I am an experienced dev and my goal is to create an anime streaming site. I have made a custom CMS in Python but now need the content. When making the site, I soon realized that the content needs to be real and I don't know how to get it.

I researched further into the field and saw that I need a license to buy dubbed, subbed or anything related to anime. After seeing this, I brainstormed and saw that it only said that to BUY anime it cost this much. A site named Crunchyroll does this and earns money from subscription fees.

I changed my mind and thought I could make a non-profit anime site without a license. Is this true? I'm not editing, changing or adding things to the manga/anime and will not be earning any money off it.

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    Unfortunately, we're not lawyers and probably can't provide the concrete answer you're looking for. As far as I know, though, yes, you would need a license, because you're essentially offering other people's content for free, when they should be getting paid for it (via content purchases or subscriptions such as on CrunchyRoll).
    – Cattua
    Nov 25, 2014 at 17:37
  • Ok. I understand. Looking through the internet, i found many sites that are "illegal" (without licenses) that have not been taken down nor even mentioned.
    – MasonHD
    Nov 25, 2014 at 17:39
  • Look for similar questions about regular tv series. There should be some general guidelines about licensing for free streaming sites that apply both to anime and every other tv show. We're not lawyers here, just anime fans, so we aren't knowledgeable enough to give you concrete answer.
    – Hakase
    Nov 25, 2014 at 17:39
  • Thank you. I know that your just fans but that's why i thought you may have experience watching anime on sites.
    – MasonHD
    Nov 25, 2014 at 17:41
  • CrunchyRoll does allow you to watch videos for free however you are limited, you can see a difference between free and their membership subscriptions here
    – Memor-X
    Nov 25, 2014 at 21:11

1 Answer 1


Simply put: Yes, you will need to license your content.

Whether it is for-profit or free of charge, you are still dealing with copyrighted content. If you want to distribute this copyrighted content legally, you will need to license it. When doing this, make sure the license terms actually allow this kind of distribution. Otherwise you are operating no differently than other illegal distribution websites.

You may see plenty of websites similar to yours that don't seem to get mentioned. Take this with a grain of salt, a lot of similar operations employ various "tricks" to get around the law. Such tricks can involve hosting in a country with more lax copyright laws. Just because you see such operations doesn't mean your plans will go just as fine.

Of course, anything in the public domain is fine. There may be older shows where the copyright has expired, so you can get away with publishing those.

However what you don't want to do is solely trust some random dude from the internet. If you are seriously considering this kind of operation, then consult with a copyright lawyer.

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    Please also note that copyright laws work a bit differently in Japan. What's applicable in one country might not be the same in another. You can find a translated English reference resource about Japanese Copyright Law here: japaneselawtranslation.go.jp/?re=02
    – кяαzєя
    Nov 25, 2014 at 18:39
  • 1
    @ʞɹɐzǝɹ I've tried to be as generic as possible in that regard. Especially for someone who isn't well-versed in international copyright law, it's better to take the blanket "everything is copyrighted unless told otherwise" approach.
    – BlueBuddy
    Nov 25, 2014 at 18:47

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