Crunchyroll masket Hime in a city setting

So, Is Crunchyroll Being Sued?

Here's what we know.

If you’re an anime fan who hasn’t heard of Crunchyroll, you’re simply living under a rock. Sony’s anime streaming service is one of the most important companies in the entire U.S. anime and manga market, and it’s the home of numerous iconic series, from Spy x Family to Blade Runner: Black Lotus. Simply put, if you don’t have a Crunchyroll account yet, you’re likely missing out on a lot of incredible anime opportunities.

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You might have heard rumors across X and Reddit that Crunchyroll is facing legal issues. So, is Crunchyroll being sued now? And if so, why? Here’s what you need to know about this anime platform’s legal conundrums, and how they may (or may not) affect you as a user.

So, is Crunchyroll being sued at the moment?

Technically, yes. Crunchyroll nearly faced a lengthy legal battle in a class action lawsuit, but the company avoided litigation by agreeing to a $16 million settlement case.

Chances are you found this article over this exact settlement case, as it’s one of the most widely known and discussed legal battles Crunchyroll has faced over the years. In September 2023, Crunchyroll reached a deal to pay out users who had their viewing history and identities divulged to third-parties like Facebook, Google, and Adobe. Don’t worry, Crunchyroll promised in the settlement to take good faith efforts to prevent identifiable user data from being divulged to Meta and other companies in the future (although the company “denied and continues to deny any wrongdoing whatsoever”).

Crunchyroll One Place Anime
(Crunchyroll)

In the interim, U.S. Crunchyroll users who were active on the platform from Sept. 8, 2020 to Sept. 20, 2023 may be able to receive a settlement payout at approximately $30. You have until Dec. 12, 2023 to make your claim. For more information, head to the official Kroll website for Beltran et al v. Sony Pictures Entertainment, Inc d/b/a Crunchyroll.

Eager to get your payment? The court still needs to sign off on the final agreement. The final approval hearing is slated for Dec. 19, 2023, just seven days after the claim due date. So while the lawsuit is more or less settled, one more step needs to be taken before Crunchyroll can put this case in the rearview mirror — and you can collect your cash.

Has Crunchyroll faced other lawsuits in the past?

Absolutely. In fact, Crunchyroll has been in court numerous times throughout its relatively brief history.

Long-time Crunchyroll fans may be familiar with another class action case against the company. In 2020, the company found itself in a lawsuit over its collectible anime stickers app, Digital Drops, which ran for just six months. The app’s anime stickers “were touted by Defendants as ‘rare’ and ‘highly collectible’,” the lawsuit said, per Law Street Media. According to the plaintiffs, Crunchyroll supposedly suggested Digital Drops purchases “would be online indefinitely or, at least, for a reasonable length of time from the date of release.” That case was voluntarily dismissed in 2020.

Crunchyroll Hime, punching into the air
(Crunchyroll)

Otherwise, most of Crunchyroll’s legal conundrums have involved patent infringement lawsuits. In March 2015, Rothschild Broadcast Distribution Systems sued Crunchyroll over a patented “system for media content and storage.” The case was ultimately dismissed with prejudice. Then in May 2016, Crunchyroll was sued for an alleged patent infringement for a customer order notification and tracking patent. That case was also dismissed, just a few months later. As recently as 2022, Crunchyroll was caught up in yet another patent infringement lawsuit with Preservation Technologies LLC over a video distribution patent followed by the latter. In 2023, the two reached a settlement.

Lawsuits, whether frivolous or with merit, are commonly waged against major companies. That includes Sony brands like Crunchyroll. While most of Crunchyroll’s legal issues have nothing to do with consumers, for many, the privacy class action case is enough to cause anime fans to question their Crunchyroll subscription. And maybe for good reason.

(featured image: Crunchyroll)


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Author
Image of Ana Valens
Ana Valens
Ana Valens (she/her) is a reporter specializing in queer internet culture, online censorship, and sex workers' rights. Her book "Tumblr Porn" details the rise and fall of Tumblr's LGBTQ-friendly 18+ world, and has been hailed by Autostraddle as "a special little love letter" to queer Tumblr's early history. She lives in Brooklyn, NY, with her ever-growing tarot collection.
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