The Tokyo District Court fined two advertising companies, MM Lab (Yokohama City) and Global Net (Ota-ku, Tokyo), 11 million yen (about US$96,303) on Dec 21, 2021, for soliciting advertisements on the Japanese-language manga pirate website Mangamura.
Love Hina creator, Ken Akamatsu, filed a lawsuit against both agencies, saying that his works Negima! and UQ Holder! were illegally placed on Mangamura since June 2017. According to his attorney-at-law, this was the first time an advertising firm was found accountable for manga piracy.
Judge Kо̄ichi Tanaka concluded that since Mangamura infringes copyright through piracy, the agencies that pay the website operator’s advertisement fee also aid in copyright infringement.
The Fukuoka District Court found Romi Hoshino a.k.a. Zakay Romi, the alleged administrator of now-closed manga piracy site, Mangamura, guilty on June 30, 2021, on charges of copyright infringement and hiding criminal proceeds. The Court has sentenced Hoshino to three years in prison and two fines- one for 10 million yen ($91,000) and another for 62,000,000 yen ($565,000) earned from the site and deposited to a foreign bank account.
Shueisha held a press conference after the ruling, with a spokesperson saying the court’s decision was befitting.
Mangamura launched in 2016 and within two years, it was already under investigation by Japanese authorities after complaints from major manga publishers. Hoshino, a Japanese citizen, relocated to the Philippines in 2019, and the Japanese government created a special task force to track him down.
Around 100 million people accessed Mangamura each month, and the site made around 60,000 manga available free of charge.
According to a previous report, the Japanese government officially asked internet service providers in Japan to block access to three pirated manga websites including Mangamura in April 2018. Mangamura became inaccessible on April 17, 2018.
However, the Asahi Shimbun newspaper reported on the same day that the site did not shut down due to site-blocking from Internet service providers. According to the newspaper’s source from a service provider, the action could not be performed by anyone aside from the site’s administrators.
Mainichi News previously reported that the Content Overseas Distribution Association(CODA) estimated that between September 2017 and February 2018, users accessed Mangamura about 620 million times. The association estimated that this caused damage of 319.2 billion yen($2.93 billion) in copyright violation, making it the worst copyright violation in Japanese history.