

The lack of "outcry" may possibly have more to do with the increased tollerance of derivative product in the Japanese market compared to western markets. Outside of branded designers and high tech patents, its pretty much anything goes over here as far as violation of trademarks. If there is a rule of thumb its that close/derivative copies are allowed as long as there is not too much money involved while outright copies of non-domestic product is A-OK.

Will someone tell me how a free complete copy of a show is "publicity"? I can understand a trailer or limited clips of a show being used to generate publicity, but not complete free copies. Thats like saying that $2 Hong Kong fake DVDs with overburned Chinese subs are "publicity" and not piracy.

Dojinshi as "free advertising" is also a red herring. Dojinshi are done in very limited print runs and generally only made available at comic conventions. They will only be available to the number of people who go there and obtain a copy from the short print run. Essentially, the people who make dojinshi are preaching to the choir as far as they know they will never reach anyone except the existing fan(aticial) consumer to begin with.

I'd also argue that the "long tail" does not apply in Japan at all. When content is marketed, it is only available for a certain ammount of time. As a rule only bona-fide mega hits go to second or third pressings/issues. If the customer didn't get it when it was released, tough luck on them for the most part. The idea of making money off back catalog is very new here. Even when back catalog is released it is treated as a "special limited edition" most of the time, sold at a vastly inflated price with a very short shelf life. This is changing, but VERY slowly.

As to the idea of fansubbers "pulling" their copies when licensed versions are announced or become available, that does not stop the "long tail" of all the P2P nets besides the major ones. As others have pointed out, files may still be found on Gnutella/DC/Kazaa/IRC/darknets/etc.

Essentially it all comes back to a business failure on the point of the Japanese content creators/publishers. If they were really interested in selling to fans outside Japan, official content would have existed in greater quantity in the past and now.

"Andrew, your comment about fansubbers keeping subbing when it gets licensed is not true.
[At least not for the shows I watch ;-)]
For instance, Genshiken was licensed the day before the last show aired in Japan. I still have to see that ep subbed. "

I actually didn't make the point that fan subbers keep subbing after a show gets licensed. My point was fan subs generally come out BEFORE the licensed product. For instance with Vision of Escaflowne the whole series was fan subbed before ADV released 1 legit tape in the u.s. and that before bit torrent and wide spread high speed internet. That sucks the stuff you want isn't being released fast enough, you might try finding a DVD with english subtitles. I bought the korean DVD of 2046 the other day and it has english subtitles, in fact most korean DVDs have the english option.

Brian:

"anyway, you'd think someone would pick up on the anime subculture as a good method for distributing video on demand. After all just using bit torrent and a few programs these dudes are distributing content to millions of people worldwide faster than the commercial services."

I agree totally. I think that the Japanese companies are missing a big opportunity by not catering to the demand for their shows online.

end Brian qoute.

my junk:
yeah that is true, but the strange thing I've just realized is that we often make this mistake of thinking oh wow a lot of people on the internet want this so we can make money off it i.e. turn it inot a business. I think part of fan sub's power comes from being a gift economy. Gift economies move 10x faster than their "legit" conterparts. I mean that's the problem with the net versus capitalism, wether it's p2p or fan subs people are so obsessed with the altruism of giving shit away they bust down hurdles and invent distribution networks faster than the capitalists can =) There's no way to make money off fan subs because the act of advertising or purchasing would just slow the whole thing down. But still, yeah you'd think some enterprising japanese and americans and europeans would license shows before they even air and debut anime in translation on the web simulatenously with the japanese release if people are willing to hunt down torrents for shows I'm sure they'd be willing to shell out a few bucks to get torrents from a legit professionally run site. I might add Star War ep 3 seems to be debuting worldwide on the same day (here in korea it's scheduled for may 27th).

regards for seosan,
a

Ive read close to all the posts on here and I pretty much only have one thing to say:

If Fansubs did not do what they are doing now I would NEVER have seen or even heard of the shows that are released by legitamite companies after they license them. I think this can be said for a lot of anime and a lot of people out there that watch the fan subs. I have bought product that is available to me in Canada for the simple reason that I saw it and enjoyed it online.

