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Old 2011-07-19, 12:59   Link #1
SeijiSensei
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Status of Geneon titles discontinued by Funimation

As you probably know, when Geneon USA packed up its bags and departed the New World a few years back, it contracted with Funimation to distribute some of its titles. (Funimation did not become the licensor in this arrangement, just a distributor for Geneon.) That deal ended in December of last year, and there are now a number of titles that have fallen into licensing limbo. Some of these are well-known and admired shows like Black Lagoon, Saiunkoku Monogatari, Paradise Kiss, and Higurashi.

Most of these shows are now generally impossible to purchase in R1. All four titles I listed are no longer available from retailers like RightStuf, nor is there any indication from either Geneon or Funimation that many of them will ever be re-released in R1.

Other series whose R1 licenses have expired or otherwise terminated have been restored to the AS home page, Sailor Moon being a prominent example. Have you thought about whether the same policy should apply to these now-unavailable Geneon titles?
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Old 2011-07-20, 00:41   Link #2
Vexx
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Another example of what happens when properties are obstructed from passing into the public domain. (sigh)

I think GHDPro and company are discussing it... only answering just in case everyone is "out on break".
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Old 2011-07-20, 17:01   Link #3
CrowKenobi
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So far the only confirmation of titles Funimation is letting expire are Higurashi and Familiar of Zero. Both titles have been removed from the licensed list.

As for the others, I don't know their current status.
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Old 2011-07-20, 20:05   Link #4
SeijiSensei
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I'm just relying on what I observe. You can no longer purchase the R1 releases of shows like Black Lagoon or Saiunkoku Monogatari except from third parties. I did find a copy of the complete set of Paradise Kiss at BestBuy, but what they claim they have and what they actually can ship are sometimes two different things. (I bought Oh! Edo Rocket v.1 from them; they couldn't fulfill the order and cancelled it.) However I can't buy a copy of ParaKiss from RightStuf. I didn't check all the titles on the original list from RAS, but I'm guessing the results would be the same.

Right now, I'd consider these shows unlicensed in R1. Perhaps Funimation will someday cut another deal with Geneon; perhaps Geneon will find another distributor like Aniplex; or, perhaps these titles will languish in licensing limbo. We simply don't know.

I can understand the argument that Geneon is itself the licensor since it sold these properties through its now-defunct US affiliate then licensed their distribution to Funimation. Is that what you think is the status of these titles in R1? If so, then that's fine, but it would seem to apply to Higurashi and Zero no Tsukaima as well, no?

The evidence you point to is ANN's coverage of a posting by a member of Funi's acquisitions department talking specifically about low sales of Higurashi in the Higurashi forum. I'm sure you know that the decision to discontinue sales of this particular title led to widespread moaning in the anime community, so it isn't that surprising to see this guy's post. The "when-they-cry" forum had over fifty postings, compared to one in the main Saiunkoku forum. I see his posting more as a personal gesture by a Funi employee to Higurashi fans than as an official pronouncement from the company itself. I doubt we're going to hear much from Funi about anything in the days ahead since it went private once more. I certainly don't think they're going to go around confirming the fact that they no longer have a deal with Geneon, and that the titles they were distributing will no longer be available. I think it's remarkable that the only way we heard about any of this was a posting from Robert, not an official pronouncement from either Funimation or Geneon.

As it stands today, I cannot direct people to legitimate copies of these shows in postings here. I cannot direct them to fansubbed versions either. I will not direct them to illegal streaming sites, especially those that exploit the work of fansubbers. Sad, really.
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Old 2011-07-20, 21:11   Link #5
RadiantBeam
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Black Lagoon is in license limbo?

Dammit.
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Old 2011-07-20, 23:05   Link #6
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It sounds like we need some sort of standard in terms of what counts as an "abandoned license". I raised this topic once not too long ago with some of the staff when the Higurashi/ZnT situation came up.

In the case of these Geneon licenses, what seems to be the case is that Funimation was simply acting as the distributor for Geneon for a certain time period, and then once that period elapsed they would have the option (as would any licensor, I suppose) of renewing the licenses for those shows they figure are worthy of a reprint. A clear statement was made that Funimation would not be relicensing those two series in particular, hence the decision to re-list the fansubs. But as was pointed out, it's not necessarily the case that they will always announce this "discontinuation"; the reason for the statement in these cases is probably more that there were unlicensed sequel series and a small but vocal fanbase that kept asking. Other shows may just slip away quietly never to be mentioned again.

