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Largest US Anime Distributor Goes BitTorrent 145

securitas writes "The New York Times' Charles Solomon reports that 'ADV Films, the largest distributor of anime in the United States is releasing promotional packages via the BitTorrent.' The use of BitTorrent is already extremely popular among anime fans who trade films that are unavailable outside of Japan as well as their own subtitled versions, known as fansubs. The company's first experiment with a Madlax torrent in July was so well-received that ADV is launching the bonus promotional packages for upcoming releases Gilgamesh and Goddanar. The question is will other distributors and studios follow ADV's example or stick to their current distribution models?"
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Largest US Anime Distributor Goes BitTorrent

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  • by Zelucifer ( 740431 ) on Sunday August 21, 2005 @09:29AM (#13366150)
    So am I the only one annoyed by the extremely negative connotations used by the "reporter"? Apparently World of Warcraft's use of bit torrent was illegal, or just plain unknown! Or perhaps those who distribute anime truly are the bane of good.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      The "reporter" is still under the assumption that copyright enfringement is "theft", and thus all fansubbers must be raping, pillaging pirates who go around killing the American Dream. Even though more than half the series that come out through BitTorrent download sites by "illegitimate" fansubbers are never, ever picked up by American distributors, because they aren't "popular" enough or may have "anti-American" values, or cant be twisted into an American cartoon through careful photoshopping and editing -
    • by Tx ( 96709 )
      So am I the only one annoyed by the extremely negative connotations used by the "reporter"? Apparently World of Warcraft's use of bit torrent was illegal, or just plain unknown! Or perhaps those who distribute anime truly are the bane of good.

      Probably. I mean, well done, you managed to think of one example of BT being used for a legal purpose, and if pressed you could probably think of a few more. But the vast majority of BT traffic is pirated content, and the reporters tone is pretty justified. I'm a fan o
      • Are you on crack?

        Every large media download seems to have a BT link.

        Trailers, demos, patches, linux releases....

        Just keep painting the world red, but in the end it doesn't matter because no protocol is capable of doing misdeeds on its own.

        So instead of believing in the misdirection why don't you just say there are sites offering illegitimate copies of software and media. Granted, that would make your comment off topic, but in full scope of things it already is.

        There is little reason to blame bit torrent for
        • There is little reason to blame bit torrent for wrong or right... it's a senseless accussation. Next, were going to blame http servers and ftp servers for serving illegal content.

          Who's talking about blame? The author of the article reflected the impression in the mainstream media that bittorrent is very widely used for distribution of pirated content. I pointed out to the OP that the article's author is quite correct about that, and shouldn't be criticised for displaying that opinion. I made no statement a
      • More useful things that should be banned for a "majority infringing use:"
        1. IRC DCC Bots
        2. FTP servers
        3. Usenet newsgroups
        4. AIM filesharing

        Opponents of BT must first recognize that any technology suitable for the legitimate uses will be suitable for some illlegitimate uses. As far as I can tell, software cannot be moral or immoral, good or evil, or right or wrong. Only the people who use it and what they accomplish with it.
        • You're absolutely right. Software isn't inherently good or bad; it's simply a tool that can be used for different purposes. So, grandparent poster, I take it that in order to restore order, we'd better also ban: * Phone lines (POTS, that is) * Cell phones * Fax machines * Postal services * Roads All these can be used to distribute "pirated" material. Oh no!
  • Its about time some major players start utilising this technology.

    I hope the RIAA takes notice.
    • Takes notice all the way to pressuring other industries out of intelligent moves like this one. The RIAA, and groups like it are far from done trying to squeeze P2P until they can have arrested every 12-year-old who has ever traded an MP3.

      Oh, they'll take notice alright.
      • The anime industry need to give me something worth my time and effort first. Last great anime IMHO is still "Ninja Scroll" and "Battle Angel". Everything else since has been disappointment, which covers the past few years. Yes, disappointment includes the highly overrated "Cowboy Bebop".

        • Uhm...

          Here's a list of Stuff That Doesn't Suck (TM)
          Neon Genesis Evangelion (some won't get it, but it's still massively awesome)
          Tokyo Godfathers
          Serial Experiment Lain
          Jin-Roh The Wolf Brigade
          Perfect Blue
          Spring and Chaos
          Macross Plus
          Paranoia Agent

          Now these are all very different, but I'm sure you'll be able to find at least something you'll like in there. On the other hand I also like Bebop, even though it's not among my favourite series, so ...
          • Macross Plus was good, but it wasn't "great".

            Neon Genesis Evangelion was just too dragged out for me.