So in my perspective the point from some of those out there that fansubs do nothing to help the anime companies is nothing more than short sighted.

There is no doubt in my mind that the distribution of fansubs has a huge positive impact on the anime market in other countries across the world (other than its original release country).

SJ

Speaking as a fan who was introduced via this method, I would like to say that I have purchased two soundtracks, and plan to buy the 3rd, now that it has been released in Japan. I pay Cartoon Network little attention. While I like Anime, all of theirs is in English, and I don't care for the voice acting, usually. I am, however, looking forward to a Bi-Lingual DVD release in the United States, thanks to it being licenced. There's also two very interesting video games for the PS2 I'd like to have if and when they've been translated. Had there not been a fansubbing community, I probably would not have given the show half a chance. Owning legit anime is a point of pride. There is a cheap alternative to legal anime, even if you stop fansub groups from doing what they do. There are numerous bootleg anime companies based out of countries that do not have copyright laws. For comparison, I pay more than $30 per legal disc I buy. Bootleg discs can be had for less than $10. Many aren't even able to identify a bootleg copy. Fansubbing groups got me interested in this franchise, and in several more. Without them, I would be spending my money on other things. I'm not the only person who feels this way. Without demographics of the "good" and "bad" fans, I couldn't tell you if fansubs are a help or hinderance, but I'm betting that if they hurt, they don't hurt much. There's a lot of potential to create consumers who are not just fans, but who are also loyal to and respectful of a company. Forming deeper relationships between businesses and consumers would decrease the number of people willing to steal content. Endorsing, or at least not bothering, fansub sites that follow common sense rules fosters this kind of relationship. You can't stop the flow of information in this age, what you may be able to do is make people care about your company enough to buy your information because they understand the need to nurture its source.

I am an anime fan, and I download and watch an awful lot of fansubs. I am very familiar with the fansubbing community. I also own a nice tall stack of anime DVDs, as well as much anime merchandise.

To respond to Fred's assertation that the demand for anime was already there, I have to disagree. Until the fansubs are released, there is very little demand for the anime, only curiosity. It is only after fans have seen a few episodes that a true demand develops. You never see 10,000 peers on a torrent for the first episode of a new series, however you will on one for the latest episode of Naruto or Bleach. That's a huge following that wouldn't be there if it weren't for the fansubbers. Tens of thousands of people hungry for DVD releases, merchandise, collectors box sets, etc., who never would have been quite so rabid if they hadn't seen that fansub.

Fred also asks how a free complete copy of a show is "publicity". Well, put simply, that's how the creators publicise it in Japan - they broadcast it for free on television. Yet somehow they still have a massive market for the DVDs and other merchandise.

And when's the last time you saw an american anime publisher doing any real advertising? Beyond a few banners at anime conventions and banner ads on geeky websites, there's virtually none. They rely on the fansubs to create a community that will do word-of-mouth advertising for them.

When the Geneon representative spoke at the last anime con I went to, he didn't mention fansubs at all, other than references to "the community". He did, however, ask the crowd to please not purchase bootleg DVDs - HK bootlegs are a far more serious concern to these companies.

As for the persistance of fansubs on the internet after the offical product is availiable, this is not the fault of the fansubbers. Once DVD's of anything are released in America, rips of it are going to be made available on the internet. Dual-audio DVD rips appear on file sharing sites right next to the latest copy of Revenge of the Sith. It's not the fault of fansubbers, and it's not the same files that the fansubbers made available; it's just the way piracy is these days.

I second Lack Thereof's post. The anime fansub community CREATED the american anime market. They showed there was a demand for anime here, so commercial companies (which in a fair number of cases sprung from the community itself) formed to produce high quality content.


