Being a Fan in a Second-Rate Country: Raging About Region-Lockouts in Internet Streaming Anime

Just a couple of days ago, on YouTube’s shows list, I stumbled across MD Geist.

For those of you few readers or mine who have been around to know this OVA, or have at least listened to the Anime World Order episode where Daryl Surat talked at length of this legendarily warped and nihilistic anime, you know that this series would catch a lot of interest from curious viewers who’ve heard about it and want to see the badness for themselves.

So, as so much has been said about this anime, that I naturally clicked on the link for MD Geist.

I got a message saying that the video wasn’t available. What the fuck?

This sort of thing has been going on with YouTube for quite a while, and every time it happens it just pisses me right the fuck off. When I’d scour YouTube for music videos to watch and listen to (sure I can use iTunes, but that doesn’t carry the risk of the feeling of permenant grime from downloading an emo song and having it kept forever on my iPod) I’d repeatedly come across the same problem, where for no idiotic reason, you’d get search results for videos that are locked out of my country for some ridiculous reason, in this day and age. Hulu and MTVMusic also followed in their footsteps, barring those dirty filthy Albionians from their pure white American internet shores for no real reason apart from “copyright issues”, in some useless bid to fight internet piracy.

And of course, it’s also happened to me in that (possibly) formerly schiesty-ass like Ken Lay Schiesty McDermott website CrunchyRoll. A lot of shows that are available for streaming on CrunchyRoll, including Surat approved shows such as Fist of the North Star and Galaxy Express 999 are barred for UK viewers, for the same reasons (and lately Sasamekikoto has had this fate befall them as well, which must’ve put a dampener on Erica Friedman’s attempts to drum up support for it…). Why? Copyright issues! Same with the Funimation Channel, after a period of time when it actually allowed people from the UK to watch their content, it suddenly barred them as well, because oh no, copyright issues!

And, if my guess is correct, and it’s not some sort of coding fuck-up that happened to the site, the same thing has happened to YouTube. While shows like Baccano!, Shuffle!, Heroic Age and Darker Than Black are on YouTube and stream just fine, shows I’ve found on that one search through such as Casshern Sins and MD Geist appeared on Youtube only briefly for few seconds, but have now disappeared again. If Americans are watching MD Geist on YouTube right now, then I can only think that once again, the British anime fandom has been left out of the cold, thanks to those pesky copyright issues.

Why? British people speak English and could read subtitles about as well as any American could read them. And there are other countries out there (Australia, New Zealand, Ireland-that’s-not-part-of-the-UK) aside from the UK that speak English as a primary language. Why don’t we get to watch the same anime video streams that Americans enjoy? Why can’t we watch Fist of the North Star or Galaxy Express 999, instead of having to make do with Miracle Train or Koihime Musou?

Copyright issues?

What kind of unholy mess is keeping these shows from being brought to the British public at large? What kind of issues are keeping Funimation from showing this stuff, these shows that they show all American fans, to the wider English speaking public at large? Is it really just a matter that goes down to simply greed? The search for more money? Because that what it looks like to me, sitting at my computer, wondering why I can’t watch anime on the Funimation Channel.

And of course, there’s the torrenters and pirates. Video streaming is supposed to be the great weapon against these guys, the people who are stealing their revenue away: a service that allows them to watch anime for free, or for a cheap monthly fee, the latest anime as it’s being shown on television in Japan. But when they block out members of the English speaking public of the world from watching anime, and just letting Americans in to watch their product, they’re not really combating piracy; they’re just shifting the centre, towards the non-American English speakers who have been shut out due to those lousy “copyright issues”.

What YouTube, Funimation, and all other anime licensers hoping to stream anime in English for the masses better remember is that when they translate and release a series for internet streaming, especially on an international video site such as YouTube, is that the English speaking population of the world does not begin and end with the United States of America, or the United Kingdom, but in South Africa, India, The Philippines and Singapore, and other countries in the world. Then, and only then, can they really make streaming anime across the Internet profitable.


3 responses to “Being a Fan in a Second-Rate Country: Raging About Region-Lockouts in Internet Streaming Anime

  1. You must realize that the American companies that stream anime might not be able to afford the rights to internet broadcast in other countries. A good example of this is one Japanese IP holder forcing them to additionally buy DVD rights for that region as well making it prohibitive. Another hurtle in this is local licensors, there are companies that so get first swipe at IP in their countries.
    Most of the time it’s just not possible by profit, by expense, by law or by will.
    If you must blame someone blame the Japanese companies that lock down they’re properties by regoin.

    • That doesn’t sound very convincing to me. Funimation hardly seems to me like a company that can’t afford the rights to broadcast on the Internet outside of America. Neither does CrunchyRoll.

      And if Japanese companies wind up making it prohibitive, wouldn’t it be in the licensing companies best interests to tell these companies that they’re making a huge mistake?

  2. I’ve got the same problems with Funimation, and still they won’t respond to answer yea or nay whether they’ll restore the video feeds.

    I just did a post on it:

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