            I did see Lain and I seriously think I will enjoy it 10 years later, just not now. It seems way ahead of its time.

    • Why is everybody so excited about using Bittorrent as a means for a commercial enterprise to distribute media?

      I mean why would anyone want to have to install and setup another piece of software, load it up, and then share your bandwidth in the hopes that everyone else is doing the same so that your download can be a little faster?

      I don't know about you but I would definitely prefer that the damn company increase their download bandwidth so that they can support thousands of users direct-downloading thei

      • Either they shift the cost/burden to you, or they... shift the cost/burden to you. You'd either have BitTorrent, or you'd have slow downloads and/or higher prices.

        For most people, using up the background bandwidth is a less painful proposition than paying more or getting less.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Due to the overwhelming number of dupes [], Slashdot is going to offer torrents so more people can access them.
  • What bittorrent really needs is proper browser integration. Only when using bittorrent is equally easy as just clicking a web link (i.e., no external programs, configuration etc., just the IE/firefox download window) it will be massively used. When you need azureus/bittornado or anything else, the public will remain small.
  • Hmm? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Agret ( 752467 ) <alias.zero2097@gma i l .com> on Sunday August 21, 2005 @09:30AM (#13366156) Homepage Journal
    The question is will other distributors and studios follow ADV's example or stick to their current distribution models?

    Well it's not really a distribution model. They are just releasing promo material. You can already get promo material from most distributors just not over BitTorrent. This is really nothing new.
    • The difference is that, without BitTorrent or its ilk, distributors have to pay for the bandwidth to send those files to the people who want them, and if that material gets popular those servers are going to get expensive, or badly crowded, or both. The question is how much of a boost over the bottom line BitTorrent gives them. Considering the size of some of these promos, I wouldn't be surprised if it's significant.
  • I really wish the pr0n industry would take notice and give me downloads over the internet.

    Oh wait....

  • Via the bittorrent?

    It's a protocol, not a network like kazaa/eMule/eDonkey...

    (Yes I know eMule/eDonkey uses specific servers to connect to, but with the UDP search technology you can search a lot of servers together, if they support it.)
    • eMule is just a client, and the network is called eDonkey2000 (mind the correct name) or just ed2k. There's a client called eDonkey2000 too, but I don't think people use it nowadays.
    • Via the bittorrent?

      Not everybody is born in anglophone territory. Other languages have different rules on when definite articles are used, and mistakes may spill over into a fellow's use of English as a second or foreign language.

      with the UDP search technology you can search a lot of servers together, if they support it.

      It's too bad that the Azureus protocol and the BitTorrent protocol for the newer distributed features are mutually incompatible.

    • Yeah, you know, like the e-mail. Don't tell me you're not on the e-mail.

      I hear you can even send the mp3's through the e-mail these days.

  • That seems to be the point: using BitTorrent to distribute free(as in beer) content. BitTorrent is able to distribute identical files among many users fast (and scales well even with HUGE user bases).
    But companies need to make money. And anime distributors need to sell videos. But BitTorrent is a rather open system. You can use a tracker with authentication, but that won't work with things like the dynamic tracker protocoll and so an developing. You'll have to secure the actual content. How can that be ma
    • BitTorrent is able to distribute identical files among many users fast (and scales well even with HUGE user bases).

      Lost Season 1 Episodes 1-25, 8.8Gb in size, 399 seeders (people who have it), 5784 peers (people who are getting it). I'm normally getting about 35Kb/s.

      I'd say thats scaling pretty well. :D
    • Do you know how much more anime I'd buy if I could just download it and it was cheaper that way? It could be marketed simularly to the current "thin-pak" boxsets that don't have any extras, but are 15-30% cheaper than the normal sized boxsets. This stuff is so expensive as it is, I can only ever afford to buy the series I really like. They'd sell the stuff like hotcakes. Digital hotcakes, even.
      • At 20$ a DVD for a movie, I buy zero. If it was 5 movies for 20$ I would probably pick up a 5 pack once a month or so. And I see DVDs of very old stuff selling new for 2$ at Walmart, so I don't want hollyweird to say they couldn't sell the disks cheaper and make it up on volume sales. They are so out to lunch on pricing. Same with music basically. Now I don't download either (don't want to plus on dialup), but I would be in the market if they got real on hard media distribution and pricing. I've gone to mos
        • Just am not going to pay those ridiculous prices for new music and movies for a plastic disk that costs pennies to mass produce.
          You do realize you are paying for more than just a plastic disk, don't you?

          No, probably not.

