Piracy Wars: Toei Goes After Popular YouTube Anime Reviewer

Piracy Wars: Toei Goes After Popular YouTube Anime Reviewer!

Crappy copyright claims is a subject that has hit me on more than one occasion. Back in 2013, TV Tokyo hit me with a bogus copyright complaint that was later corrected. Again in 2013, Viz hit me with a copyright complaint, only this time, they were complaining about me doing what they asked me to do some time before — promote an anime movie of theirs. (Read about that here.)

And then a copyright “troll” company slammed years of my blog posts, though they did work with me and ended up whitelisting my site. (The fallout still remains though.)

Most recently, Monstercat hit me with a copyright claim on YouTube (my Diablo: Hellfire Episode 10 video) for music that bled through, BUT which could not be heard without cranking your volume to maximum and shredding your speakers. It is frustrating because unless you get lucky or have a ton of money to pay for a lawyer, you are at the mercy of those making the copyright claim, even if it is bogus.

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Toei vs Totally Not Mark

For those who don’t know, Totally Not Mark has a YouTube channel whereupon he does a lot of anime review videos. His primary focus has been One Piece and the Dragon Ball franchise as a whole. Totally Not Mark’s channel has been going on for a few years and is pretty popular with ~685K subscribers at this point. His videos are nicely edited, using a combination of manga frame/page pan-and-scans, still images, and video clips.

A few days ago, Toei (whether their lawyers or a copyright troll company working on their behalf) suddenly slammed Totally Not Mark with 150 copyright claims. Some of these videos reportedly didn’t even have Toei material in them, but they were claimed anyway. As such, Toei takes all revenue generated from these videos, IF they were left up. Totally Not Mark can appeal, but since YouTube is not involved in the appeal, and there are no third party arbitrators, Toei is whom you appeal to. And they aren’t going to change their mind.

As I was writing this, I’m informed that Toei blocked the videos worldwide, so Totally Not Mark didn’t take them down, and Toei isn’t getting revenue from said videos. That surprises me, if true.

Does Toei Have a Legit Claim?

Even after years of not having a problem with Totally Not Mark’s videos, do they have a legit copyright claim? As I looked through his videos, I personally didn’t see an issue. He isn’t playing entire episodes. The clips are mostly short, though I think what may have nailed him was sometimes using audio in said clips. However, copyright lawyer Leonard French weighed in on the subject and has some interesting points.



Not that Toei cares, but this does leave a negative taste in my mouth and the mouths of other anime fans aware of the situation. And frankly, that’s why I’m posting this article — to spread awareness.

Either way, Totally Not Mark is taking the rest of the year off to evaluate what he wants to do. His channel is kinda dead since Toei may claim more of his content, including new stuff. I feel badly for him as I know that based on my own limited (and non-financially impacting) situations, it is rage-inducing to get hit with a copyright claim you feel is bogus. Then after the rage goes down a bit, devastating depression sets in. And in Totally Not Mark’s situation, his YouTube channel was his job.

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What Needs to Change?

YouTube’s copyright claim system, and its automated ContentID system are broken beyond belief. They even acknowledge that there is a problem, yet they refuse to do anything about it. Why? Because they get paid no matter what. Further, YouTube isn’t interested in tiny creators like me, or moderate creators like Totally Not Mark. They are only interested in celebrities and corporate accounts because the most money can be made there.

Beyond this,  copyright laws need to be changed. Copyrights DO need to be protected and copyright owners should get paid for their stuff. However, abusing the system is terrible. And YouTube’s system is “guilty until proven innocent” (in part, thanks to horrible copyright laws). The fact that appeals have to be made to the entity making the claim in the first place.

In the meantime, I wish Totally Not Mark the best.

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10 Responses to “Piracy Wars: Toei Goes After Popular YouTube Anime Reviewer”

  1. arimareiji says:

    Remember when YouTube made a big publicity campaign out of how much they love Fair Use five years ago, and picked four examples to make a big deal of how they would defend them if needed?
    I’m going to make a wild guess that I’m not the only one who thought it was a hollow PR stunt bordering on a bad joke. And I still stand by my hunch that they contacted everyone who might’ve filed a claim against their candidates, and those four were the only ones they were sure they’d never have to defend.
    Looking at Leonard’s video, I found out they produce DBZ (never ever going to watch anyway), and One Piece. I’d gotten a trustworthy recommendation recently for One Piece, and had put it into my mental queue of things to watch. Not any more.

    • AstroNerdBoy says:

      Yeah, these days, YouTube is basically all about “Whomever says you are in violation of copyright, that’s the truth and sucks to be you. If you want to appeal, you have to appeal the the ones slamming you, so good luck with that!”

