As a creator myself I understand the need to protect your intellectual property (on some level), I just happen to disagree with most people and companies approach to it. In the case of Anime and Manga it would likely have never made a real impact outside of Japan and become popular in the United States and English speaking countries if it wasn’t for pirates, fan sub communities and scanalation groups. Instead of prosecuting these people media companies should be thanking them, and more importantly recruiting them!
Anime and Manga Pirates Provide A Service That is in Demand
Traditional business models and approaches are failing. There is a reason Blockbuster was eaten alive by Netflix and why Gamefly is becoming so popular, convenience and a better experience. Crunchy Roll may be a step in the right direction but its not enough to compete with the services pirates are providing for FREE! To be truly competitive they need to step up and learn from their competition. I suspect that most of the decision makers at media companies both in the states and abroad are not Millennnials or they would have figured this out. You can upload the content to the web and simulcast it online and stream it with in video ads and banner ads on the side and make revenue that way. By uploading yourself first, you eliminate the incentive for pirates to even bother. Offer ad free streaming with a subscription purchase (like you do now) for those who don’t want to deal with the ads.
Streaming Pirate sites that upload free to watch Anime are providing the following:
- Free to watch Anime with Ads
- Anime immediately ready to watch within hours of the on air release at no cost
- Very accurate Fan subbed translations of Anime within hours of on air release
- Creating a community of user feedback and ratings and recommendations based on other fans
ARE YOU REALLY SURPRISED THAT PEOPLE TURN TO THE FREE STREAMING SITES?!
And by giving it away they are making ad revenue and there are no strings attached, like having to have a subscription or you can’t watch it for free until a week after it’s already been out. If you truly are interested in defeating Pirates you have to think of them as legitimate competitors in your market because as far as your audience is concerned the only difference between you is they are offering a better experience for FREE.
If You’re Seriously Interested In Stopping Pirates…
If media companies that produce Anime and Manga and distribute them are really concerned about protecting their intellectual property, which (in my opinion) they are NOT, they are interested in protect their profits (which is completely understandable) then there are some really simple common sense things they can do that would make them more money, make fans happy and cost them less than pursuing pirates. You eliminate the incentive to bother! You recruit them, because clearly they understand your audience better than you do and have built loyalty and trust around their brand and have already contributed to yours indirectly. Here’s how they could address this:
- Recruit from the top Fan Sub groups and communities and help them get acceptable Subbed Anime and Manga Scanalations out faster.
- Buyout the websites of the most popular Pirate Anime Streaming and Manga Scanalation sites and recruit the people involved to keep doing what they are doing and offer them salaries and a revenue share.
- Allow them to distributing your material and give them direct access to make it easier and just take control of the advertising, in fact give them more material to work with!
- Allow Download of every episode to be purchased (as soon as the episode airs) individually at a low rate or for users to buy a season pass to have downloads available in a series as soon as they come out a discounted rate. You can still get DVD sales regardless via bonus content and the fact people like the extras and collecting the the artwork on the cover etc. The people who buy Anime DVD boxsets are buying them for collector value, not to watch them over and over.
Do know why this make sense? You absorb your competition and turn them into your distribution pipeline, and you are leveraging their loyal audience instead of pissing off your own fans and customers. Not to mention this grows the popularity of your intellectual property. When you produce merchandise there will now be more people aware of your characters and more willing to buy it. You may even find you had fans in markets and locations you’ve overlooked. You’d get access to analytical data that you haven’t had before that can help you understand your audience better. It’s not rocket science to people who actually live and work in the modern world.
The old ways are gone, its time to understand how people want to consume their content in the 21st century, you know that lesson everyone should have learned from Blockbuster being crushed by Netflix…
Roberto Blake is a Photographer and Digital Artist. When writing for Anime Arsenal Roberto specializes in Cosplay Photography, Custom Design and the Anime Convention experience.