Fansubbing—the unofficial creation of fan-made subtitles for TV shows and movies—is illegal, a Dutch court ruled this week.
The Free Subtitles Foundation, after coming under fire from the Netherlands’ anti-piracy association BREIN which had been stepping up its activity against fansub websites, decided to take BREIN to court. The Foundation’s lawyer told TorrentFreak that the lawsuit sought to clarify whether the creators of a TV show or movie can reserve the right to create and distribute subtitles.
And indeed, that’s exactly what the court ruled: that subtitles can only be created and distributed with permission from the rights holders. Doing so without permission is copyright infringement, and thus punishable with either jail time or a fine, depending on where you live.