AMV and copyright infringement

The Japanese culture is generally permissive with regard to the appropriation of ideas. Works such as dōjinshi, unauthorized comics continuing the story of an official comic series, are actually encouraged by many anime makers.These dōjinshi take an original copyrighted work and expand upon the story, allowing the characters to continue on after, before, or during the original story. Most anime makers encourage this practice, as it expands their series. Some see it as a tribute while others see it from a business viewpoint that it draws in more support for the anime than it would have had otherwise. Some mangaka create their own dōjinshi, such as Maki Murakami's "circle" Crocodile Ave (Gravitation).

The question has been raised of how such works can continue to exist, or such organizations to flourish, when they do so with questionable legality. The answer is that many of the Japanese authors encourage it—several of these authors began their careers with the same kinds of projects they witness anime fans working on today (ex. Clamp).

In recent years there has been an increased demand, primarily on the part of the record industry, for the removal of AMVs from sites like YouTube, Google Video, or the aggregation site, with particular regard to YouTube due to its relative popularity compared to other AMV sources, as well as its for-profit status. Musical performers and their representative record labels have been requesting the removal of some music videos from websites where they are made available for download. Public discussions and perspectives give varying accounts of exactly how widespread these actions have become. In November 2005, the administrator of was contacted by Wind-up Records, requesting the removal of content featuring the work of the bands Creed, Evanescence, and Seether. Songs on AMVs uploaded on YouTube are sometimes removed due to copyright infringement of either TV Tokyo or the Warner Music Group.

From a purely legal perspective, the creation of AMVs generally involves the infringement of one or more copyrights. However, infringement alone can be justified under the auspices of fair use if the use is transformative in nature. In many cases, the video elements of an AMV can be argued as being a transformative use, while the audio elements (in the case of whole songs) might not be; the copyright holder being able to assert that the creator is in effect redistributing an unauthorized copy of the copyright holder's work.