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