If this business model doesn't work, why are DVD box sets of television series so popular? I recorded every episode of the new Battlestar Galactica series on my Tivo with a DVD burner. But I'm going to buy the box set as soon as it comes out. Why? No commercials, better quality, bonus features(!) and most of all, because I want to reward the creators of that show for providing me with an excellent entertainment experience. That, I think, is the community component you are missing. A large portion of the anime community is passionate not only about the product, but the people who make them, and want them to continue to make new product. Another facet is other products that are related. Anything produced that can be branded will sell and make money for the studio involved.


I saw Last Exile when it was being distributed. As soon as the domestic release came out, I bought the whole set. I'm not a niche minority.



[I, for one, welcome our new Slashdot overruns]

Several things about fansubs are, I think, worth noting. First, ADV remains the only American anime distributor to have taken any kind of anti-fansubbing actions at all. The other companies out there all consider fansubbing to be a beneficial form of advertising-cum-market study, and some of them are fairly open about the fact.

It is commonly understood that Fruits Basket, for instance, would never have made it to America as fast as it did were it not for the phenomenal popularity of fan-translated versions. The idea of translating and publishing a 15-volume plus shoujo manga about an orphan girl playing housekeeper to a family of animal spirits in the woods would have seemed laughable to American publisher Tokyopop until they saw how immensely popular it already was in America.

Naruto is a lot more obvious a property, in that respect, but the fact that there were Naruto-specific conventions in America before it was ever released here cannot have been lost on prospective publishers and broadcasters, all of whom are perfectly aware that those hordes of American Naruto fans didn't become fans from reading the original Japanese comics or watching untranslated Japanese TV broadcasts.

Interviews and audio commentary tracks on DVD releases also make frequent and invariably complementary references to fansubs, because the people involved know that the first part of the word "fansub" is "fan," and that the fans involved represent a vital part of their audience.

I must second Lack Thereof and Kuroshiro posts.

However, I fear people are seriously under-estimiating the number of internet-anime watchers out there.

There are several sites offering Naruto for download via http and ftp for those of us who cant use torrents because of throttled or unavailible broadband. Of the two sites Ive visited, each has 100 000+ subscribers. Add this to the recently weekly totals of torrent downloads, 200 000+, and you very easily have in excess of 300 000 people interested in one 25 minute show every week. Try multiplying similar numbers for shows equally popular such as Bleach or previously FMA.

This is not to mention those that watch anime of the back of their friends. People who, for their own reasons, choose not to download, but copy. These people copy the most recent episodes when they meet, at LAN events or simply watch them at a friends out. I believe there are huge numbers these people, why? Because Ive been one of them.

Am I destroying the Anime market where I live (the UK)? No. Naruto and Bleach arent even availible here (and I've looked extensively in my local HMVs and Virgin shops). Do I contribute? Yes. I have the SJ manga books, some posters and I have imported dvds that cost me boths and and both legs.

If it wasnt for the Internet, I wouldnt have watched, and would have completely ignored anime. Period. I saw anime as Yu-Gi-Oh and Dragon Ball Z. I saw what publishers wanted me, made me to see. I saw what was aimed at children. I happen to be a 20 something year old student attending one of Britain's finest Universities.

It's a shame, I believe, that businesses still believe greater volume should be a key to greater profit. It's an out dated and frankly depressing view that many 'adults'/Execs hold as the only way to market.

Matt

To all those who dont think that merchandizing can keep a series up, two words: "Homestar Runner".

