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All About Licensing Part II: The Contract


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Cecilthedarkknight_234



Joined: 02 Apr 2011
Posts: 3559
Location: Louisville, KY

PostPosted: Wed Jun 13, 2012 1:15 pm Reply with quote
I say this to people that work out licensing deals for anime, visual novels, manga and other forms of our media we like, you guys deserve a huge pat on the back for dealing with paper-work nightmare. I have dived down into this subject online for the past two years alone, have a better grasp on how it works now however it still gives me headache to think of all the work that needs to be done to bring over the media we like to consume.
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samuelp



Joined: 25 Nov 2007
Posts: 1615
Location: Tokyo, Japan

PostPosted: Wed Jun 13, 2012 1:15 pm Reply with quote
One of the things found in more and more contracts is a clause that defines under which jurisdiction and laws any lawsuits or claims will be ruled under.

Japanese companies always insist on Japan and US always insist on US, so that can be a point of contention lately.

It's precisely to protect the party from suing you since they would have to sue you on your own "home turf". See for example the recent 4kids TV Tokyo spat... If that had been tried in Japan the outcome would have been far different.
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yuna49



Joined: 27 Aug 2008
Posts: 1564

PostPosted: Wed Jun 13, 2012 1:28 pm Reply with quote
Justin's point about bankruptcy clauses made me wonder whether they played a role in ADV's reorganization. ADV basically sold its licenses to its successor firms. Justin's comments suggest that if ADV had gone the usual Chapter 11 route, all those licenses would have been revoked.

Do the contracts typically grant the Japanese licensors any control over how the R1 distributors can dispose of a license should they choose to do so? It would certainly limit the value of licenses as assets if they can't be exchanged in the R1 market without prior approval from the Japanese licensor.

Sam, do you have any insights into how those jurisdictional disputes are typically resolved? Is it more common for licenses to be under Japanese or American jurisdiction, or are the contracts too idiosyncratic to make broader generalizations?
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PurpleWarrior13



Joined: 05 Sep 2009
Posts: 1454

PostPosted: Wed Jun 13, 2012 2:07 pm Reply with quote
If a company goes out of business, and sell all or most of their assets to another company (such as anime licenses), would the Japanese licensor(s) have to approve of all them?
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configspace



Joined: 16 Aug 2008
Posts: 3151

PostPosted: Wed Jun 13, 2012 2:18 pm Reply with quote
About the extra features that come with the Japanese version and their lack in the US sometimes, I assume:
Quote:
They might cost extra

is the primary reason. Been disappointed by some that I think are significant. I don't mean interviews or commentary, but bonus animated features.

Also I wonder about approvals for translations, if any. Because there have been some pretty big differences. I hate the direction taken now by some CR/Sentai/Funi translations, essentially reverting back to the early days, with dropping honorifics and US name order (very jarring to hear a different name used than the one shown on screen) for example. And heavy, liberal, if not awkward localization. I mean okonomiyaki = pancakes ?! Compare this to samuelp's awesome translation effort, very very different
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Mohawk52



Joined: 16 Oct 2003
Posts: 7591
Location: England, UK

PostPosted: Wed Jun 13, 2012 2:29 pm Reply with quote
Quote:
Next time, we'll take a look at what happens when people ignore the contracts, and things go entirely out of control.
Or we can just skip that and crack open a few whilst watching the FUNi v ADV game. Wink
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samuelp



Joined: 25 Nov 2007
Posts: 1615
Location: Tokyo, Japan

PostPosted: Wed Jun 13, 2012 2:30 pm Reply with quote
configspace wrote:
About the extra features that come with the Japanese version and their lack in the US sometimes, I assume:
Quote:
They might cost extra

is the primary reason. Been disappointed by some that I think are significant. I don't mean interviews or commentary, but bonus animated features.

Also I wonder about approvals for translations, if any. Because there have been some pretty big differences. I hate the direction taken now by some CR/Sentai/Funi translations, essentially reverting back to the early days, with dropping honorifics and US name order (very jarring to hear a different name used than the one shown on screen) for example. And heavy, liberal, if not awkward localization. I mean okonomiyaki = pancakes ?! Compare this to samuelp's awesome translation effort, very very different

One of the dangers of being a "professional" translator is to get in your own bubble and not take criticism and pay attention to the audience.
It's always a balancing act, but okonomiyaki are not pancakes.
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samuelp



Joined: 25 Nov 2007
Posts: 1615
Location: Tokyo, Japan

PostPosted: Wed Jun 13, 2012 2:33 pm Reply with quote
yuna49 wrote:
Sam, do you have any insights into how those jurisdictional disputes are typically resolved? Is it more common for licenses to be under Japanese or American jurisdiction, or are the contracts too idiosyncratic to make broader generalizations?

Usually it's resolved that it's in Japan, and that clause ends up being moot and the things are tried in the US anyway because that's the court where the lawsuit is filed. If the lawsuit is over breach of contract anyway might as well go ahead and try the thing in the US... If you win you win and what the contract said was moot...

I'm not sure these clauses have any real binding power, as jurisdiction is a matter of law, not something that can be decided by contract.
Similar to the arbitration clause, it doesn't really prevent people from suing each other, it just is a deterrent and makes it harder.
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jsevakis
ANN Director of New Media


Joined: 28 Jul 2003
Posts: 1559
Location: Los Angeles, CA

PostPosted: Wed Jun 13, 2012 2:41 pm Reply with quote
samuelp wrote:
One of the things found in more and more contracts is a clause that defines under which jurisdiction and laws any lawsuits or claims will be ruled under.


