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On YouTube, there are partners from which we can view full anime episodes. An example is Funimation. You can watch full episodes of anime such as Full Metal Alchemist, Shakugan no Shana, Nabari Na Ou and many other animes. My question is, would this be illegal and if so why?

Also, how do you tell if an anime streaming website is legal or not? Do you decide based on the criteria "if you can watch it for free, it is illegal", because I strongly disagree with this. Sometimes, it can be legal.

Link - Funimation YouTube Channel

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There are sites which host legal material that is free. CrunchyRoll is an example of this (though there is a premium version). They do their licensing through advertising.

In this case I think it's best just to do some basic research. Sites like CrunchyRoll, Funimation, and YouTube generally have licensed materials; in the case that they don't (specifically with YouTube), it's YouTube's job to handle the legality of the embedding, not ours. Worst case scenario, they'll take down the video.

From my perspective, what we want to avoid is linking to sites that are clearly just for streaming/downloading fansubs or scanlations. These are generally unofficial (and thus unlicensed, and illegal).

So, I'd say, yes, feel free to link to channels such as Funimation's.

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  • The main problems with linking to any content are the ethical and the legal one (IANAL). Linking to a illegal site can cause legal trouble for SE (and that is why we flag and take them down) because people may think that SE is referring the linked site. And is unethical because if you consume a content, you have to pay to the content owner in some way. As キルア said, when you use one of the legal sites, the royalties are already being paid somehow. – Mindwin Sep 15 '14 at 19:56

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