Wall Street Journal Reports on Manga Piracy

posted on by Gia Manry
Financial newspaper speaks to Japanese, U.S. publishers, scanlation site admins

The Wall Street Journal (WSJ), a New York-based international financial and business newspaper, reported on its Japan Real Time site today about efforts being taken by manga publishers in Japan and the United States to combat manga piracy. In the piece, the WSJ spoke with Ioannis Mentzas and Hiroki Sakai, editorial director and president, respectively, of American manga publisher Vertical, Inc. The reporter, Tomomichi Amano, also spoke with the administrators of a scanlation website, who spoke anonymously and offered that for a little while, publishers were happy to use scanlations as "a 'free' way for a publisher to see what was viable to license and bring over."

Amano talked with Yuichiro Numagaki, a spokesman for Japanese publisher Kadokawa Group Publishing's legal department, who said that his company had identified between 1,000 and 1,500 titles that had been illegally scanlated. Vertical's Mentzas said that to combat this, the industry had to move as a whole, or else "the FBI won't move." The Japanese government's Intellectual Property Strategy Headquarters (IPSH) had been focusing primarily on copyright violation in China until a recently formed coalition of American and Japanese manga publishers came to them. An IPSH representative said that the organization has not determined enough about infringement in the United States to act at this time.

As announced on June 8, the coalition unites the Digital Comic Association — 36 Japanese manga publishers — with American manga publishers and other companies with a stake in manga in America, such as Viz Media, Tokyopop, Vertical, the Tuttle-Mori Agency, Yen Press, and Square Enix. In the two weeks after the coalition's formation, manga aggregator MangaHelpers shut down and previewed OpenManga, a legal manga distribution platform. MangaFox, a second aggregator, removed links to over 350 manga series from its site, although the actual content in some cases remain on the site, and some links were later restored or uploaded again.

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