The Cybercrime Division of Kumamoto Prefectural Police announced the arrests of two foreign nationals on suspicion of copyright infringement on Feb 4, 2024.
The suspects have been revealed to be a 36-year-old company president of Japan Deal World, Musa Samir, from Shinjuku, Tokyo, and a 34-year-old company employee from Tokyo. Some reports suggest that a third foreign national too has been arrested along with these two.
They have been arrested on the suspicion of leaking images of manga published in Weekly Shonen Jump on the internet, which was then translated to multiple foreign languages including English and reposted on various sites.
According the police, the charges against the suspects include:
- Conspiring to upload the latest chapter of a manga series serialized in “Weekly Shonen Jump” to an internet site before the magazine’s release date on or around March 15, 2023.
- Infringing the copyright of the author by taking a picture of the latest chapter of the author’s work with a smartphone and making a copy a few days before the magazine’s release date at around 11:30 a.m. on January 31, 2024.
Both the suspects have denied the first charge, however they admitted the second one.
The police have confirmed that popular works currently being serialized, such as One Piece and Jujutsu Kaisen were posted on several other websites prior to the release of the weekly magazine, and are investigating whether the two were involved.
The suspects are believed to have acquired the magazines at a store in Tokyo prior to their release dates. The Kumamoto Police revealed that Samir’s company is involved in dealing with Jump and related goods and that they obtained the copy of Jump before its release to sell at their own company.
In some cases, the scanned images were modified to make them appear as if they were not scanned from a paper magazine, but the publishers have confirmed that no electronic data was leaked from the publishers.
Phones and PCs have been confiscated in connection to the crime, and the Kumamoto Police also revealed the screenshots of the leaks, which include Jujutsu Kaisen chapter 236 in their press conference. Some fans pointed out that the images from the press conference could be from popular Jujutsu Kaisen leaker Mya.
The police also plan to send the company to the public prosecutors’ office on charges of copyright infringement. They are also investigating other people who could have been connected to this incident.
Commenting on the arrests, Shueisha said that it hoped this will deter any such incidents in the future.
“We will continue to proactively take all possible measures to protect the works and the rights of the authors, who have put their heart and soul into their creations, so that readers can enjoy their manga in an appropriate manner.“
Since the images that are posted on social networking sites often show up for many users are recommendations, even those not looking to get spoiled, Shueish revealed that one point they received more than 1000 complaints from readers in a span of nearly a week, including those which suggested that they will stop their subscription of Jump if this continued.
The publisher also pointed out that they were aware of leakers who posted images of manga from the magazine on social media platforms including Twitter/X and deleted them immediately to avoid copyright strikes.
“We have been requesting the operators of SNS to delete the images, but in many cases, the posters delete the images before we can make the request, or they take other measures to avoid having their accounts suspended or frozen,” said Miya Tomishige, manager of the Intellectual Property Department at Shueisha. “As a result, we are often unable to keep up with the situation.”
Following the arrests, popular leakers including Scanpeia and OPScans have shut down their SNS site and websites respectively.