Animesuki target of legal action by Japanese anime studio
The only thing that's surprising to me is that it's taken this long for something like this to happen. Obviously, Media Factory has decided that the benefit of allowing fansubs is outweighed by the costs. I personally wonder if the fact that decent fansubs are so easily available on the Internet is starting to affect the amount that American distributors are willing to pay to Japanese studios for rights to distribute anime; after all, why would ADV, Viz, or a smaller distributor pay top dollar when much of their target audience can download the series for free?
Removal of Media Factory Inc. Works
AnimeSuki is a website that aims to be a portal for finding all unlicensed English anime torrents. By limiting the content to only unlicensed anime, we had tried to avoid associating AnimeSuki with piracy, even though as stated on the Licensed Anime page, fansubs are technically a violation of copyright. By not listing licensed anime, AnimeSuki avoided getting into any legal trouble with US anime companies, simply because we don't list anything they hold the copyright of.
As also stated on the page mentioned above, up until now (or we must unfortunately say: up until recently) fansub groups and anyone involved in the publication of fansubs had little to worry from legal pressure from Japan (ie. from the anime studios - the original copyright holders). We believed that at best Japanese anime studios condoned our actions or at least ignored us as being not much of a threat to them (in terms of revenue, etc).
Unfortunately, it seems times have changed. On December 7, 2004 AnimeSuki received an email from a Tokyo law firm who represents the interests of Media Factory Inc. (a Japanese anime studio) requesting us to stop uploading "works" (anime series) of MFI to our website and/or stop "inducing" our visitors to websites where their "works" can be downloaded.
Needless to say, AnimeSuki has never offered direct downloads of any anime series, nor (with very few exceptions) had anything to do with facilitating the downloading of any of the anime series listed on the site. Also, considering the circumstances it's not entirely sure if, in case this issue ever goes to court, whether they would succeed as AnimeSuki is nothing more than a collection of links, which should not be illegal.
However, the legal notice was addressed at me (GHDpro, creator and webmaster of AnimeSuki) personally and I do not wish to get involved in any kind of legal trouble. Therefore I have decided to remove any links to any "works" (anime series) by Media Factory Inc. from the site immediately. I hope you can understand that I don't wish to become the target of any legal action that Media Factory Inc. might take if I fail to comply with their request, regardless of the level of success such legal action might actually have. I simply want avoid any legal trouble, period.
Affected anime series by Media Factory Inc.
The decision to no longer list any anime series (present and future) of Media Factory Inc. currently affects these series:
* Kimi ga Nozomu Eien (including Akane Maniax)
* Genshiken (including Kujibiki Unbalance)
* School Rumble
* RahXephon (OVA only, TV + Movie is licensed already)
* UFO Princess Warukyure (any season)
A complete list of Media Factory Inc. anime series can be found here.
Will fansub groups stop fansubbing these series?
That is of course entirely up to them. However, it is not entirely impossible that due to these developments fansub groups decide it isn't worth the risk and may drop these series.
You may have noticed the affected series (mentioned above) are now marked as "licensed" in the database of AnimeSuki. Please note that this is only because this is the easiest way to get these series permanently off the site. It has no other purpose and meaning than that. The scripts of AnimeSuki will be modified to display a different message soon.
Is this a hoax?
Unfortunately it is not. The main reason for delaying the decision to remove the links was to verify the authenticity of the email. However, the only conclusion we could come to is that this is real. Apart from the email a real letter was also sent from Japan by international mail, futher confirming its authenticity.
The beginning of the end?
Maybe, maybe not. Depends on if any other Japanese anime studio decides to follow MFI's example. AnimeSuki will continue to list fansubs of anime series for which MFI does not hold the copyright, unless told to do otherwise. So unless AnimeSuki is made obsolete by virtually every anime studio taking the same action as MFI, we won't close down!