FUNimation is a producer, marketer, and distributer of anime in the United States. Since 2005 they have been sending C&D leters to fan subing sites and torrent hosts to protect their licensed properties. Back in January they upped the stakes by suing 1337 file sharers for “unlawful reproduction and distribution” of the One Piece episode #481 “Ace Rescued! Whitebeard’s Final Order!”. Considering all the legal wrangling you would get the idea that FUNimation finds pirate works to be objectionable.

Cue user “Daizo” over at the Anime News Network forums.  He was watching the second episode of Tokyopop’s reality tv show America’s Greatest Otaku.  In the episode the cast gets to visit FUNimation’s dubbing studio.  On screen you can see FUNimation staff watching this.

Now, the subtitles immediately caught my eye – text rendering like that is generally only done by VSFilter / libass for the .ass subtitle format, the de-facto standard of all illegal anime releases and which is not used on any legal digital option available for anime. So, with the help of some friends, we managed to trace the exact file seen in the show:

And what is the source? It’s the HorribleSubs release (aka a direct CR rip with HS’ own subtitle styling) of Sora no Otoshimono (Heaven’s Lost Property), season 1, episode 3, 08:42.

So, to put it shortly, FUNimation is using illegal CrunchyRoll rips for in-house work, in this case dubbing. One can only wonder why… especially considering how condemning FUNi’s attitude towards releases like these are.

Horriblesubs Work

“tempest” (ANN Publisher & CEO) summed up the 10 pages of argument that followed quite succinctly.

Let’s try to summarize what we have so far…

1) Funimation did use HS’s video/subs in that recording session
2) We do not know why, we do not know if it is regular behavior
3) Funimation is the licensee, and their license almost assuredly includes CR’s subtitle script
4) Funimation’s license and US Copyright law and USC Section 17 give Funimation the legal right to use HS’s video/subs
5) As a result of #3 & #4 Funimation’s actions (not including font) were not illegal
6) If the font in question was included as an additional file (and not hard coded), and we assume that HS does not have a license to distribute the font, Funimation may have unwittingly infringed the copyright of the font if they do not have an appropriate license for that font
7) We do not know for fact if Funimation has a license for the font

But why would Funimation use a torrent release in house when they should have had the proper legit materials available? I’m sure someone just realized they forgot to bring the legit video and found that even at the actual studio it would be faster, easier, and more convenient to just grab a torrent. 😛

While FUNimation may have the legal right to download and use the Horriblesub torrent copy of the program, I feel it’s hypocritical of them to use it. I hate folks that give the “Do as I say, not as I do” bit. You shouldn’t tell folks to not smoke while your puffing on 2 packs a day. You shouldn’t rage against Homosexuality and then meet men for sex in a airport bathroom. And you shouldn’t sue folks for downloading films off torrent sites if you’re going to patronize those sites yourself.

I’ve emailed FUNimation but had not received a response at the time of publishing.  This article will be updated when we get a response.

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