Sunday, May 31, 2009

Hacker Cracks Funimations Servers Putting One Piece Simulcast on Hold

Late this fine Saturday evening ICv2 is reporting:

Funimation Entertainment, which, with the cooperation of Toei Animation, was planning to simulcast a subtitled version episode #403 of the One Piece anime series at 9pm (CDT) on Saturday night, just one hour after its Japanese premiere, has announced that their servers were hacked, and that the hacker posted episode #403 online.

Funimation issued the following statement on Saturday, “As a result of this illegal act, all U.S. and Canadian fans will be deprived of access to this great anime series for the immediate future. We will make every effort to locate and prosecute the perpetrator(s) to the fullest extent of the law and will provide updates regarding this most serious matter.”

Funimation and Toei’s plan to make new episodes of One Piece available within an hour of when they air in Japan was the latest development in a growing movement to make anime available online legally even faster than fan-subbed versions can be produced, but it appears that the actions of one individual may have jeopardized the entire program.

My guess is that the 'Hackers' are probably outside of the country anyway, so any 'effort to locate and prosecute' them will most likely be a waste of time.

I really don't understand why this would jeopardize Funi's online simulcast programming unless it put them in hot water with Toei over their license arrangements. In my mind's eye I can imagine a phone call or e-mail from a Teoi executive telling them to pull that content until they can guarantee they have a secure platform for it.

Something like this could further complicate any R1 studios plans to try to monetize Anime content online. If they can't guarantee the Japanese that the content will be secure and used only as agreed, they may find them reluctant to enter into future partnerships for online content. After all, the whole purpose of those 'licensed' simulcasts is to crack down on fan subs and torrents (good luck is all I have to say to that). If hackers can grab the content and make it available outside the licensed venue anyway, that pretty much defeats the purpose.

It also has to make you wonder what other info those hackers could gain access to, especially if the simulcast or download site offers free or paid subscriptions and has a database of customer information. Funi better have their IT crew in there plugging those holes quick. I hope they work weekends. :-)

It certainly is an interesting development. I'll post more as it becomes available. Stay tuned!

UPDATE: Funimation has officially cancel One Piece simulcast for now, and the series has also been removed from both Hulu and Joost. The really strange thing is that Hulu has licensed the content directly from Toei and not via Funimation.

ANN is also reporting:

The North American anime distributor Funimation is not currently streaming episodes of the 2009 Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood anime series on its website, even though it has been simulcasting episodes since it premiered in Japan and overseas last month. This series was one of the three television anime that Funimation was slated to stream this season within a week of the Japanese airings. Funimation has not announced if the new Fullmetal Alchemist anime's unavailabilty on its website is temporary or not. The series is still available on Hulu. The other two anime that Funimation had planned to simulcast were One Piece and Phantom ~Requiem for the Phantom~. Funimation cancelled its simulcast of One Piece on Saturday (the same day it was to have started) and cited the leak of the latest episode before it aired in Japan. Phantom episodes are still available for streaming.

Nothing ever seems to go as planned in this business...


Starcade said...

It is becoming clearer and clearer that any monetization process (online, DVD, or otherwise) for anime is a dead animal waiting to be road-killed.

We now have evidence that even day-of-release streaming is not satisfactory for the fansubbers who have taken over the anime industry over the last 3-5 years. They want *full ownership of the content* -- nothing more or less.

Any monetization process would require some degree of willingness (not to mention _ability_) to control the content to the point of defending the financial value of the product.

This, and the abject arrogance of a bunch of "fans" bordering on economic terrorism against the anime industry (yes, I will go there), is why I believe anime has no realistic future over here in the States (and probably doesn't in Japan either).

If I'm Toei, I not only pull the plug on One Piece, but Funimation loses their licenses with Toei. I see, as a _medium_ result (not a maximum one) the complete loss of the One Piece franchise here in America.

Starcade said...

Another two pieces of evidence:

FMA: Brotherhood English-subbed ep. 9 stolen and on the fansub channels a day before it was to start streaming legally here.

Phantom's episode 10 has been stolen before it aired in Japan.