The shutdown of KissAnime is less of a strike to media piracy but a blow to the many works that are on the verge of being lost to time.
A Pyrrhic Victory for Copyright, a Blow to History
Anime fans were taken by shock over the weekend when KissAnime was abruptly shutdown. One of the largest streaming sites for pirated anime, the shutdown was in-response to Japans new copyright law. This will not end media piracy and another will take its place. For now, copyright holders have achieved some victory.
The shutdown of KissAnime is a strike to media piracy. Yet these victories don’t last and media pirates will always find a way. What is overlooked is how this shutdown is a blow to many lost and forgotten works. Going after media pirates without addressing the root cause is only gonna promote the act while also hurting the mediums history.
A Strike to Piracy
If you have read any of my anime reviews, you know I have a subscription to both Netflix and VRV. Along with Hulu, I spend around $36 a month on these subscription services. While pricey at first, it’s a better option than cable and I could watch what I want at anytime. I could easily access them through my phone, PC or PlayStation 4. As an added bonus, I don’t have to worry about malware or viruses.
For so many, easy access and affordability have been excellent deterrence against media piracy.
Crunchyroll alone has done so much to bring anime to the masses while also properly compensating the talents behind it. Like so many, I signed up for Crunchyroll or VRV because it was affordable, reliable and it gave me easy access to a vast library. Streaming services do have their fair share of issues, but they will be the best choice.
Let’s not forget that nobody works for free. Animators, artists, writers and performers have put their time along with their talent to create these works. They have earned their pay and have a right to collect on the royalties while keeping their jobs. It’s easy to look past the economic harm when it hurts a greedy corporation but it’s the team that brings these stories to life.
The Blow to History
KissAnime had a purpose and that was access to works that other services did not have. Specifically, classics works that are not streaming anywhere and are difficult to find on home media. This is due to the complicated structure of copyright laws along with expired licensing agreements, the lack of license distributors, or the studios and publishers having been shuttered (resulting in copyright trolls). While unethical and illegal, KissAnime was one of the few reliable services that allowed these lost works to be remembered.
Take for example the OVA adaptation of Battle Angel Alita. Truly a masterpiece that has had a profound impact while having a solid fan base. Despite the success of the live-action film, no effort has been made to bring the OVA to a streaming platform. Nor has the OVA come to a VOD service or reprinted it on DVD and Blu-ray. Yet, those who wished to see this adaptation could turn to KissAnime.
Another OVA that I got to see thanks to KissAnime was Starship Troopers. No not the 1997 film but the 1988 OVA. This six-part series was a more faithful adaptation of the iconic novel and was created in collaboration with Robert A. Heinlein prior to his passing. Despite its significance to anime and the overall legacy of the source material, it has almost been lost. The OVA is not available on any streaming service and was only released on Laser-disc (which are rare to find).
Like Tears in Rain
While a major strike to media piracy, the shutdown of KissAnime is a blow to the history of anime. However, a work of media is always at risk of being lost to time. More so when no effort is made or the copyright holder is too dependent on digital storage. This is a problem not just for anime but all media.
According to the Film Foundation, half of all American films made before 1950 and the majority of those made before 1930 are lost. These are not early experimental films or obscure titles, but works that launch the careers of cinematic and pop-culture icons. Among the most notable are Humor Risk (the Marx Brothers first film) and The Mountain Eagle (the second film by Alfred Hitchcock).
The video game industry is no different as publishers and developers have lost the source code for major titles. The loss of the source code has forced developers to remake classics from scratch. Most notable was Konami having lost most of the source code for Silent Hill 2 and 3. Square Enix had the same problem when making the HD remaster of Kingdom Hearts and had to start from scratch.
Need for a Solution
Modern media piracy at its core is fueled by a broken copyright system along with the unrealistic greed of copyright holders and the balkanization of content. Instead of trying to kill this hydra, it would be best for studios to work to be the better alternative. This includes reforms to copyright laws that making distribution easier while crippling the efforts of copyright trolls. At the same time, studios and streaming services need to better work together instead of against each other.
Media piracy will never die and those involved will always find a way around. At the same time, there will always be those who will pirate simple because they don’t value the artistic work of others.
The shutdown of KissAnime is only a temporary setback as another will take its place. It’s in the best interest of publishers to undermine the efforts of pirates by being the better option. They can’t stop everyone but they could convince the majority. That way they can bring their work to the masses while also profiting and preserving the classics.
Will you miss KissAnime or do you prefer a legitimate streaming service? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.
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