We know that this is a tense time for all of us, hearing about the revival of Sailor Moon in other countries and listening as the rumor mill churns out endless slivers of hope.
We'd like to take a moment to talk about the current wave of rumors surrounding the takedown notices of various Sailor Moon related videos on youtube. However, in order to completely understand the situation we first need to understand how Toei Animation is organized.
The parent company in Japan is Toei Animation Co. LTD. This portion of the company, under that name, manages their properties primarily in Japan. There are also branches that operate in different regions of the world and manage the properties in those regions. In North America, the branch is located in California and is named Toei Animation Inc. A subtle, but important difference. This is the branch to watch for with regard to licensing deals in the US and Canada (along with most other English speaking countries). While Toei Animation Co. LTD. could be cited in press releases announcing licenses and other business ventured, they are not the ones actually dealing with the business deals for North American licenses.
All of the takedown notices that people have shown us have specifically come from Toei Animation Co. LTD. This means that this is the Japanese branch issuing the notice. And while they oversee the other branches, they won't have a direct hand in any licensing deals in the English market. Therefore, we hope the fans don't take this as any hint of a license for North America, because it really isn't. It is just a case of a company enforcing their copyrights.
It is very likely that these videos were found by matching video or audio segments from the anime. Such methods are popular because they can be automated, and the scripts that perform this tedious work can't distinguish parody from blatant copying. The same thing happens in every genre of entertainment on youtube. Videos stay up for long periods of time and suddenly disappear because they happen to have been found at last. DVDs are finally being re-released in Japan after a very long time, so Toei Animation has stepped up their game to get episodes removed in a bid to encourage fans to purchase the episodes either on DVD or through their Anime BB service.
Everyone also has to realize that Sailor Moon also has an image to be kept up. Toei Animation will be on the lookout for content utilizing Sailor Moon (as they will with all of their properties) that in their opinion doesn't portray it in the light that they would like it to be. While a video parody may be intended to mock the series humorously from the uploader's perspective, it may not be seen that way from the original copyright holder's perspective. If something happens to fit this bill, it will be targeted. And while parodies are legal, their legality falls within certain bounds. If Toei Animation (or any other company with any other property) doesn't approve of some use of their property, they can and will fight for their rights just as anyone else will. We suspect that this may be a second reason for at least some of the takedowns.
While hearing this may dismay some fans, we would encourage you to be careful with any use of Sailor Moon images, videos and audio clips until the end of the revival. And definitely, definitely do not try to profit from directly related Sailor Moon content, or you will be a sure-fire target. And once again, do not believe everything you hear without a press release (if we had a nickel for every time we have heard this from the companies involved when approaching them to confirm or deny a new rumor, we'd be rich). Let's show all the companies involved that the Sailor Moon fandom is mature and responsible and that we deserve our heroine back!
Monday, November 08, 2010