According to a report on the anime BitTorrent site AnimeSuki, users of the site were recently warned with letters reportedly from Comcast Corporation titled “Notice of Claim of Copyright Infringement.” The letters notified the users that they had distributed anime in America without a distribution license. A few of the titles mentioned in the notices included Mobile Suit Gundam 00 and Higurashi no Naku Koro Ni Kai.
For those unaware, BitTorrent is a peer-to-peer file sharing method that separates parts of the file and distributes them to all uploaders in the swarm. Downloaders then have these files sent to them from each of these different uploaders, thereby reducing bandwidth on any particular system, and increasing download speed. The BitTorrent system is often used for legal purposes, such as distributing trailers and game demos.
The notified users (uploaders, because uploading is the target of most legal action) are now under the dangerous shadow of an impending lawsuit, as ISPs continue to step up their legal action against fansubbers and other users of BitTorrent. Much of this has to do with Japan’s request to the American government this past October to prevent the unauthorized distribution of Japanese animation.
It is believed that Comcast (among other companies) was erroneously asked by an American company, BayTSP, to send out the notices on behalf of ODEX, a Singapore-based company that has become infamous for threatening Singaporean fansub downloaders with lawsuits. BayTSP stated soon after the AnimeSuki post that the messages were sent by accident, and BayTSP is not currently not pursuing legal action against fansubbers outside of Singapore.
Comcast has also been put under pressure from internet freedom advocacy groups for allegedly restricting bandwidth to customers who used BitTorrent, under the pretenses of stopping illegal torrenting.
Wether this was intentional or not, it all represents not only a change in how governments and businesses are dealing with the fansubbing “problem,” but also how anime fans themselves are changing. With the advent of YouTube and a new generation of anime fans coming into their fandom without knowledge of fansubs, there has been a notable change. These young fans are just not buying their DVDs any more. Without strong DVD sales and fan loyalty, companies are turning to the one thing that clearly causes this problem: fansubbing. So if we want this to change, if we want things to be like they used to, we as fans need to step up. We must encourage the purchase of DVDs, dissuade torrenting and viewing of licensed anime online, and show anime companies that we fans can still maintain that respect for the creators that has been a staple of otakudom since its dawn.
[via Anime News Network]