    • You don't strictly speaking need to DRM anything. Just release episode #1 on bittorrent and episodes 2-26 on DVD only. You assume that no one would be happy with just consuming the first episode of your series and therefore it doesn't cost you anything to release it for free (they'll still buy DVD #1 to get episodes 2,3, and 4).
  • by frostman ( 302143 ) on Sunday August 21, 2005 @09:42AM (#13366191) Homepage Journal
    I don't know much about Anime culture per se, but I think this is a pretty enlightened move.

    With promotional freebies, distributing via BitTorrent gets you free publicity and lowers your distribution costs to practically nothing. Furthermore, doing it through your own trackers is likely to give you realistic download statistics, which are very valuable in themselves. (And why go to, say, Pirate Bay if the publisher itself is seeding?)

    For commercial products you'd rather sell, there's also something to be said for BitTorrent distribution. If you know that a significant portion of your customers are going to trade the files on P2P anyway, and you realize there's *nothing* you can do to stop it, why not get some love by seeding the things yourself?

    Of course that doesn't get you to the magic "3. Profit!" all by itself, but at least you get something back from a process that's inevitable anyway.

    That leaves the question of how to turn that good will into a buck (or Yen), which I admit is not easy. But as it stands Hollywood isn't even interested in trying, so it's nice to see someone inching down a new path.

    • Probably not as enlightened as we'd like to think. ADV hasn't been doing so well lately, with rampant layoffs, etc within the company. Combined with degrading product quality and an industry wide fad quickly reaching the end of the cycle, there's no where left to go but down.

      If anything, this is a move of desperation on ADV's part rather than a move of simply embracing a technology because it works.
      • You're right about the layoff's, but I believe it's more of a period of streamlining as opposed to degradation. The anime industry enjoyed a period of success over the last few years. The market is just flooded at this point, and we'll see a period of market correction at this point. The industry should stabilize and the companies that are left will be stronger and better organized.
    • The problem is still there, however. IMO the biggest problem with getting people to actually buy their anime (rather than bittorrent fansubs) is threefold:

      1) The fansubs are often better translated than the real thing. Most DVDs I have gotten have remarkably bad subtitles.
      2) The price. It costs 20-30 dollars per 4 episodes (80 minutes). Thats absolutely ridiculous!
      3) There is no easy, convenient way to watch an anime series once unless your local video store has it (unlikely). Thus, anyone who want
      • 1) I've seen a few bad subtitles, but nothing nearly as bad as I've seen on fansubs.

        2) Start looking around for some collections. You can get full 24-26 episode seasons for $30-40.

        3) Netflix.

        One huge problem with this route is that with fansubs, the people that make the work, the animators and producers in Japan and elsewhere, make no money from fansubs, basically it leeches the work of others.
        • Oops, I made some mistakes in the previous post.

          1) I've seen a few bad subtitles, but nothing nearly as bad as I've seen on some fansubs. Unless maybe you've been buying bootlegs, then that doesn't count, funding criminals and all, when fansubbers commit the deed for free. Check the Berne Convention if you don't believe me, fansubbing and bootlegging really is against the law in most countries because of this treaty.

          2) Start looking around for some collections. You can get full 24-26 episode seasons for
        • Of course, this ignores the fact that fansubs are what drive the industry. ADV, CPM, etc.. all rely on fansubs to determine whether or not a market for a particular series exists before spending the money needed to officially license them for distribution in the US.

          In effect, fansubs do eventually generate profits for both licensees and the original owners of an anime series.

          Of course, now that we have DMCA style laws popping up around the world now, fansubs are getting much harder to find and support. Perh
    • The model I believe they are adopting is "first one's free". In this case, they are showing either promos, or sometimes the first several episodes of a series, to get you interested.

      As you pointed out, the distribution costs for BT are practically free, compared to say mailing out promo DVDs or even bundling promo DVDs with other titles. The only other medium that's even close to it in benefit per cost is promos bundled ON other titles' DVDs, which we've been seeing for years now. With anime at least, it
    • why go to, say, Pirate Bay if the publisher itself is seeding?

      Probably for the same reason people download various Linux distros off of MiniNova, Suprnova (when it existed) and other torrent sites -- it's all aggregated in one place where everyone can see it when they go to get their 1337 0-d4y w4r3z (yes, I realize 0-day warez doesn't show up on those sites; no lectures on the pirate chain, please).
    • I don't know much about Anime culture per se, but I think this is a pretty enlightened move.
      Not really, all they're distributing is promo matierial, in other words commercials. So now you get to help pay for ADV to distribute its promos to the Internet at large. It would be fair to say this is taking advantage of Anime fans.