      I’d gotten a trustworthy recommendation recently for One Piece, and had put it into my mental queue of things to watch.

      FUNimation sent me the first DVD set years ago. I found it to be a typical shounen title, whereupon fights go on for episodes ’cause “action”. My nephew was marathoning One Piece when I was on vacation. I remember hearing a lot of “Omae wa!” 😂

  2. OverMaster says:

    People have to drop YouTube and create/find a more sensible alternative.

    • AstroNerdBoy says:

      Some creators are as YouTube sucks badly for the smaller creator. However, they are still forced to publish to YouTube as (1) only a small percentage of channel subscribers will follow them to the new platform despite knowing how bad YT is and (2) even for channels with 100K+ subs (that’s the mark where YouTube starts to treat you a tiny bit serious), most of their views come from folks who aren’t subscribed to the channel.

      So if a person makes their living off of creating video content, moving to a new platform isn’t going to cut it. They’ll take a massive loss, even with Patreon supporters. And Google/YouTube know it.

      • OverMaster says:

        Sooner or later a new video platform is going to have to become just as rentable as YouTube or more, or else the site will have a dictatorship going forever. Simple as that.
        You can’t expect for them to change their minds on these subjects, they’ll never do because from their perspective they have no real reason for it.
        So the only thing left is toppling and replacing them. Change just won’t come otherwise.

        • AstroNerdBoy says:

          I’m hearing Rumble is the place folks are going. But as I said, it isn’t just getting content creators to move. It is getting viewers to move. YouTube has been around for ages. Its app is pre-installed on phones and such.

          • Rob C. says:

            I think creators have to see where users go. They (as in we) need get hit hard to move along to somewhere sheltered away from battered eyes of youtube/google. Trolls like Toei employs will likely go after it too. I have doubts unless someone serious gets involved, the copyright laws will not change if not, maybe get worse.

          • AstroNerdBoy says:

            My own anecdotal observation is that even with big creators, if they move from one place to another, they never get the same levels of support on the new platform. While I don’t watch Dr DisRespect, he had over 4M followers on Twitch before his mysterious ban. In the 1.5 years since, he still hasn’t hit that mark on YouTube, where he ended up moving to.

            However, for folks going from YouTube to Twitch, they generally only get 10% of their audience.

            I have doubts unless someone serious gets involved, the copyright laws will not change if not, maybe get worse.

            True. And the folks running the big corporations have a vested interest in making things worse.

  3. Jeff Eby says:

    I don’t know if I’ve seen his videos but I have the feeling any ruling against him would stand if they wanted it to stand. Speaking from an academic sense (I’m a librarian who has studied copyright some- but not extensively), youtubers (and wikis and bloggers) stretch the concept of fair-use rather far and if examined–it wouldn’t hold up. If Toei or other copyright holders wanted to go after Fandom Wiki… it would destroy them. The biggest reason copyright holders don’t go after those that use their images is that they appreciate the free promotion. the fair use argument of “free discussion” only goes so far. I think it was in the 80’s when a landmark case was decided in which a book reviewer was convicted (and the conviction was upheld) of breaking copyright because they used “too much” and directly quoted a portion of a non-fiction book that revealed one of its biggest revelations.

    I’m not saying its fair. I study it because I work with scientists that publish important papers that have to have all rights clear.

    The only way to fight it is too be “too big” to be taken down. Look up videos of Mark Beato complaining about having his videos taken down. He admits freely that the only way he gets his stuff back up is because his channel is popular enough that he can publicly shame rights holders into letting them stay At one point only, Fleetwood Mac and Paul Simon were holdouts- but I think even they have relented. Yet he refuses to cover Led Zepplin, because they’re too much of a pain to deal with.

    • AstroNerdBoy says:

      The one copyright lawyer I saw weigh in on the case said that based on some of the content that wasn’t touched, it is possible that Totally Not Mark may have been using more than the “minimum needed” for fair usage when it comes to clips.

      If a copyright troll company did the takedowns (which I think is highly likely, based on my own experiences and the allegation that Toei claimed videos with none of their content in it), they are getting paid per removal, and with that kind of incentive, they will just go nuts.

      The only way to fight it is too be “too big” to be taken down.

      That doesn’t always work. PewDiePie is the biggest individual YouTube channel out there. Music he created and owns the copyrights to have been claimed by copyright trolls, supposedly on his behalf. And he was unable to get them restored as far as I know. Hiring a lawyer to fix the issue would cost a ton, which these copyright trolls know.

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