Major Japanese publishers are planning to file a criminal complaint against the operator of one of the country’s most popular illegal manga-viewing websites. They are now able to identify the operator thanks to a US court decision.
Four publishers, including Shueisha, have accused the pirate website “Manga Bank” of infringing on their intellectual property rights. They claim the operator placed all of their Mangas and magazine pages on the website without their authorization.
In October, Shueisha sued a US court to order Google and other Internet companies to reveal information on the operator. It was looking for the operator’s name, address, phone number, IP address, and other information.
On November 5th, the California Court instructed Google and other internet platforms to reveal the necessary information. Since then, Manga Bank has been offline.
The Manga industry has been tormented by illegal sites uploading Manga without authorization and the battle against piracy continues to go full-fledged.
“Manga-mura,” or manga village, was previously Japan’s largest unlicensed manga website. Its operator was sentenced to three years in jail in June for copyright breaches and other offenses.
Manga Bank then took the position of Manga-mura. In one month, the site was accessed approximately 81 million times. According to the Authorized Books of Japan, a piracy-fighting organization, Manga literature worth at least 208.2 billion yen ($1.8 billion) has been freely viewed since Manga Bank debuted in late 2019. However, it was shuttered in early November.
In addition to the criminal charge, the four publishers intend to file a damages case.
Before filing the case on Manga Bank, Shueisha used a Digital Millennium Copyright Act subpoena to obtain information from the network infrastructure company Cloudflare.
They learned through Cloudflare that domains allegedly used by Manga Bank were hosted by Hurricane Electric. Furthermore, Manga Bank allegedly used Google services, such as a Gmail address and an AdSense account. The associated Internet Protocol (IP) addresses are linked to China as well.
Ito Atsushi, a Shueisha executive, said that a publisher’s job is to protect works that authors have committed their lives to make and to provide them to readers in suitable shape. Ito has promised to combat piracy websites.
According to Nakajima Hiroyuki, one of the publishers’ lawyers, owners of piracy websites can be found by initiating legal action, even if they use overseas servers.
He went on to say that he expects that taking legal action in the Manga Bank issue will dissuade people from running unlawful websites.
NHK world Japan reported that access to unlicensed manga websites increased dramatically during the outbreak. According to the news service, an industry organization projected that monthly visits to unlawful manga websites increased from 61 million in January 2020 to 398 million in October 2021.
According to the same organization, financial damages to Japanese publishers from January to October 2021 are anticipated to be US$6.9 billion.
Similarweb, a market data analyzer website, mentioned that over 81 million visitors visit Manga Bank on a monthly basis, ranking it as the 44th most popular website in Japan. Manga Bank is now unavailable, with a message stating that it is shut down owing to “server maintenance charges.”
After the collapse of the Japanese-language manga piracy site Mangamura in April 2018, Manga Bank emerged as a prominent manga pirate website in Japan.
Romi Hoshino, a.k.a. Zakay Romi, the putative administrator of Mangamura, was sentenced in June to three years in jail, a punishment of 10 million yen (approximately US$91,100), and an extra fine of 62 million yen (about US$565,000).