I'm a fan from Europe, I've been buying anime DVDs quite avidly from Japanese and mainly Region 1 DVD retailers for the last 6 years. I grew into the habit not from Fansubs bit from Sci-Fi channel releases of shows like Tenchi Muyo or Armitage III in 1997/8. From my own observations and dealings with Japanese online DVD shops I definately agree with Chris_B. I'm not privy to a lot of anime fansub content myself since I possess a slow internet connection (common to this country)
and I lead too busy a life to bother with LANS etc.
I would say that with better quality fansubs available now however, the companies are being short changed. I know local fansub downloaders in this country who even with legal availability (albeit limited at present) of anime DVDs would not buy the originals nor would they consider importing. I have also run into many anime fans from the States - online - who are of the same notion. I don't think fansubbing should be as prolific now as it has been in the past. With TIVO, DIVX and easy accessible NLE software it is possible to release episodes quickly and at HIGH quality/HIGH resolution. Let's face it - most of the magic is gone when you're rewatching the show again - then again who has the time to rewatch it again, so I doubt most fans would buy these shows on legit DVD.
Fansubbing is fine but it should be limited to a few episodes only or maybe to very low RES versions of the shows, something like 300 by 200. Secondly anime fans are of the opinion that fansubs offer superior translations anyway further nullifying the reasons for legitimate DVD purchasing.

When it comes to manga doujinshi - maybe I am confused by this but many if not most manga doujinshi seem to be just hentai S&M/child porn versions of legit anime manga IMO. I know there must be ones which are not but scouring seemingly normal Japanese (co.jp) manga shopping sites and even Ebay.com - you find the filth rampantly on sale there. Maybe this is an example of the niche marketing originally alluded in this article, anime/manga fans interested in reading Cardcaptor Sakura Hentai Doujishi are catered and so money can be made of them.

Some of you don't seem to understand the demand created by illegal hollywood movie transfers and unlicensed fansub transfers. When a movie like Star Wars Episode III is transferred around on the internet, once you have downloaded it, you now own everything you'd be obtaining by purchasing the official DVD release, excepting perhaps some special features. However, when you download a single anime episode, you have only obtained a small portion of what you would obtain by collecting the entire official DVD release. Anime series are generally at least 13 episodes, often 26, and in the case of a popular show they'll exceed the 50 episode mark.

For reference, Naruto's 137th episode just aired yesterday in Japan, has already been translated by one group (although they're not a very respected group since they translate licensed shows and focus more on speed of release than quality of product) although since Naruto has been licensed it is more difficult to get this episode than an unlicensed series.

Now, with your average 13/26 episode show, it is fairly common for it to be fully translated before licensing. However, with the super-popular shows, your Naruto, your One Piece, your Full Metal Alchemist, the shows are basically ALWAYS licensed before completion - and in this case, establishing a fan base willing to dish out money for dozens of DVDs is necessary. Obviously this model must have some merit, since ever since there have been companies selling anime, there have been fansubs.

Now, it's true that Naruto fansubbing has not been completely halted. However, these are episodes that won't be available in the US for years. If you're buying the DVD, then obviously you plan on watching it more than once, yes? Otherwise renting would be cheaper. Now, if you're going to watch something more than once, if you haven't seen an episode in over a year, you might be ready to watch it again.

Fullmetal Alchemist, another popular series, took over one year after the airing of the first episode in Japan until the release of the first DVD in the US, and is only releasing episodes at a pace of 4 every 2 months, which is half of the speed of the Japanese broadcast. In other words, it won't be finished releasing until 2007, which is over three years after fansub viewers would have started watching the series. Naruto took a lot longer to get licensed. In other words, the current Naruto fansubs aren't directly competing with the DVD releases, and the current episodes are the only ones that are really easy to get.

The days of companies waiting for shows to stop airing are ending, however. Many companies these days license shows before they even start airing - most likely at least partially to combat fansubbing. It often works. Who here has seen Samurai Gun? It was pre-licensed, and so NO ONE subbed it. It's virtually unknown, however, in the anime community. It will be interesting to see how this franchise fares in the US. Can anyone cite an example for me a show that was not fansubbed, yet popular in America?

