An interesting article on internet anime “pirating”

I have stumbled across this interesting piece of article yesterday. Thought it’ll be cool to share:

http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/news/2011/02/why-anime-fans-pirate-the-shows-they-love.ars

To be perfectly frank, I believe that no “anime fan” (real or semi-real or fake) out there could honestly claim they have no experience undermining the integrity of this delicate little concept called “intellectual property”. Personally I am very interested in discussions on this topic, be it built around anime or the more mainstream music, movie and software industries. I won’t go into details here today though, or it runs the risk of growing into a 10,000 word essay which would spell certain doom for me at work tomorrow…

As a matter of fact, I almost created a new category in this blog named “legal and compliance” about a minute ago. Yet on second thought it’s most likely to be an eyesore and never clicked upon, so never mind : P

Back to the article, while I do not support or encourage any action that could potentially put one in a legally precarious situation, I do strongly affirm the contribution of subtitle-groups and “grass root distributors” to the growth of anime culture outside Japan. Considering the sheer amount of work, dedication of sub-groups to their cause (volunteer in most cases, but I have heard rumor of certain modes of profit developing in several particular cases) is respectable on all levels. Also,  the spirit of sharing, and an esprit de corps in the huge yet largely invisible anime community outside Japan is truly inspiring in many cases. Think certain Youtube channels, for example.

As argued in the article above, “price” is not a major weight in the balance. What people really want through “pirating” are the “services” provided from “grass root distributors” including fan culture, feeling of community and the wholesome preservation of cultural elements in anime titles. Of course, these days we start to observe certain publishers with deeper awareness to the value of anime related culture (aka the die-hardness of otakus and Japanese wannabees : ), and try hard to provide the above elements.

Also, I would like to add that in comparison to the waves of anime titles being produced and aired in Japan, what we can get here in North America is way too limited. For example, the Summer animes (new titles only) currently airing in Japan is numbered at 102 as of 8-31-2011. This number not only indicates the extraordinary anime producing capability in Japan, but also the existence of a highly-commercialized distribution network with mature mode of profit.  Oh, and don’t forget about the demand.

In other words, market for anime in North America is still mostly under-developed. Publishers are yet to find a sustainable mode of profit while keeping the value of their products true to consumer expectations. Or perhaps the development of anime market is eventually demand-pulled, and there is simply not enough audiences out there?

Otakus have no need to worry though, since moe power is least likely to fail before the economy does, and we could only afford to watch anime for free by then anyways… (j/k, please do not treat this sentence seriously to prevent unnecessary panicking)

Anime industry in Japan is huge with dozens of new titles coming out each season

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2 responses to “An interesting article on internet anime “pirating”

  1. To be honest, it’s all a crapshoot. Most companies just don’t know what sells (yes, even some moe titles)–and I’m talking about Japan. So for NA publishers it just makes it ten times harder for them to pick a title that they think might sell, especially since they need to get a particular title licensed while it’s ongoing.

    • Kudos to calling it a crapshoot…

      well at least in Japan most animes have it’s manga as a popularity test, in NA this mode doesn’t work at all… I guess we are doomed to watching animes 5 years behind Japan’s schedule (through legal channels, that is) as a punishment for liking an alien culture : P

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