Via Sankaku Complex today, it's been reported that the anime Fractale has been pulled from legitimate simulcast websites by the Japanese company because, wait for it, fansubbers have been releasing their own version.
Let's take a moment to put the pieces together.
An anime that is simulcasted, as in, it's released at the same time or earlier than the Japanese original, is being pirated.
We're not talking about an anime that's months or years late for its English debut, we're not talking about Amerian voice actor quality, and we're not talking about poor kids trying to save money. We're talking about a free simulcast being ripped and illegally distributed. Do you need to skip 60 seconds of commercials that badly? Are fansubber quality subtitles that much better than the professional version? There isn't a single legitimate excuse for this.
The issue of piracy is complex and it seems as though, barring a massive third-party economic investigation into the whole thing, we'll never get a complete and accurate picture of how much harm or good it actually causes. This, however, is blatant jackassery. In the case of Fractale, illegal fansubs provided no discernible benefit over the legitimate release, but piracy has directly and negatively impacted the American anime industry. As a cherished friend and industry professional once said, "If you don't pay for it, it goes away." Like I said, piracy in general is very complicated, but this incident is nothing but harmful.
One of the pervasive stances on pirated manga and anime from fans who partake is, "I don't care who distributes it, as long as I get it as fast and as free as possible." I imagine their dream world is a place where all the major manga and anime distributors outside of Japan have finally choked out and died, and all that's left are a handful of mega-sites dedicated to ripping Japanese pop culture. There they will provide translations that are chalked full of spelling, grammatical, and stylistic errors. Translations that are unregulated and unchecked, and possibly used to distribute viruses.
No, legitimate distributors aren't perfect and it would be ignorant to say our legitimately distributed manga and anime get by completely unscathed, but in my mind the benefits of legitimate distribution far outweigh the negatives. Before anyone accuses me of being on a moral high horse, let me say that while my position on pirating is largely impacted by the morality of it, more importantly, I just want my Japanese entertainment with some quality.
Is that really so wrong?