Don't expect a long reply or anything - I didn't sleep last night because I was up downloading anime. I just wanted to add something. Things will ALWAYS be pirated, I don't see a way around it in this age, people will always find a way to get media like this free on the internet. Personally if I like a series and I see that it's released in Canada then I will do what I feel is my duty and buy some ridiculously priced DVDs. If you like something enough you'll buy it just for the image and sound quality and the fancy packaging etc... And especially as a way to support the people involved in making it. It's kind of like sending your vote to say MORE but with market statistics.

I think this system is actually really great, you can preview things on the internet, decide if it's worth your money and THEN go buy it. It raises the standards of what is considered worthy of your dollar, a form of quality control, or maybe a better term would be content evolution ;)

No longer can companies make a sh!tty movie and then give it a nice box and title to fool us. If we're interested in the movie we can download it, see that it is sh!t and not supply them with the budget to make more of it.

I think people are forgetting that everyone that doesn't pay for something, that this somehow means will not pay for anything they have seen already for free.

This is simply not true, I own tonnes of things and I also have tonnes of things I do not own, and I bought SpiderMan 2, Final Fantasy the spirits within, Gladiator and other movies I had already seen either at the movies or that I had already rented due to the simple fact that I wanted to support the people who's entertainment and skill I value, I dont pay people to make shitty products, I pay people when they make something I believe is worth the money. It's this free market idealogy that someone should be paid when for their work that they create when work is crap or valueless that is ridiculous, but is only necessary in society and culture of human beings with primitive technology who cannot meet their needs or acquire skills with so much ease making them valueless.

The rules of the game have changed with digital replication which is basically almost supernatural in that you can make infinite amount of virtually immaterial copies once it is ripped with great ease and speed, the fact is businesses are not taking advantage of internet distribution they are trying to wrap advertising models and older network programming practices around ancient tech (the TV / Satellite cable netoworks) and have shows on specific timeslots with commercials, this simply cannot work in the internet age where people live at faster paces who's time and money are limited.

Most normal people BUY their favorites and pirate the crap they wouldn't buy anyway. Think about this for the moment our current economic idealogy is based on human's inability to mass produce anything with ease, if you could replicate anyones skills or abilities, or products with ease, the economic idealogy andd social order would change in an instant. The fact that older Free marketeers don't want this change to maintain their near orwellian power over people to buy those fancy cars and mansions, well thats too bad. If some scientific technology is invented that gave humans easy and cheap access to immortality, the value of having and necessity of having children would decrease exponentially.

No one has infinite amount of money and this is totally lost on businesses who overproduce things and expect them to sell large amounts to everyone. It's just not possible for every business to succeed simply due to the fact that the money pool of any person who's entertainment and enjoyment lower priority then survival, means money is both finite and limited.

Re: Break

> The days of companies waiting for shows to stop airing are ending, however.

Well, it seems more and more companies are licensing before the show begins, or early on depending on ratings. Some shows like Ninja Scroll TV were co-created with US production teams and were pretty popular (and was never subbed to completion, as is was licensed already, I think about 4 eps made it then that was it. I personally didn't like it, but hey, each to their own). I think another one was Dead Leaves?

This is a good thing. I was pleased when Samurai Champloo DVD 1 was out in Australia even before the end of the series had screened in Japan, it shows things are getting faster and faster. I remember back in the early 90's when it took months to get anything subbed. How times have changed. The only thing that needs to improve is the freedom of being able to get anime screened. At the moment, everything is tied up in PayTV or (rarely) free to air.

Personally I'd prefer to see legal anime downloads with some sort of DRM to keep companies happy. A fair deal is either:

1) Pay per episode. Maybe $1 or $1.50. Or something reasonable to cover distribution, subbing, dubbing, etc. Whatever, if the companies say it's $x.xx to do it, then it's fine. I'd feel happier paying people when they're upfront about their costs.
2) Pay per series. Like a subscription. Companies would love this. They get money upfront to do a series and can track how many people want to see it and build up a customer base.

Either way, you get to watch every episode for a set period of time while the series is screening (say, and 1 month after it finishes). And at the end, offer the DVD's at a discount to reward people doing the right thing.

