On 15th August I woke up to find KissAnime had officially shut down their site. When you go to their site their statement reads “All files are taken down by copyright owners. This site will be closed forever. Thank you for your supports”. This comes after a new anti-online piracy law on the control of copyrighted items such as anime, manga, videos and music websites. Any site seen to be infringing on this copyright could face up to 5 years in jail and/or a hefty fine.
For those who don’t know, KissAnime was a pirate site which had a vast library of anime content all in one place, they have been around for over 10 years and had managed to escape their site being taken through a loop hole in the previous law which has now been rectified.
The loophole they were exploiting came in the form of a legal disclaimer KissAnime had on their site which stated the following:
“The author is not responsible for any contents linked or referred to from his pages – If any damage occurs by the use of information presented there, only the author of the respective pages might be liable, not the one who has linked to these pages. KissAnime doesn’t host any content. All KissAnime does is link or embed content that was uploaded to popular Online Video Hosting sites like Veoh.com/Megavideo.com/YouTube.com/Google Video. All YouTube/Veoh/megavideo/googlev ideo users signed a contract with the sites when they set up their accounts which forces them to not to upload illegal content. By clicking on any links to videos while surfing on KissAnime, you watch content hosted on third parties and KissAnime can’t take the responsibility of any content hosted on other sites.”
You have to give it to the guys over at KissAnime, they are smart; they exploited a loophole by technically saying we are not illegal because we are not hosting the content, we are merely redistributing it from a host of sites that we link to; the main culprits are actually the sites that host the content. This also allowed them to place ads on their website and make money from streaming despite not having a license.
So, were they doing anything illegal? It depends on your definition of what’s illegal, they were exploiting the system that’s for sure and I think for me that’s where they would probably get a lot hate, as it relates to cheating the system and taking money away from the anime industry. According to Kyodo who broke the news on the new Copyright Law to be enforced, they mentioned sites such as KissAnime were costing the industry about 300 billion yen which is roughly about £2.5billion here in the UK. That’s a costly sum to the anime industry and Suuuper Anime Podcast is by no means advocating or condoning any actions that would affect the industry and the people who work in the industry, however, what can be said is anime has a serious servicing problem.
As a mentioned early in the blog KissAnime had a host of anime shows, mostly like due to the fact they were linking and embedding content from various sites. This allowed anime fans to essentially get one aggregated site where they could find the new, old, best and undiscovered anime. In episode 5 of our podcast Shut Down! RIP KissAnime, we got voice recordings from the anime community to express their thanks and thoughts of what kissAnime meant to them. One user mentioned how for him the one thing he really liked about KissAnime “was that it included unknown and indie anime that weren’t really mainstream at all”.
It’s about DISCOVERY and giving anime fans a place to watch anime – a whole lot of anime. Unfortunately, due to issue with licensing, a lot of streaming sites such as Crunchyroll, Netflix and Amazon are not able to get the library of content KissAnime had. Legal or illegal whatever your view is on their activity, KissAnime were certainly providing the anime fans what they needed - a large library of anime all in one place. According to web measurement site Similar Web, before getting shut down KissAnime was getting 95 million visits a month.
At this point you might be asking why not uses the other streaming services such as Crunchyroll, Netflix, Amazon and so on. Well first thing is that KissAnime was FREE, lots of ad pop ups but it was free, but most importantly it was ACCESSIBLE. Sites like Crunchyroll do have a free service whereby users just have to watch ads but the biggest problem with Crunchyroll is that they are not in every country.
In our Shut Down! RIP KissAnime episode 5, another user from India (I am assuming) left a note stating “in my country, legal streaming websites are not available” and this is evident when you look at the below image where India is the third highest country for web visits to KissAnime after the Philippines with United States (US) being the highest. While people in the Philippines and India have a strong reason to use KissAnime, it can be argued that people in the US do not. The likes of Crunchyroll and Funimation are available in the US and thus if you are reading this please support by using those sites. I would imagine a lot of people have and pay for these sites but again that ugly word of licensing prevents a lot of anime fans from watching and discovering some anime that is not available on those legal sites and thus resort to pirate sites. Again, servicing problem!
So now that KissAnime has been taking down with the possibility of more sites being taking down, will this save the anime industry in lost revenue? It might, but I would argue that sites like KissAnime were the gateway to many people discovering anime and becoming passionate anime fans. Unless something is done about the licensing and access to anime, closing/shutting down all sites deemed to be illegally streaming anime could have a detrimental effect on not just the anime community but the Anime industry itself. As stated above, a lot of countries don’t have legal sites to stream anime and thus found anime through illegal pirate sites but what we cannot account for is the amount of money these fans may have paid for in anime merchandise.
“My mum had breast cancer and watching anime was one of the forms of distraction that actually helped me through that”.
To conclude while not innocent, KissAnime really did bring and help a lot of people with regards to not just watching anime but offering a path to escapism. In our Shut Down RIP KissAnime episode 5, we heard from a guy who said, “my mum had breast cancer and watching anime was one of the forms of distraction that actually helped me through that”. I honestly believe without sites such as KissAnime, the anime universe won’t be as big and popular as it is today. Thank You KissAnime!
TLDR:The Anime industry needs to eradicate licensing issues so we can all enjoy a large catalogue of our favorite anime shows as well as discovery and becomes fans of lesser known ones. Also, if there is an anime you are watching and a legal site is streaming the anime in your country, please use that site.
Let us know what your thoughts are about KissAnime in the comments section below.