As reported earlier over at Anime News Network, Crunchyroll and TV Tokyo filed a lawsuit against 13 YouTube uploaders for allegedly copying, uploading and distributing episodes of Naruto, Naruto Shippuden and Bleach to YouTube.
The copyright infringement complaint was filed on May 11 and served between July and September. The 13 defendants in question reside in the United States, Japan, Canada, Denmark, and Hungary. With the suit filed as a U.S. copyright violation in the Northern District Court of California, TV Tokyo has given Crunchyroll legal permission to act on its behalf through the proceedings.
TV Tokyo holds broadcasting rights for the series in question, and Crunchyroll holds online streaming rights for the allegedly uploaded episodes. The episodes have since been removed; Crunchyroll initially issued a takedown notice to YouTube, and they complied, sending counter notifications to the defendants. However, the defendants then responded, claiming the videos were removed due to "mistake or misidentification of the material to be removed or disabled."
Crunchyroll and TV Tokyo claim that the defendants were engaging in willful copyright infringement, because they knew they did not have the legal rights to upload the videos.
The first date for representatives of Crunchyroll and TV Tokyo to meet with defendants and a judge is currently set for November 18. On August 18, the Northern District Court of California granted a motion to allow those involved to pursue settlement outside of court, should they choose to do so.
Crunchyroll News received the following statement from Crunchyroll co-founder and CEO Kun Gao:
Crunchyroll fully supports the legal streaming of anime, and even encourages users to watch our licensed videos on our official anime channel on YouTube. Categorically, we don't endorse legal action against anime fans and viewers.
Recently, we have identified a few specific accounts on YouTube which were responsible for over 200 million unauthorized streams of our licensed content. These accounts were owned by repeat uploaders who continued to illegally distribute licensed shows despite receiving multiple DMCA takedown notices. In compliance with YouTube's TOS, filing a formal legal complaint was a necessary step in order to keep these illegal streams off of YouTube.
With permission and cooperation of our Japanese partners, we will continue to work on their behalf to protect their content from illegal distribution.
Crunchyroll is the only legal website where anime fans can watch shows such as Naruto Shippūden and BLEACH immediately after TV broadcast in Japan. Revenue we receive is shared with anime producers in Japan and goes toward making more great anime titles in the future. We want to thank anime fans worldwide for their continued support in helping us promote legal distribution of Anime.