Actually that's always been boilerplate, just, nobody cared until recent lawsuits. Very Happy

yuna49 wrote:
Do the contracts typically grant the Japanese licensors any control over how the R1 distributors can dispose of a license should they choose to do so? It would certainly limit the value of licenses as assets if they can't be exchanged in the R1 market without prior approval from the Japanese licensor.


Contracts used to allow them to assign and sub-license the rights till the end of time, but now that provision usually has been removed entirely, or is subject to licensor approval on a case-by-case basis.
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cjovalle



Joined: 17 Feb 2004
Posts: 31

PostPosted: Wed Jun 13, 2012 2:47 pm Reply with quote
I might be thinking of a different line than is referred to in the article, but for a lot of situations the copyright line isn't *entirely* symbolic, especially when it comes to international distribution. While copyright protection exists upon creation, and doesn't require formalities such as registration or symbol, domestic copyright law is what usually applies (under the terms of international treaty). The one exception I'm aware of is for purposes of determining authorship, and that's where you're most likely to have potentially significant differences between countries that probably need to be hashed out by contract. (This is especially true with work-for-hire, which can be very very different from place to place.)
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LUNI_TUNZ



Joined: 28 Apr 2010
Posts: 709

PostPosted: Wed Jun 13, 2012 3:01 pm Reply with quote
Quote:
Accusations abound, from intentionally delaying materials, to intentionally adding video problems to the masters, to just never sending anything at all.


I wonder if something like this happened back when Funi had that issue with the Birdy (I think it was that show) masters.
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BasouKazuma



Joined: 11 Mar 2008
Posts: 14

PostPosted: Wed Jun 13, 2012 3:06 pm Reply with quote
samuelp wrote:

It's always a balancing act, but okonomiyaki are not pancakes.


According to Wikipedia (the definitive source of all knowledge), they are pancakes, just not the American style pancakes. I've had Korean pancakes and they are nothing like American pancakes either.
http://en.wikipedia.org/​wiki/​Okonomiyaki

But I do not know Japanese or have had Okonomiyaki, that I recall.

/tangent
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Mohawk52



Joined: 16 Oct 2003
Posts: 7591
Location: England, UK

PostPosted: Wed Jun 13, 2012 3:17 pm Reply with quote
Honestly this inbred paranoia about reverse importation needs clinical treatment. All Japan has to to do is slap a hefty import tariff on anything looking like a reverse imported physical media making the cost to the importer higher than what it would cost to buy it there and job done. It's incomprehensible that no one there has come up with such a simple solution yet. Rolling Eyes
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LUNI_TUNZ



Joined: 28 Apr 2010
Posts: 709

PostPosted: Wed Jun 13, 2012 3:41 pm Reply with quote
Mohawk52 wrote:
Honestly this inbred paranoia about reverse importation needs clinical treatment. All Japan has to to do is slap a hefty import tariff on anything looking like a reverse imported physical media making the cost to the importer higher than what it would cost to buy it there and job done. It's incomprehensible that no one there has come up with such a simple solution yet. Rolling Eyes


Yeah, they can just walk on down to congress and have a tariff bill passed in a day or two.

So simple.
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walw6pK4Alo



Joined: 12 Mar 2008
Posts: 8728

PostPosted: Wed Jun 13, 2012 3:45 pm Reply with quote
Mohawk52 wrote:
Honestly this inbred paranoia about reverse importation needs clinical treatment. All Japan has to to do is slap a hefty import tariff on anything looking like a reverse imported physical media making the cost to the importer higher than what it would cost to buy it there and job done. It's incomprehensible that no one there has come up with such a simple solution yet. Rolling Eyes


I don't think you can make a $49.99 BD boxset cost more than a $199.99 one (cheap price, by the way) with just some tariffs. That type of trade imbalance would just be...insane. I mean, look at Japanese prices per disc, for 2-3 episodes, it's about 7000-8500 yen, compared to our 50-60 dollar boxsets for 12-14 episodes. The prices are just so incomparable that I have no idea why reverse importation is only a fear and not a real abundantly common practice among otaku. The only reasons that come up as to why otaku aren't choosing to buy North American releases are:

1. Loyalty to Glorious Nippon. Don't underestimate the Japanese pride they have for their country and their economy. Nationalism and xenophobia are high among otaku, they're often not the nicest and accepting people; howaito piggu go homu, there boards for our people, american no good, etc.
2. Knowing that the money they put in has a much greater and direct effect on the production of things they like. When we buy R1 products, it's to pay back even more middle men than normal.
3. Physical bonuses and image quality. Even if the image quality is basically the same, placebo and perceived expectations will make you believe the American product is worse.
4. American releases obviously take much much longer to come out, even fast releases are still about 9-12 months. Gundam Unicorn is an outlier, because the OVA/movie model is obviously different from television and easier to coordinate a simultaneously release for a highly sought after product.

Reverse importation is real though, or at least through Japanese downloading American products. It killed hentai licensing, but that is a special case: having uncensored images negates those 4 previous points entirely, and that's on top of being about a fourth of the initial price (~7000 yen). Even the purposefully budget (subsidized by massive eroge sales I surmise) hentai releases by Pixy are still 3000 yen, for a single no frills censored episode. I think only one German company is giving us releases now, and their video quality is atrocious. I'd like to know more about why hentai licensing is dead, but ANN obviously doesn't care, neither does anyone else, and all we go on is hearsay about Pink Pineapple's decisions and such.
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