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Funimation Serves Akadot With Cease & Desist

posted on 2005-11-11 12:33 EST
Fullmetal Alchemist CDs at Issue

FUNimation Entertainment, the mass rights holders for the Fullmetal Alchemist property in North America, has sent Akadot Retail, a division of Digital Manga Inc. a cease & desist letter demanding that Akadot Retail stop selling certain Fullmetal Alchemist CDs.

In addition, Akadot claims that Funimation sent an email to Akadot's hosting company informing them that, "You will find the listed web site [Akadot] sells, distributes, promotes, and/or advertises unauthorized and/or pirated videos and/or DVDs containing copyrighted material from the Properties."

According to Akadot, the material in question are 3 Fullmetal Alchemist music CDs that they purchased from North American wholesalers/importers. Akadot representative Isaac Lew told ANN that the CDs were produced by Aniplex and legally purchased from wholesale vendors in California, prior to Funimation publicly announcing their rights to the Funimation property.

The CDs in question are the Fullmetal Alchemist Complete Best CD, Fullmetal Alchemist Original Soundtrack 2 First Limited and Fullmetal Alchemist The Movie: Conqueror of Shamballa Original Soundtrack. Akadot maintains that the CDs are originals produced or licensed by Aniplex, not bootlegs.

While claiming the right to sell the CDs, Akadot has removed them from their website.

Funimation has confirmed that they sent the cease and desist request to Akadot and that the matter was properly researched the matter before contacting Akadot. According to Funimation spokesperson Jeff Dronen, Funimation not only has the right, but also the responsibility to enforce their copyright when dealing with items that infringe on copyright and/or trademark.

When asked, Funimation declined to comment on what constitutes an illegal product. Anime News Network asked if the products sold legally in Japan, for which Funimation holds and exclusive, encompassing North American license could be imported from Japan by third parties and legally sold in the USA.

Funimation did stress that they are not interested in hurting Akadot, who is in fact a customer of Funimation. Dronen stated that it was "unfortunate" that Akadot would take the brunt of the loss for the products it purchased, but that companies were responsible for researching the legality of any products they purchase. According to Dronen, the cease & desist letter is their friendly way of informing companies that they have illegal merchandise. When it comes to companies that are intentionally flouting the law (for example pirate Internet sites), Funimation does not always provide the cease & desist warning and may immediately sue them.

Isaac Lew says that they attempted to speak directly with Funimation but, "they just ignore us and went straight to our hosting company."

ANN contacted several other stores that sell the same CDs and none of them have been contacted by Funimation at this time.

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