      Now if they were distributing full episodes and working on a model that allowed them to do that and make money as well that would be enlightened. Now all you really have is the

  • to make one company (not to mention every other anime distributor in North America) decide to switch their distribution model from the current one to Bit Torrent. Bit Torrent is really nice. It works well for Linux Distributions and other things that are given away for free. Hell, it even helps save the distributor some bandwidth. This is a good thing. However, given the popularity of BT programs like Azureus I can hardly see BT being popular as a for-pay distribution method. Azureus can be used to circumve
    • Azureus can be used to circumvent any distribution restrictions that a torrent publisher attempts to put on a torrent.

      Including putting phone-home DRM around the keys required to decrypt and play the work encoded by the file? How would Azureus circumvent that?

  • While it is a rather big step for an anime company to be using BT to distribute promotional material, just because ADV is doing it doesn't mean it will become a trend, particularly in light of ADV's recent financial troubles and staff cutbacks. Let's just say that the rest of the industry won't look towards ADV as a shining example of how to run a business, as they've made what has been viewed as some serious mistakes, such as licensing too many series that don't sell and flooding the manga market with subs
  • I was in the dealers room, and they weren't there. I kept hearing that ADV was not giving that large Anime convention any time of day. That convention would of been perfect for them to annouce their bittorrent service!
    • The ADV people did two panels at Otakon this year. I'm not sure why they didn't have a large booth in the industry section, but they were definitely not ignoring the convention.

      Most of the stuff they showed at their first panel was, as they mentioned, available on their Bittorrent pilot program.

      Not to mention that this Slashdot story is a dupe and ADV has been doing this for months now.
    • ADVision [] never has a big booth at Otakon []. They let Suncoast [] handle sales for them in the Dealer's Room, and they participate in Industry Panels at the event. Dave Williams, one of the producers for ADVision, was there, and mentioned Otakon in his blog [] yesterday, along with links to the torrents for Madlax [] and Godannar []. You'll need this codec [] to view these.
  • by Gaspo ( 862470 ) <> on Sunday August 21, 2005 @10:08AM (#13366254)
    So basically what they're doing is using BitTorrent as their distribution system, ok. BitTorrent can perhaps now be shown as a legitimate tool used not just for illegal file sharing. Oh wait, the media would never allow themselves to be wrong. Ah, there was a glimmer of hope...
    • What's really funny is, I remember when illegal file sharing was accomplished via an FTP site. Before that it was Newsgroups(and in some cases still is). The media never jumped on those distribution methods and labeled them evil. How is BitTorrent any different? They all have legitimate and illegitimate reasons to use them. Hell, I just used BitTorrent to get the latest version of FreeBSD. []
    • So basically what they're doing is using BitTorrent as their distribution system,

      No, they are using BT as their distribution system for their commercials, not for anything that is a direct revenue generator.

      In the anime community ADV is well-known for some of the suckiest customer-facing behaviour from any publisher. While the engineer who has been the internal promoter of using BT this way is a good enough chap, management clearly sees it as a way to advertise for really, really cheap - they don't even ha
    • Oh wait, the media would never allow themselves to be wrong.

      Only in the way Big Brother can never be wrong. It doesn't mean they can't change their position.
  • Does anyone know a good bittorrent server? I'm looking for a daemon like program that automatically starts seeding torrents when it finds them in a directory including subdirectories.
    A daemon with the following features wouldn't hurt:

    * automaticly seed torrents when they are found in a given directory (also when torrents are added while the daemon is running)
    * built-in tracker
    * process friendly, e.g. report as seed but don't have an active thread\process for a single torrent until it's actually needed
    * an o
  • How will this Anime distributor feel when, rather than promos, outsiders start distributing the full legnth versions of their products on BitTorrent?

    I don't think this question is being addressed. In fact, some seem to want to pretend ADV is distributing more than promos.
  • Do they expect to ... um ... profit?

    If so, how?
  • First of all, how is this news? ADV films going BitTorrent was already covered []. Second of all, what's the significance? Promo clips in general are freely downloadable anyway, just like linux ISO torrents.
  • I've thought for years they should have been doing this for series that didn't have a bad first episode. Free DVDs in anime magazines were a good way to give readers a taste of something new without commiting. Now this gets rid of manufacturing costs, and promotes their anime. Now they just have to hope it doesn't backfire, and cause people not interested in torrents to give it a try, and then realize they can get much much more from torrents if they really want it....
  • Now that they're getting involved in bittorrent, I'm a little scared about the future of current fansub BT sites like Animesuki etc. So far, anime companies have been pretty fair about things. They know we fansub stuff, and download it, but in return, they get a chance to see which series will work in the states and which won't, which saves them a ton of money. I'm just concerned that the more they invest in bittorrent, the more they might start cracking down on these sites.

