Vu Nguyen - Page 3

by Zac Bertschy, Mar 25th 2008
You restricted access to the hi-res feeds. You couldn't watch the hi-res feeds without paying $6 to the site. Since your venture capital announcement, that system is now gone, but for more than a year I could pay you $6 to watch a hi-res version of End of Evangelion, even though it's been available on DVD in the US since 2002.

I can't comment directly on that.

YouTube says it is shielded from copyright litigation because it is considered a third-party "online service provider" under America's Digital Millennium Copyright Act. A company that falls under this category is protected, even if its users are sued for copyright violations. However, Crunchyroll has hosted — and it still hosting — fansubs that are credited to the "CR Fansubs Team." What is the relationship between Crunchyroll and the CR – meaning Crunchyroll - Fansubs Team?

We're not affiliated. CR Fansubs Team is a group of fansubbers that started within our community but we have no say in what they do.

You weren't able to tell them “please don't use our name”, given that it would appear to identify them as an official part of your team?

That's a good point. It's just something where we've always wanted to support our community. I guess that's something that didn't quite occur to us.

Recently you removed the two most popular series on your site, Naruto and Bleach. Those series have been licensed for years now, and yet Crunchyroll continued to host them – and charge people for the privilege of watching the hi-res versions – in 2007 and for the first few months of this year. In your forums, there are pages and pages of people complaining – many suggesting that you will lose a big chunk of your userbase as a result of removing those titles. Do you think there's any truth to that?

Regardless of the situation, we always comply with any takedown requests.

Are you concerned that if your userbase does shrink dramatically after removing the two most popular series, that your site will appear less attractive to other investors or Japanese companies looking to host video there?

I can't comment on that.

When did you start attracting interest from venture capital companies?

Mid to late 2007.

And that was based on your traffic and your Alexa rating?

I believe so, yes.

Did they know what your business model was when they decided to invest?

I can't comment on that.

Why did you continue soliciting donations two weeks after receiving venture capital funding?

The truth is that it was always our intention to take it down after receiving the funding – and we took down ads pretty quickly – but the other part was that we were running a site with so many moving parts, it's been a lot of work and every action has a rippling effect. We've been going nonstop without sleep for months now. As you saw when we removed donations, there was a bit of backlash from the users. So it was a matter of doing it properly before… you guys called us out on it. We needed a way to do it without upsetting people within our community. But the way events unfolded, we just decided to yank it and as you saw there was a backlash from the users.

So after you received the venture capital funding, you left the donation system up in order to not upset the community?

There was a plan in place to phase it out. We just didn't get around to it as things kinda happened.

What is the new funding being used for?

It helps support the bandwidth cost and maintenance costs, and also to help expand our team.

Expanding your team. So now that you have a full-time team, your full-time team is supported by that money? Do you receive a paycheck from Crunchyroll?

Yes.

So your site, which has in the past and to this day maintains, regardless of your current plans, a focus on driving traffic by offering illegal streams of user-submitted – not user-created, mind you - fansubs, including many titles which are available on DVD in the US… you get a paycheck from that site?

I can't comment directly on that, but the money is being used partially to support the team. I can say I took a pay cut from my previous job. I don't think I can say anything else about that.
What can you tell us about your partnership with Gonzo. Did Gonzo approach you or did you approach them?

I can't comment on that, sorry.

Which Gonzo titles do you currently plan on streaming?


The Tower of Druaga series and Blassreiter.

Are any of those exclusive to Crunchyroll?

No.

So you guys are hosting these series as part of Gonzo's plan, but your site is not the focus of it.

That's fair to say.

In the future, do you have any plans to host one or more series – using the proper legal channels and sanctioned by the production company - exclusively? Meaning the only place to see it would be Crunchyroll?

I don't think it's our intention to have exclusives. There are so many alternatives out there that maintaining an exclusive wouldn't change the landscape.

Is there anything more you can tell us about your partnership with Gonzo?

One thing that we will be offering in conjunction with Gonzo that we put together is a non-DRM download system. The model is very interesting to the industry, because it will be different. Hopefully it will also be available to users on the same day it airs in Japan. That also competes with other alternatives out there.

Will you be the only site offering non-DRM downloads of these Gonzo shows?

I don't know, actually. But I can say the model we're trying is unique to us. Unfortunately I can't give you too many details about it yet.

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