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Anime BitTorrent Users Reportedly Sent Notices by ISPs

posted on by Egan Loo
Warning notices match form letter for copyright infringement

An administrator for the AnimeSuki website of anime BitTorrent links reported that users received a "Notice of Claim of Copyright Infringement" from their Internet service providers late last week for distribution of anime without an announced license from a North American company. The majority of the notices (which are similar to an unrelated one archived at the Chilling Effects website) reportedly came from Comcast, a Internet service provider in the United States, on behalf of an unnamed "copyright owner, or its authorized agent" and cited America's Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Comcast has not responded to ANN's request for comment before this article was posted.

BitTorrent is a swarming peer-to-peer file-sharing protocol, or a system that lessens the burden on the first file uploader by allowing the other users to simultaneously send parts of the files as each user receives them. To allow for this decentralized sharing of data, each user's BitTorrent client program normally has a list of Internet addresses of the other users for a particular file. BitTorrent has a number of legal uses for wide distribution of files, such as software updates and open software packages. Companies such as ADV Films have used BitTorrent to distribute free trailers and other material. A lawsuit has been filed against Comcast for its reported interference of BitTorrent and other Internet traffic, contrary to its advertising of unlimited Internet connections.

According to the AnimeSuki.com post, the titles listed in the different notices include Suteki Tantei Labyrinth, Mobile Suit Gundam 00, Seto no Hanayome, Nagasarete Airantou, Shugo Chara!, and Higurashi no Naku Koro Ni Kai. Each of these programs come from a different copyright holder in Japan, but have not been announced as licensed by a North American company yet. (The status of Gundam 00's North American licensing is a gray area due to the involvement of the Bandai Namco Group, the umbrella organization of Bandai Entertainment and Bandai Visual USA.)

A French website reported that end users received an email letter sent directly from Singaporean licensor Odex regarding a French fansub of the Ouran High School Host Club anime series on a French BitTorrent site during last week also. Odex has been in the Singaporean mainstream news for attempting to obtain the identities of allegedly unauthorized anime downloaders in its own country and threatening legal action against them.

Some anime creators such as Read or Die director Koji Masunari at Anime Expo 2002 have supported, or even encouraged, fans to obtain and view anime that has not been released locally, regardless of the method, while most have yet to publicly comment on the issue. Others such as Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex scriptwriter Yoshiki Sakurai, Excel Saga director Shinichi Watanabe, Gonzo, and Media Factory have publicly requested that unauthorized distribution of their works be stopped.

The Japanese government included a request for the United States to help stop the unauthorized reproduction and distribution of Japanese animation online in its formal statement of requests on regulatory reform and competition policy on October 18. The request, one of many in a 50-page document, specifically mentioned video-sharing sites and peer-to-peer file-sharing networks.

This article has a follow-up: BayTSP Acknowledges Sending Warning Notices by Mistake (Updated) (2007-11-21 11:59)
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