Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Crunchyroll - Pot Sues Kettle

You know, after reading some fan comments over the past few weeks it's clear that over the last few months I've been way too quiet about the little hypocrisies in our industry. Time to change that.

So I was perusing the news blurbs over on the Anime ecomatrix this morning, when I saw this:

"Crunchyroll and TV Tokyo have issued a lawsuit against 13 YouTube uploaders for allegedly illegal distribution of anime episodes, according to a copyright infringement complaint filed on May 11 and served between July and September. Crunchyroll and TV Tokyo are seeking reparation for "great and irreparable injury that cannot fully be compensated or measured in money" because of the defendants' allegedly unauthorized copying, uploading, and distributing via YouTube of multiple Naruto, Naruto Shippūden, and Bleach episodes.

Based on their YouTube subscriber information, the defendants reside in the United States, Japan, Canada, Denmark, and Hungary. Crunchyroll maintains its main offices in California (as does YouTube), so the suit was filed as a U.S. copyright violation in the Northern District Court of California. For the purposes of the lawsuit, TV Tokyo is giving Crunchyroll legal permission to act on its behalf in order to "permanently remove the illegal uploads of infringing parties from file-sharing services and to obtain legal relief against infringers."

I just find it a bit entertaining as, before they went legit, Crunchyroll got it's start and built it's audience streaming unlicensed fansubs captured from torrents. A little history:

"Launched in the summer of 2006, Crunchyroll is a video-streaming site run by Crunchyroll, Inc. that originally grew by serving illegal (unlicensed) content, namely Japanese Animation (anime). The site generated revenue by soliciting donations and through advertising. After failing to be bought out by Viacom in 2007, Crunchyroll secured venture capital funding to the tune of $4 million through Venrock."

Of course, as soon as they got the angel funding from Venrock (and started working up SEC filings so they could privately sell more shares) they had to go legit, but they built their original audience and 'brand' on unlicensed content. So let's not forget that Kun Gao, Vu Nguyen, Sanha Han, Brandon Ooi, James Lin and many others have gotten rich off an enterprise that started deep in the shylocks.

Just something to think about the next time you are watching Anime there. I'm sure there will be outrage from the fan community over their persecution of YouTube users, and if not, I hope the irony does not escape you. :-)


MARl0 said...

Oh god the irony. Their past is exactly why I refuse to use or support Crunchy Roll. I'm well aware of their past, and I will not support that site under any circumstances. And that has always been my stance on that matter.

tenkenX6 said...

I wasn't a fan of Crunchy Roll back then, and still am not a fan of them to this day. They did too many "shady things" to make a quick buck and gain popularity. I find it hard to believe they all just suddenly "washed their hands clean and became good anime supporting samaritans" because they went legit and got a financial backing. These are the two main reasons why I'll never like or support Crunchy Roll.

rossalthor said...

I feel the same way. I always feel bitter towards Crunchyroll whenever I see advertisements for "so-and-so show now simul-cast on Crunchyroll!" Needless to say I refuse to use their service. Even back in my younger days when I still thought fansubbers had a legitimate argument, (hind-sight is 20/20) I still thought Crunchyroll was criminal.

Here's a nice interview you should all read that Yu Nguyen gives ANN in 2008.

GGFF said...

I generally love reading your newsletter, but every time you link to this article you come across as extremely obnoxious. The fact of the matter is that Crunchyroll is now a legit business that streams hundreds of shows to thousands of anime fans around the world, and they have a right to protect what they paid for. The way they got into the business does not change that fact. Even as a customer and fan of your store, I would hate to know you personally if this is the way you talk and feel about people who have made mistakes in the past that they have since fixed.

Robert said...

#GGFF - Hey, We didn't start our business selling bootlegs or doing other illegal activities. The folks at Crunchyroll didn't make a 'mistake', they knew exactly what they were doing (and didn't care) and got rich starting an enterprise selling a product that was not theirs to sell - which at the time was illegal. I suppose in your world it's OK for someone to startup a pharmaceutical company by selling crack cocaine (it's the fastest road to profits after all), as long as they make good later and 'lament their mistake?'

Gimme a break.

Their brand will be forever tainted because of the way they got started. And I just like to poke a little fun at them for it, and remind people from time to time how they got their start.

So get over it. :-)