Main Page | See live article | Alphabetical index


Fansub - short for "fan subtitled"; a copy of a foreign movie or television show (most often anime) which has been subtitled by "fans" into their native language. This has been done to provide shows that would otherwise be unavailable in one's native language, but with the growth in the popularity of anime, fansubs purpose has expanded to include programs that would be commercially unviable in one's country or simply to reduce the amount of time one would wait to see a particular program.

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.