Offering millions of viewers the chance to watch the latest movies and TV shows for free the day they’re released or earlier, they’re very much hated by the entertainment industries.
Tomorrow, however, there’s the very real possibility of a huge copyright infringement controversy hitting large parts of Mexico, all centered around the hugely popular anime series Dragon Ball Super.
This Saturday episode 130, titled “The Greatest Showdown of All Time! The Ultimate Survival Battle!!”, will hit the streets. It’s the penultimate episode of the series and will see the climax of Goku and Jiren’s battle – apparently.
The key point is that fans everywhere are going nuts in anticipation, so much so that various local governments in Mexico have agreed to hold public screenings for free, including in football stadiums and public squares.
“Fans of the series are crazy to see the new episode of Dragon Ball Super and have already organized events around the country as if it were a boxing match,” local media reports.
For example, Remberto Estrada, the municipal president of Benito Juárez, Quintana Roo, confirmed that the episode will be aired at the Cultural Center of the Arts in Cancun. The mayor of Ciudad Juarez says that a viewing will go ahead at the Plaza de la Mexicanidad with giant screens and cosplay contests on the sidelines.
Many local government Twitter accounts sent out official invitations, like the one shown below.
AYUNTAMIENTO CAPITALINO TRANSMITIRÁ FINAL DE DRAGÓN BALL EN PLAZA DEL CARMEN – El próximo sábado 17 de marzo, el evento dirigido a los fans de las series animadas japonesas y de los cómics… https://t.co/NhMn42toqj pic.twitter.com/meJiojPk65
— Ayuntamiento de SLP (@AytoSLP) March 10, 2018
But despite all the preparations, there is a big problem. According to reports, no group or organization has the rights to show Dragon Ball Super in public in Mexico, a fact confirmed by Toei Animation, the company behind the show.
“To the viewers and fans of Dragon Ball. We have become aware of the plans to exhibit episode # 130 of our Dragon Ball Super series in stadiums, plazas, and public places throughout Latin America,” the company said in an official announcement.
“Toei Animation has not authorized these public shows and does not support or sponsor any of these events nor do we or any of our titles endorse any institution exhibiting the unauthorized episode.
“In an effort to support copyright laws, to protect the work of thousands of persons and many labor sectors, we request that you please enjoy our titles at the official platforms and broadcasters and not support illegal screenings that incite piracy.”
Armando Cabada, mayor of Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua, was one of the first municipal officials to offer support to the episode 130 movement. He believes that since the events are non-profit, they can go ahead but others have indicated their screenings will only go ahead if they can get the necessary permission.
Crunchyroll, the US video-streaming company that holds some Dragon Ball Super rights, is reportedly trying to communicate with the establishments and organizations planning to host the events to ensure that everything remains legal and above board. At this stage, however, there’s no indication that any agreements have been reached or whether they’re simply getting in touch to deliver a warning.
One region that has already confirmed its event won’t go ahead is Mexico City. The head of the local government there told disappointed fans that since they can’t get permission from Toei, the whole thing has been canceled.
What will happen in the other locations Saturday night if licenses haven’t been obtained is anyone’s guess but thousands of disappointed fans in multiple locations raises the potential for the kind of battle the Mexican authorities can well do without, even if Dragon Ball Super thrives on them.