Sunrise getting stupid (What would Lelouch do?)

I’m confident that I personally will never see one of these:

Dear (Redacted) Site Administrator,

This is Lantis Corporation.

We invest in the production committees of, and protect the IP of, the anime titles “Akikan”, “Asu no Yoichi”, “Sora o Miageru Shoujo” and “Kurokami”.

We have discovered that you appear to be using parts of our works on your site. We would like to request that you delete these parts, as soon as you have read this.

We do not permit any unauthorised images of our shows, of the characters or otherwise, in whole or in part, and expressly forbid the publication of such.

Regardless of whether the infringement is for profit or not for profit, it constitutes violation of our copyrights under Clause 1, Paragraph 23 of the Copyright Act.

Please be warned that should you not delete the infringing material we will be taking legal action against you.

As I’m merely a little, tiny ant of a blog in a wide ocean of anime blogs. But Sankaku Complex is reporting that Sunrise is coming with jackhammer in hand to demand that anime fan sites remove screencaps and even fan art. I’m no expert, but I question the legality of trying to prohibit fan art in particular. Seems like a faithful reproduction of an actual Code Geass scene might fall under Sunrise’s copyright rights, but I can’t imagine how a chibi-version of Kallen or a Santa version of CC wouldn’t fall under fair use. But I’m no lawyer, so I won’t argue the legal details.

I will comment from a marketing standpoint on the utter stupidity of Sunrise’s new policy. Screencaps, fan art don’t replace the actual product. They help promote it. While it’s annoying when episodes get pulled from YouTube, and though I don’t necessarily think it’s a good marketing idea, I understand the reasons behind it, and I think it’s acceptable. But screencaps? Fan art? Really? That’s like fumigating your house for ants when you’ve got an incontinent elephant sitting in your bedroom. You’ve not only misplaced your priorities, you’ve also exposed yourself as being a complete idiot.

THAT just posted a review of the latest Gundam episode without screenshots. Not surprisingly, it’s a whole hell of a lot less interesting without any pictures. Props to Crusader for going ahead and writing the review. But I’d imagine it felt more like writing a paper or a dissertation than it did responding to a show he supports.

So what’s this ultimately going to mean for Sunrise?

  • a.) Either no one’s going to care and Sunrise will have to decide whether they want to waste a lot of money trying to sue and prosecute shadows in the dark
  • b.) Sunrise continues to go after blogs until the anime blog community just stops writing about their shows altogether. Maybe not Gundam. But the weak sauce shows that are filling their winter roster like Akikan or Sora o Miageru Shoujo? They won’t see the light of day.

I don’t always believe in the adage that any publicity is good publicity. But in this case I do. It’s not like anime’s falling out of the trees here (in the US). You can either wait two years (or much longer) for a show to be released on DVD, or if you’re a computer noob, you can go figure out the whole codecs/bittorent/fansub scene to watch shows now. Either way, it requires patience or some effort to find what you want. So with that in mind, any free publicity studios can get, they should embrace. Because most people are not going to wait that long or put that effort in to check out a show that they haven’t scene or sampled.

For example, a 100 people might read a poor review about a show from a major blog like THAT, Random Curiosity, or Sea Slugs. And that might turn 70 or 80 of them away from watching or purchasing the show. But there’s always gonna be a small group of people who’ll watch it and like it anyway. So now, just by having that bad review, a crap show like Akikan might get 20-30 fans. What happens if there’s no review? Then 0 people learn of the show. And while no one’s going to hate the show. Sunrise isn’t going to make any money from it either.

So ultimately, they might protect their rights. But they lose a shitload of free publicity. And it’s a huge lost opportunity for an industry that hasn’t done a good job promoting and distributing its products outside of its native land. And considering the terrible shape of the world economy, if they were smart, they’d embrace as much free publicity and marketing as they can. Sales aren’t easy to come by. Especially if no one knows of your existence. Don’t make it any more difficult for yourself, Sunrise.

What would Lelouch do? He’d probably tell Sunrise to go
%$#@ themselves. And the irony is they’d do it.

4 Replies to “Sunrise getting stupid (What would Lelouch do?)”

  1. This doesn’t make any sense, Lantis is a music company, not a studio and they appear to be the ones sending the C&D letters if this is too be believed, not Sunrise who apparently just has a policy on their site? The letter even claims it’s from Lantis and makes no mention of Sunrise which would seem to indicate that they are acting on their own for some reason. Also Akikan is not a Sunrise show, it’s by Brain Base. Same with Sora O Miageru Shoujo which is produced by Kyoto Animation. The only thing they have in common is that their music is all produced by Lantis. This adds further credence to the theory that it’s a Lantis issue, not a Sunrise one. The only question is why a music company would be requesting removal of images taken from media that they don’t even technically own. Hence why it doesn’t make sense to me.

    Kaioshin Sama’s last blog post..Tales of Abyss episode 17 ~ great avalanche!

    1. Ah. Very nice catch there. I should’ve done some more vigilant fact checking. I was confusing Sora O Miageru Shoujo with Sora wo Kakeru Shoujo, which was the Sunrise show I was thinking of. You’re right, it doesn’t add up. Lantis shouldn’t have any incentive to take down materials they don’t own (not to mention that it’s probably not legal). The only thing I can think of is that maybe they have some sort of license agreement with the studios that gives them some rights to non-music IP.

  2. The only thing I can think of is maybe somebody used the image of a cover they designed for a character album and they decided they wanted to get bitchy and send out C&D letters.

    I think it’s important to note that if Lantis does somehow have far reaching legal recourse for shows they produce the music for (and if there’s any place where the law is bizarre enough to give them a company that right besides Texas then it’s Japan), then there’s a whole whack of images that would have to get taken down.

    Kaioshin Sama’s last blog post..Tales of Abyss episode 17 ~ great avalanche!

    1. I have to think that they have some implicit backing from the studios they’re working with. Sunrise’s usage policy is very restrictive, but I’m not sure what Kyoani’s or Brain Bare’s is. But if I were the studio, I wouldn’t be thrilled with Lantis sending C&D’s without at least consulting with me. Because no one’s going to remember Lantis, they’ll remember the studios.
      The other thing is, depending on what country you’re in, I don’t know how much weight a C&D based on Japanese copyright law carries. I mean, in the end, it’s a silly little thing. But if someone refused to take down screenshots, I have to imagine that it would be a tremendous hassle for Lantis, etc. to take legal action in a way that meets the Japanese, international and host country’s laws. Hopefully some common sense will prevail.

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