The distribution deal with Geneon is now up, so I think a good argument can be made that if the show is out of print now with no streaming opportunities or any signs/mention of any possible reprintings, the license should be considered "abandoned" or "dead". I do think we need some sort of standard way of classifying these that should include things like a definition of "unavailable" (can't be purchased new at major online retailers and difficult to acquire used?) and some sort of minimum time frame since the last release (2 years? 3 years?).

All that the current Listing Policy says about this case is as follows:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Listing Policy
If a license has expired and a title is not available for legal viewing or purchase anymore, AnimeSuki may re-list such titles as long as the fansubs are not based in any way on the legal version.
So basically we just need to define what counts as "expired" and "not available" short of official statements.
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Old 2011-07-21, 04:40   Link #7
felix
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the license should be considered "abandoned" or "dead".
"Expired/Revoked" though probably just "Expired" will do.

Quote:
I do think we need some sort of standard way of classifying these that should include things like a definition of "unavailable" (can't be purchased new at major online retailers and difficult to acquire used?)
"Unavailable" is the wrong word for it, it should be "Abandoned". Itís never going to be "Unavailable" when anyone could buy it from some else, though whatever means. When thereís no profits generated going to the studios and/or no official holder of said license for the region, itís just abandoned.

Quote:
and some sort of minimum time frame since the last release (2 years? 3 years?).
A minimum of 1 year. If itís completely been abandoned then itís expired, otherwise if there is any talk about it or the legal situation is ambiguous then the period might as well extend indefinitely. AS should not start guessing these things. It has to be proven to be expired/abandoned.
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Old 2011-08-23, 09:56   Link #8
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Originally Posted by relentlessflame View Post
All that the current Listing Policy says about this case is as follows:
So basically we just need to define what counts as "expired" and "not available" short of official statements.
That's an interesting limitation. What exactly is the moral and/or legal difference between a "real" fansub of a "still technically licensed but no longer distributed" show and a DVD-rip of the same? As far as I know (as an internet layman lawyer) there is no difference in the eyes of the law, at least.
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Old 2011-08-23, 12:05   Link #9
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Originally Posted by TheFluff View Post
That's an interesting limitation. What exactly is the moral and/or legal difference between a "real" fansub of a "still technically licensed but no longer distributed" show and a DVD-rip of the same? As far as I know (as an internet layman lawyer) there is no difference in the eyes of the law, at least.
There's certainly no legal difference, just as there's no real legal difference for any fansubs (it's all completely illegal). I think the guideline is simply "it has to be your subs", and we apply that globally. (That guideline is what basically blocks all rips and re-encodes.)

I think it's possible that an exception could be made if there were a case where the licensed DVD was no longer available, and those were the only subs for the show around (short of re-translating from scratch)... but I don't think we'll run into such a case for shows produced in the last decade, as there should be fansubs around for all of them. I heard of a case at one point where a group was taking some old no-longer-available show from LaserDisc and editing the original subs for the digital fansub. I suppose (theoretically at least) that we would probably list such a thing.


Incidentally, to the topic proper, I noticed that Funimation recently announced the license expiration for a number of additional Geneon shows.
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Old 2011-08-31, 08:04   Link #10
SeijiSensei
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CrowKenobi View Post
So far the only confirmation of titles Funimation is letting expire are Higurashi and Familiar of Zero. Both titles have been removed from the licensed list.

As for the others, I don't know their current status.
Quote:
Originally Posted by relentlessflame View Post
Incidentally, to the topic proper, I noticed that Funimation recently announced the license expiration for a number of additional Geneon shows.
I think this statement from Funimation's Sophie constitutes official confirmation that these licenses have expired:

Quote:
Our license has expired on the below list of rescued Geneon shows, and the product sell-off period has ended. As far as I know there are no plans to re-acquire these titles. The show pages and all content are no longer available for the below list of shows on this site.

* Paradise Kiss
* Kamichu
* Kyo Kara Maoh
* The Story of Saiunkoku
* The Law of Ueki
* When They Cry
Might I nominate these shows as potential candidates for restoration to the main AS list?

We also have this reported comment from Sophie about two other titles:

Quote:
After consulting Sophie on FUNimation's forums about Hellsing Ultimate and Black Lagoon, she confirmed to me that they still have the licenses to both properties and do intend to re-release them, "but not for a while."
I'd guess we'll see Black Lagoon again when the OVA is released.