Even more radical, instead of hitting those fansub groups, why not work with them and get them on the bandwagon above? Maybe companies should license the scripts off them to get stuff out faster, and let people know they're working with everyone to promote anime legally.

Of course, some people will object (and claim everything should be free), but if companies are upfront about costs of time, effort and distribution, there should be no arguments.

I would hardly call Ninja Scroll TV "popular"... All three volumes, despite being fairly new, are ranked in the #19,000s in Amazon's DVD sales rankings. This, despite them being based off of a cult hit anime movie, which recently even had a special edition release that is still selling in the #14,000s despite being 10 years old. In contrast, a popular new samurai anime, Samurai Champloo, which was fully fansubbed, has it's latest volume ranked at #154 out of all DVDs. Volumes 1 & 2 are ranked ~#1500 and ~#500, respectively.

to PC and |3reak: Ninja Scroll TV wasn't popular, and never finished, because it was bad. It was well-animated, but uninteresting. I should know, I fansubbed half of it, and about the same time the old AnimeJunkies/Urban Vision drama went down, I was getting really sick of the show as a whole anyway, and I'm a big fan of the genre.

Similarly (since it's relevant, and another thing I've had my hands in a little bit), Samurai Champloo is a great show. There's no surprise that it's doing particularly well in sales: it's got a universal appeal and the same blend of great music and great animation and interesting characters and scenarios that Cowboy Bebop had.

Naruto (yet another one I've worked on, this is like re-walking my fansubber life) is a whole different kettle of fish though. There's two sides to the argument on fansub -- the "it's free promotion" side, and the "it'd be huge anyway, and we'd make more money too" side, and they're both pretty impossible to quantify. For the same reason that Ninja Scroll TV shows lackluster sales, and that Samurai Champloo shows great sales. And incidentally, why Naruto will probably post pretty high scores too.

As a fansubber, I like to believe that the work I do is largely beneficial to the companies that I'm so callously "stealing" from, and does more good than harm. I've encountered all types, from those who'll buy the dvds even if the show isn't good, to those who absolutely won't buy the dvd releases ever no matter what. And most people fall in the middle, they'll buy what they really like a lot, and not buy what they don't particularly care about.

Both sides of the argument would love to have hard numbers to throw around, like "sales on this series were 35% higher because of fansub promotion" or "sales on this were 40% lower because the fansubs ate away our market". But real markets don't work that way. There's no way to do a controlled experiment on the effects of fansubbing, because every show is its own entity, and fansubbers tend to gravitate toward anything that has more universal appeal.

Urban Vision thought that Ninja Scroll would be a huge moneymaker for them -- it built on an old franchise with updated artwork. ShoPro knows Naruto is going to be huge in the US, not just because it already is, but because it's already like the persistent #2 rated show in Japan (last I knew). But even that has confounds: a much larger group of people will consider buying 4 disks of a 13 episode series, or 7 or 8 of a 26 episode series, than 70 or 80 of a 250 episode series (as Naruto could potentially run to, with the as-yet ongoing manga and the introduction of filler arcs). No matter how good it is, or how competitively priced, the sheer bulk is intimidating to a lot of buyers.

Which brings me back to the point: markets for something like this is absolutely jam-packed with confounds, and there's simply no way to conclusively GET those quested-for facts and figures by any reliable means. Shows stand or fall on their own merit, not based on whether they're fansubbed or not. The impact of the whole community is nothing more than a push one way or the other on the bottom line, from where I see it. And the simple fact is, because (as far as I know) the R1 dvd companies aren't publicly traded, they don't even have to tell us what their bottom lines ARE, much less speculate on how much those are affected by what fansubbers do.

just for future generations of web browsers

http://slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=05/06/30/184207&from=rss

apparently a lot of anime doesn't come to the u.s. becuase they think fan subbing is hurting the industry.

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