Why do fansubbers merge video and subtitle into one file?

Sometimes its an mkv file and I can just extract the sub.

On some sites they hardcode it into the video frames as image overlay.

This is so silly. Why not just have the one video file which several languages or translation versions (corrections) can share, instead of re-encode and re-upload? And if someone wants a sub they can download just the sub. Distributing subs must also be easier because the subtitle files are smaller, so no wasted bandwidth, and it might not even be illegal to share just the sub. Plenty of reasons!

Do they have some reason which I do not realize?

  • 2
    Actually, hardsubbing has been frowned upon in fansubbing community for many years now. It is the official distributors (like Funimation) who hardsub their releases. And note "HorribleSubs" is not subbing group. They just rip streaming sites like Crunchyroll and Funimation.
    – Euphoric
    Jul 12, 2016 at 13:27
  • in regards to your note. yes subbing is apart of anime but this is different to fan subbing
    – Memor-X
    Jul 12, 2016 at 13:28
  • 1
    also the sharing of subtitles files on the net can be just as illegal as sharing anime on the net without the neccersary linceses because subtitles can be considered the script which as discussed here is also copyrighted content
    – Memor-X
    Jul 12, 2016 at 13:35
  • 4
    I actually don't agree that this question should be closed. The point of the "Requesting illegal materials" close reason was to get rid of questions like "Where can I find fansubs of XX series?", which this question is not asking. This is about a practice in the production of fansubs, and talking about that practice is neither illegal nor copyrighted, nor does it constitute asking for links to illegal or copyrighted materials—particularly as it doesn't even mention a specific series.
    – Torisuda
    Jul 12, 2016 at 14:47
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    @Memor-X My argument against that close reason was that asking why fansubbers do hardsubs is not actually asking for links to fansubs, therefore in my eyes it is not requesting illegal or copyrighted material. To me, asking about fansub production is not requesting illegal or copyrighted materials. There are legitimate reasons to close this, I just didn't think the chosen reason was one of them. As I said, though, I really don't care about this question enough to argue about it; it's closed and I'm done with it.
    – Torisuda
    Jul 13, 2016 at 5:18

1 Answer 1


I'm not sure about the whole scope of hardsub usage, but here is at least one widely used case:

There are tons of sites where people can watch anime online. And most of these sites are using really primitive embedded video players, which are usually not capable of any manipulation with subtitles, like switching between subtitles of different languages, or even enabling/disabling subtitles. So, the only viable method to include subtitles in such cases is hardsub.

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