From what I've read, a lot of this mess is a consequence of the merger of Universal Japan and Geneon. Some titles apparently need relicensing since they are now owned by the merged entity.
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Old 2011-08-31, 17:56   Link #11
Vexx
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Guess I'd better put my Kamichu! in the Nuclear Resistant Deep Safe.

This just pisses me off from a cultural perspective. A lot of Hollywood films I grew up with are no longer available *anywhere* because they didn't put them in the public domain and they didn't take care of the masters or copies or anything.

Note to self: buy some hard drives and rip all my DVD library to them for defensive purposes and maintenance of things no longer available.
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Old 2013-07-21, 07:27   Link #12
SeijiSensei
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I am resuscitating this thread in the light of VIZ's having lost the license to Monster recently. I suspect we'll see more properties fall out of licensing in the years ahead. Have you all given any more thought on relisting series with expired licenses? As an example, I notice that season one of Saiunkoku Monogatari still has not been restored to the list of series on the main page.
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Old 2013-07-21, 13:57   Link #13
kokoroanime
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SeijiSensei View Post
I am resuscitating this thread in the light of VIZ's having lost the license to Monster recently. I suspect we'll see more properties fall out of licensing in the years ahead. Have you all given any more thought on relisting series with expired licenses? As an example, I notice that season one of Saiunkoku Monogatari still has not been restored to the list of series on the main page.
So as the other five series are yet to be relisted since the DVD are rare to find.
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Old 2013-07-21, 14:40   Link #14
Solace
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Originally Posted by SeijiSensei View Post
Have you all given any more thought on relisting series with expired licenses?
To be honest, not really. The main site traffic has plummeted over the years, mainly due to streaming (licensed and otherwise), and other torrent databases that list everything with no concern to license status. The forum still has steadily growing traffic, but the torrent section of our site isn't looking very pleasant.

I do agree with you that we're reaching a point of slow decline in licensing, compared to the boom at least. I expect a lot of older series to lapse, particularly the more obscure ones. But I'm not convinced we should bother with listing or re-listing them, personally. Other staff might disagree with me, but personally I believe the main site's purpose ceased to be relevant years ago. If we do decide to revamp it, I'd rather see it oriented more toward being a better portal for the forums. It's a good opportunity to improve the social aspects of the site: advertising social groups, community blogs, series announcements, thread highlights, and stuff like that.

Besides, moving away from the legal hassles of downloads offers opportunities that we're otherwise unable to benefit from currently.
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Old 2013-07-21, 16:03   Link #15
SeijiSensei
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Even if you don't relist the shows, what about referring to them in forum postings? I'm careful not to link to licensed content, or unlicensed content on sites that also distribute licensed materials. Since Monster can no longer be viewed on Hulu, I would like to link to a torrent, probably one at Nyaa. I'd like to do the same for a few other series like Saiunkoku that I recommend from time to time. Can we agree that linking to a series whose license has expired does not violate Forum Rule 1.1? I take it I can only link to fansub torrents of the original release, not any fansubbed versions that are based on DVD or BD rips.

What about Nyaa itself? I see torrents listed on the main series page that link to Nyaa, so I've assumed you all are okay with that as opposed to a certain "crazy" site that has a lot of licensed shows.
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Old 2013-07-22, 03:21   Link #16
Solace
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SeijiSensei View Post
Even if you don't relist the shows, what about referring to them in forum postings? I'm careful not to link to licensed content, or unlicensed content on sites that also distribute licensed materials. Since Monster can no longer be viewed on Hulu, I would like to link to a torrent, probably one at Nyaa. I'd like to do the same for a few other series like Saiunkoku that I recommend from time to time. Can we agree that linking to a series whose license has expired does not violate Forum Rule 1.1? I take it I can only link to fansub torrents of the original release, not any fansubbed versions that are based on DVD or BD rips.

What about Nyaa itself? I see torrents listed on the main series page that link to Nyaa, so I've assumed you all are okay with that as opposed to a certain "crazy" site that has a lot of licensed shows.
That's that moral gray area, legal hassle part. In the past, we've basically taken a more low key approach. It stays low key, we pretend it doesn't exist.

But given that Viz never finished releasing Monster in the first place, and has now lost the license, it does make for an interesting twist on the rules. We can't point to a completed release and say "yeah, it's not licensed anymore, but you can still get it", because that's not true. So the only way to watch all of it, for all of these years, has been illegal streams/torrents.

In this case Nyaa is fine, for now. Just bear in mind that we always reserve the right to get a mood swing and turn cranky.
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Old 2013-12-23, 03:04   Link #17
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Zero no Tsukaima is licensed again.
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