Anime has to be licensed by companies in other countries in order to be legally released. While anime has been licensed by its Japanese owners for use outside of Japan since at least the 1960s, the practice became well-established in the United States in the late 1970s to early 1980s, when such TV series as Gatchaman and Captain Harlock were licensed from their Japanese parent companies for distribution in the US market, often with fairly dramatic changes to the original concepts and storylines. The trend towards American distribution of anime continued into the 1980s with the licensing of titles such as Voltron and the 'creation' of new series such as Robotech through use of source material from several original series.
In the early 1990s, several companies began to experiment with the licensing of less children-oriented material. Some, such as A.D. Vision, and Central Park Media and its imprints, achieved fairly substantial commercial success and went on to become major players in the now very lucrative American anime market. Others, such as AnimEigo, achieved limited success. Many companies created directly by Japanese parent companies did not do as well, most releasing only one or two titles before completing their American operations.
Licenses are expensive, often hundreds of thousands of dollars for one series and tens of thousands for one movie. The prices vary widely; for example, Jinki: Extend cost only $91,000 to license while Kurau Phantom Memory cost $960,000. Simulcast internet streaming rights can be less expensive, with prices around $1,000-$2,000 an episode.