Anime, YouTube, and Me


I recently received an e-mail from YouTube informing me that some of my videos had been “rejected” for copyright infringement. The company that reported the infringement was none other than Yomiuri Broadcasting. The videos rejected were an short clip and the entire episode it came from, which was posted after many requests from other members. The short clip was posted to demostrate how numbers on Japanese license plates could be read as words like “yoroshiku” (46-49).

I have since taken down all uploaded episodes as well as the offending clip. I could have argued that the clip falls under fair use for semi-educational purposes but I think I would lose on the factor of “amount and substantiality”. Why? Because the clip was a little under four minutes long and a good case could be made that it represented the “heart” of the episode. I have two other similarly-classifed clips on the site which are each about 60-90 seconds long and consist of mainly one joke; I’m keeping those on until rejected because I have a slightly better defense for them.

Pretty much everyone who visits YouTube on a regular basis knows that recently aired episodes (usually subbed) can be found there. Before the website instituted a 10-minute limit for uploaded videos on late March 2006, I had uploaded five whole fansubbed episodes. After that, I split two episodes into three parts each but then stopped because it was difficult to find good points at which to split the episodes and also because I had started to develop significant qualms about the whole venture. Other members, however, do not seem to have the same ethical views as me and have applied for Director status so that they may post episodes in their entirety without having to make cuts.

As a result of this members have had their videos removed by Yomiuri and some even had their accounts suspended! Apparently this is not a new happening. The blog chosaq links to an Mainichi article stating many Japanese corporations including NHK, Fuji TV, and Yahoo Japan have issued recent “cease & desist” action to get content removed.

Now, I think that some types of anime content on YouTube do not seem to infringe on copyright and WOULD fall under fair use: openings/closings, AMV’s, and fandubs. Opening and closing animations would most certainly promote the derivative works than detrimentally affect them so they are a boon to the production companies. Although AMV’s are technically illegal, I view them the same as mashups or remixes – they use the music and the footage to create an distinguishable new work.

Watching fandubs is kind of a guilty pleasure of mine because you have fans experimenting in voice acting and attempting to recreate the same kind of feelings the seiyuu evoked in viewers. There are a few good ones but most are so bad that companies should not even begin to consider going after them. Besides, I would argue that since they are not offering a near-equal alternative to the original experience that they are not infringing. Also, fandubbers usually perform select scenes and not entire episodes so there shouldn’t be a problem in terms of length. It also seems to be a good starting place for aspiring English voice actors.

The best one I’ve come across is a scene from Tsubasa Chronicle in German: Link


10 responses to “Anime, YouTube, and Me

  1. Fair use is a vague defense. When it comes to internet services based in the US like YouTube, the DMCA just makes it easier to take crap down than to argue for it one way or another. Because in the end, even OP/ED and PVs are copyright material, and the owner can do whatever they want with it. Same with AMVs–they are derivative works (not even mentioning the music), and it is still a copyright violation. The special thing about YouTube is its popularity and it is centralized, making DMCA takedowns easy for companies. We see it happening because it is easy for companies to do it.

    What’s also notable is that a lot of Japanese clips do end up on YouTube (as there are no Japanese version or knockoff of it AFAIK), and viewed amongst the Japanese. In that sense the usual fansub logic just doesn’t work. While I’ll agree that it may not be smart for companies to request them to be taken down, they can if they want to.

  2. This article caught my attention, mainly because of the mention of fandubs (or what I call fakedubs in my case). It’s a hobby that my friends and I have of recording ourselves as we dub over the characters in an episode (all improv., making up our own dialogue). It turns out quite hilarious.

    Here’s a youtube link to a sample we did.

    Anyways, I liked the points you brought up about the application of fair use, (despite the DMCA). I can say though, that I’m against people using youtube to host full episodes. I think a public upload site such as youtube should only be used for uploading works of some new or creative value, while the uploaders of unaltered episodes should do one of the following: 1. Not upload the files at all (as the companies would demand), or 2. At least host the episodes on their own server so that they are the one’s held responsible rather than youtube.

    Unfortunately, too many of these uploaders are too young, immature, or ignorant to understand these ethics, therefore giving fair use and sites like youtube a bad name.

    (PS: The full episodes I refer to are those released for sale in America. Distribution of unlicensed or unreleased fansubs is acceptable by my rule of thumb and even by many of the companies that turn a blind eye to fansubs.)

  3. I don't watch ANIME.
    I want to know why people like it.. or what's cool with it.
    I might want to try watching it someday,
    what can you recommend?

  4. well whatever you do don’t watch love hina, if you watch that i’m sure you won’t ever try to watch anime again. it’s the mostidiotic thing onthe earth.

    but anyways please flag love hianv ids on youtube.

  5. Dont lose hope! We have formed a group on Youtube to save anime on Youtube called “Anime Army” plz join and help us for the sake of anime. I am “daykm” on Youtube.

    The reason why you couldnt argue with them was because they outnumbered you, plz e-mail for more info.

  6. I am from Japan. I moved to England when i was 3 years old so i don’t remember much about Japan.
    I do have 1 reminder. Anime!
    Youtube was the only place i could watch my fave shows. AND NOW THEY’RE GONE!!!!!!!!!
    I really miss watching Wolf’s Rain, YU GI OH! and Tokyo Mew Mew.

  7. How do i join the “Anime Army” group.
    I WANT TO SAVE WOLF’S RAIN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  8. I want all anime save. please!!!!!

  9. Midna go to this link and automatically you will be joined.

    We have found quite alot of ways to get out of this situation, but we need everyones help so we the anime fan community can show youtube and companys that we are out there and want them to stop and this to be reasoned with.

  10. And others who want to save Anime on Youtube follow the link to the group “Anime Army”. Your help can help save anime.