In July, Romi Hoshino, also known as Zakay Romi, was arrested in the Philippines in connection with his role as administrator of Manga Mura, the now-defunct website which was the highest-profile provider of pirated Japanese-language comics. With Manga Mura now shut down, though, manga publishers are now turning their attention to other pirate sites.
Japanese publishers Shueisha (publisher of Weekly Shonen Jump), Kodansha (Shonen Magazine), Shogakkan (Shonen Sunday), and Kadokawa (Shonen Ace) have jointly filed a lawsuit against four websites that the publishers are calling “successor sites” to Manga Mura. One of the sites, Hoshinoromi.org, even shares Romi’s name (in Japanese, family name-first order), though it’s unclear if Hoshino himself was personally involved with the site or not.
Japanese publishers protecting their intellectual property online is nothing new, but what is unusual is that all four sites designated in the lawsuit are U.S.-hosted, despite the sites’ interfaces and manga content all being in untranslated Japanese. As a result, the lawsuit has been filed in New York district court, not in Japan. The lawsuit seeks damages for what the publishers are calling “willful and massive [copyright] infringement” (one site hosted over 93,000 volumes of pirated manga) and the shut-down of the sites, none of which remain accessible since the filing of the suit.
Those with a more lenient stance towards manga and anime piracy may disagree with devoting time and energy to going after Manga Mura “successor sites,” under the logic that such actions will only lead to a need to go after the successor sites’ inevitable own successor sites. The New York Lawsuit, though, as well as Hoshino’s arrest, show that even if fighting online piracy is a game of whack-a-mole, Japanese publishers are willing to swing their mallets all the way across the ocean.
Sources: Nihon Keizai Shimbun via Anime News Network/Rafael Antonio Pineda, The Japan Times
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