    The reason anime has grown so

  • from what i could tell, the reporter probably just interviewed US anime distributors and that's how he/she got all the information about these 'illegal' fansubbers.

    fansubbing is a gray area if it is anime that hasn't been licensed in the country you're living. i'm not talking about fansubbers that continue to fansub material even after it's licensed. i'm only talking about fansubbers who fansubbed material that won't be available in their language any time soon. in fact, most fansub groups that I know about
    • fansubbing is a gray area if it is anime that hasn't been licensed in the country you're living.

      No it's not.
  • by semiazas ( 579031 ) on Sunday August 21, 2005 @04:42PM (#13367733) Journal
    At first, I thought nothing but good thoughts about ADV. They came onto the anime fan scene with promises of more translated anime at better prices and I believed them. They translated and resold some really good titles and all was well with the world.. Except....

    The fly in the ointment was the incomprehensible fact that subtitled tapes where consistently 33% more expensive than the dubbed alternatives. This, coming from a group that introduced themselves as the "anime by fans for fans" company, caused quite a few fans to question ADV's true motives. Requests, demands, and even (or especially) screaming demands for an explanation were often ignored completely. I sat in on several convention panels where, when asked point blank, ADV representatives would either carefully sidestep the issue completely, get angry and ignore it, or provide a ridiculous justification. The fact is there is simply NO WAY producing a subtitled translation cost more than a dubbed translation but ADV felt justified in gouging their "fans" because they knew they could get away with it.

    After being snubbed by ADV reps on the dealer room floor several times I decided to boycott ADV. Years passed, and the question became moot once DVDs became the media of choice. This coupled with ADV's penchant for snatching up every good title the moment they can and at the same time their search-and-destroy policy against fansubbers left me little choice but to try them out again. I was disappointed. Their subtitles left a lot to be desired, and their dubs where, with some exceptions, simply insipid. Paying $.50 to $1 a minute for anime that in many cases had been been partially fansubbed FOR FREE at a superior level of quality really rubbed me the wrong way. I watched series after series get snatched up by ADV, fansubs shut down left and right before completion, and then episodes parceled out at a rate often slower than that of its domestic release. The only conciliation in the entire mess was, if you were patient enough and willing to wait the literal years it took, ADV would eventually come around and release a box set of all the episodes, usually at a price per minute that made the purchase worthwhile. Until...

    ADV, in their marketing magnificence, introduced these collectors' kits. Wow, what a concept. Combine box sets with the necessity of purchasing individual episodes one disc at a time and bam, the best of both worlds. We keep the box set guys happy, AND, we rake in even more cash. Goodbye the old series collections, wherein, if the consumer is patient enough, the entire series is sold at a discounted rate per episode. Hello brand shiny sparkly NEW collections, and hey, we'll even throw in a $5 t-shirt for $20. Now, if you want the entire thing from ADV, you're forced to buy them one disc at a time for the full retail price, no breaks, no deals, daddie's gotta buy a brand new car and pay for that heated driveway.

    So I'm back to boycotting ADV, secure in the knowledge that if all else fails I can fall back on US Mangle or one of the other smaller commercial subbers now scurrying for scraps from ADV's table. Except, damn if they don't catch on and start doing the exact same damn thing that ADV started. The shelves are now riddled with "collector sets" that consist of large flimsy cardboard boxes filled to the brim with one disc and, if you're lucky, a shirt or some manga, or, if you're not, a neat and completely useless block of styrofoam.

    So I say, hats off to ADV, you guys are working your way into bankruptcy one marketing idea at a time. The entire industry is so bent on paying for those driveways that the ONLY source for quality subtitled anime is from the fans, where it's always been. With the exception of Pioneer who've been top notch with the few titles they've managed to wrest from ADV's clawing grasp.
  • The New York Times' Charles Solomon reports that 'ADV Films, the largest distributor of anime in the United States is releasing promotional packages via the BitTorrent.'

    Dammit! And I was hoping that maybe they would be pirating The REM and The Aerosmith!
  • Any ETA on when I can expect a ~$2 per episode, download on demand, high quality torrent of series, each episode released within a couple of days of being aired in japan?

    I've become quite used to the speed, convenience, and quality of fansubs -- if the anime companies can be faster, more convenient (eg legal), or higher quality, I'd be only too willing to pay for them.

    Come to think of it, what would the problem be with a company like ADV simply buying out a fansub group, getting them to do everything as

I've got a bad feeling about this.