Commonly these videos were recorded either from broadcast television or high quality laserdisc, and subtitled using a video editor to a Super VHS "master" for duplication to VHS. The tapes are then distributed through a fansub distributor (often not the subtitlers themselves) who provide the tapes for a fee that usually only covers the costs of tape and delivery. Though the unlicensed distribution of movies and television programs is a violation of copyright law, prosecutions almost never occur. Most fansub groups will not distribute a product that is commercially available in their country, and will cease distribution when it does. It is generally accepted that for Japanese fansubbing, there is an unspoken agreement between the fansubbers and Japanese copyright holders that fansubs help promote a product. Indeed, when commercial versions of a video become available, they are often superior in video and translation quality to fansubs, though there have been exceptions.
In recent years this practice has largely been abandoned in favor of digisubs, which are usually distributed through peer to peer software on IRC, or through BitTorrent. However, some fansubbers argue that the high quality of digital fansubs is unethical, and continue to make and distribute VHS tapes.