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Gonzo Halts Romeo×Juliet Fansub with FUNimation's Help

posted on by Egan Loo
FUNimation confirms it has not licensed R×J, but will act for Gonzo on new titles

The unofficial anime subtitling group Shinsen-Subs reported that it had received a letter Thursday which requested that Shinsen-Subs cease and desist its subtitling of Romeo × Juliet, an anime series by the Japanese studio Gonzo. The distribution company FUNimation Entertainment sent the letter on behalf of Gonzo. Shinsen-Subs stated it has "already complied to the requests in the letter, and this project is hereby dropped."

FUNimation has confirmed that it did send the letter on behalf of Gonzo and that the series has not yet been licensed to a distributor in North America. In a statement to ANN, FUNimation said, "…[I]t is important to note that the rights owned by Japanese producers are still applicable, and enforceable, worldwide even before the anime is licensed for local distribution."

In a situation similar to Gonzo's, the Japanese anime distributor Media Factory's law firm requested that several websites and subtitling groups stop the unauthorized distribution of Media Factory's titles in December of 2004. The titles included ones which did not have a local distributor in North America at the time. Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex scriptwriter Yoshiki Sakurai asked American fans to buy anime, instead of downloading without authorization, in a December 2002 post on the Production I.G forum. At the time, the Stand Alone Complex series was still running in Japan, and had been effectively licensed but not yet released by Bandai Entertainment and Manga Entertainment in North America.

FUNimation's statement added, "FUNimation Entertainment, along with others in the industry both in Japan and North America, have long understood that unauthorized distribution of anime, especially prior to localization, is very harmful to Japanese producers because it lowers the value of the anime on the worldwide market. For this reason, Japanese producers are highly motivated to stop unauthorized distribution. We believe there will be a strong trend toward these types of anti-infringement actions being taken more regularly and systematically."

In regards to a possible license of the Romeo × Juliet anime re-imagining of William Shakespeare's romantic play, FUNimation said, "…[O]f course it is a fine show, and we would very much like to distribute it" in the United States.

FUNimation concluded, "As part of the longstanding relationship between FUNimation and Gonzo, we have been asked to monitor and take action against unauthorized distribution of all Gonzo's current new titles. Because we believe that this will benefit FUNimation, and the industry in general, we have agreed to do so."

Thank you to Zalis116 for the news tip.

Image © 2007 Gonzo/CBC, GDH, SPWT

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