Thursday, September 22, 2011

Does anime bootlegging lose the industry customers, or gain new fans?

I'm sure many of you heard the big anime news that has been circulating over the last 24 hours. Crunchyroll and TV Tokyo have joined forces to file lawsuit against a gang of anime fans that were illegally ripping/uploading anime to YouTube. The content include shows like Naruto and Bleach. YouTube was contacted and has since removed the episodes in question.

I can see how the act itself is illegal. There are certain streaming deals made between Crunchyroll and TV Tokyo, as well as other anime companies, and these rules give them rights to air certain anime episodes at certain times. People that take these episodes and upload them somewhere else are breaking the rules of the deal, and both companies have the right to legally go after them.

What's my issue with the story, then? Well, there's one line in the lawsuit that really has me scratching my head. According to the lawsuit, TV Tokyo claims that actions like this will "lose a customer opportunity". In other words, they say that anyone that watches these programs on YouTube is losing them viewers, as well as customer opportunities.

I have to ask you guys, do you agree with this line of thinking? I don't believe what the people did is right, but I'm not sure I agree with what TV Tokyo is saying. Much like letting friends borrow games, books or music, I would think that spreading the word on anime might actually net new customers. They watch the upload, want to see more and head to the official sources to do so. Not every view goes that way, but I would think that a good amount do.

Again, I'm not saying what these uploaders did is right. I'm just trying to decide if TV Tokyo's reasoning makes sense.


  1. Personally, I find Crunchy Roll to be absolute scum. Crunchyroll got it's start and built it's brand and audience by streaming unlicensed fansubs captured from torrents. They were a pirating site, plain and simple. And it's makers got rich off an enterprise that screwed the anime industry. It's something to think about the next time you watch anime there.

    Anyway, as far as TV Tokyo's claims go, I'm inclined to agree with them. The problem with introducing anime to new customers through illegal means, is that nearly all of said new customers get hooked on the idea that anime is always free. Give them a taste of it, and they'll just gobble up their anime by those same means from that point forward.

    The anime industry isn't like the gaming industry when it comes to the sheer impact it has on the industry. The R1 anime market in particular is a sinking ship, and it's almost exclusively as a result of piracy. It is BEYOND rampant among anime fandom in North America. And the sense of entitlement of said fans can be quite disturbing indeed.

  2. They aren't loosing customer opportunity. In fact they are gaining it.

    Downloading and streaming shows through the internet open up the series to a huge audience that would never bother making an investment for Crunchy Roll or other companies.

    Just look at Minecraft, it is so easy to download it for free, yet people buy it anyway. Why? Because Notch is open to the idea of pirating, but feels in the long run people will go ahead and buy anyway.

    And I mean come on...I wouldn't be watching Naruto on Disney XD anyway with that horrid editing, so they aren't loosing any customer opportunity from me.

  3. I'm not going to deny that one of the reasons I got into anime was through bootlegs like those found on Youtube and other streaming sites, many of the anime I own were originally shows I either watched on the Internet or just downloaded the subbed version off the Internet. Then one day I realized what I was doing and began actually making an effort to support the Industry.