Kickstarter Suspends Anime Tube Crowdfunding Campaign (Updated)
posted on by Crystalyn Hodgkins
ANN reached out to Kickstarter, who confirmed it suspended the campaign and stated the company was "alerted to some possible violations of [its] rules regarding the accuracy of materials represented on the project page and elsewhere." Kickstarter told ANN, "All suspensions are final and cannot be reversed." The company also stated that since the Kickstarter campaign was suspended before the end date, backers have not been charged.
Anime Tube made a statement on its Facebook page on Friday, stating, "We are aware the campaign has been suspended. We have two days to address the issue, which we are actively working on to resolve swiftly."
Anime Tube founder George Weller told ANN that Kickstarter's response to Anime Tube about the suspension "was very unspecific and unclear." Anime Tube stated it has asked Kickstarter for clarification, and is currently waiting on Kickstarter's response.
Anime Tube's Twitter account is currently disabled as of press time. Weller told ANN that Anime Tube disabled its Twitter account "due to personal attacks, false accusations, threats, slander, and defamation (not based on facts) to protect family members from further mental diress [sic]" that Weller said was "Due to an industry professional calling [its] campaign a 'scam'."
Weller stated to ANN that its campaign was "not a scam." He added Anime Tube had "been developing [its] new multi-platform app before the campaign started" and would "continue to develop it afterwards whether or not [the] campaign is reinstated." Weller added, "We have been in the process of acquiring licensing, in contact with over a dozen well known Japanese production companies to seek licensing, but the process is slow. We are working on acquiring licensing in the way we believe is the right way according to our contacts in Japan."
Weller also referenced the U.S. Justice Department's ongoing antitrust review of Sony's proposed US$1.175 billion acquisition of Crunchyroll from AT&T, stating to ANN: "There exists a possible monopoly ... and it is incredibly challenging for small companies to enter the marketplace. In addition, licensing is extremely complicated especially for international distribution. It is extremely difficult to enter the marketplace as a small business, but we are doing our best to provide what we believe is the solution to the issues with the anime marketplace." Weller also stated he believes "Subscription based business models will cause piracy to increase," and Anime Tube believes advertising video-on-demand (AVOD) "is the best business model for the industry to stop the proliferation of anime piracy."
Anime Tube launched its Kickstarter campaign on July 6, which had earned US$101,075 of its US$50,000 goal from 938 backers before Kickstarter suspended the campaign. The campaign had earned as much as US$110,000 at one point before the suspension.
After the Kickstarter campaign launched, various industry professionals criticized the campaign, calling its promises unrealistic.
At the time of launch, the Kickstarter included a link to a list of titles that Anime Tube claimed were currently "in discussion" for licenses. The list included hundreds of titles that are already licensed by other distributors for the U.S. streaming market. The list of titles was later removed from the Kickstarter campaign.
The campaign was also criticized for using images of anime titles that it has not yet licensed for promotional purposes, including Sword Art Online, Fullmetal Alchemist, Attack on Titan, and Death Note. The images were since removed from the Kickstarter page.
Weller stated to ANN last week, "We are in discussions with Japanese anime production companies to license anime for streaming rights and in order to be transparent, our intent was to let our backers know which anime we are trying to license. We provided a list of titles we were in discussions with Japanese anime companies to license for streaming. We contacted the Japanese anime companies who produced the anime to determine what we can license and who to contact."
Anime Tube held an earlier Kickstarter campaign in June. It raised approximately US$63,000 in pledges, but failed to reach its goal of US$285,000. Currently, Kickstarter states this earlier campaign "is the subject of an intellectual property dispute and is currently unavailable."
Game Face, LLC in Austin, Texas ran the campaign. The company describes itself as "a mobile applications development studio with over 10 years of mobile application development experience. We've produced over a dozen mobile applications on the Windows 10 and Xbox One platforms with an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars." Game Face's official website lists "SoundHead" as one of its previous apps.
Update: Anime Tube's Facebook account posted a link to a press release from Weller on Tuesday giving more comment on the situation. The press release addresses several comments from industry professionals that ANN included in our article posted on July 8.
this article has been modified since it was originally posted; see change history