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Ashita no Joe Manga Creator, JCA Ask Fans to Avoid Pirate Sites

posted on by Jennifer Sherman

NHK's News Web site posted the first part of a multi-article report about manga piracy websites on Monday. The report included comments from Ashita no Joe manga creator Tetsuya Chiba and a statement from the Japan Cartoonists Association (JCA) that Chiba chairs. The JCA also posted its statement on its official website on Wednesday.

Chiba told NHK in an interview:

I'm very glad manga is read in various forms. I'm thankful, but if [manga] is read on pirate sites, it won't become compiled volumes, and magazines won't sell. If that happens, doing various research and collecting materials will become impossible. Even if they have good ideas, good characters, and produce interesting stories, it's actually happening that manga creators can't continue [creating].

Chiba added that reading manga on pirate sites particularly impacts young creators. He said young manga creators are "steadily 'dying'" due to the phenomenon. He asked people not to read manga on pirate sites.

The JCA's statement on manga piracy discussed the expansion of the digital market. The group said that its members are pleased that people are enjoying their works and described creators and readers as forming a circle. However, the statement continued, "Unfortunately, recently cases of we creators being driven outside that circle are increasing. Instead, the reality is that pirate sites that do not participate at all in production efforts are devouring profits." The JCA believes that if people continue to use pirate sites, "various aspects of Japanese culture will lose strength" and could ultimately be destroyed.

The NHK article said that, according to Video Research Interactive, the number of people using pirate sites has recently had a sharp increase. Video Research Interactive stated that that number began to increase in October, and by December of last year, about 230,000 people were using pirate sites. Among users, about 42% were in their teens, about 21% were in their 40s, and about 19% were in their 50s.

According to NHK, the legal market for digital manga has also been expanding for several years. The All Japan Magazine and Book Publisher's and Editor's Association (AJPEA) reported that the digital manga market earned 171.1 billion yen (about US$1.59 billion) in 2017. However, Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry stated in a 2014 report that piracy had cost an estimated 50 billion yen (about US$464 million), and the agency had concern that the damage would worsen.

NHK's article referenced the problems of copyright violations associated with pirate sites. While reproducing and distributing written materials without permission is illegal in Japan, only reading pirated manga is generally not seen as unlawful. In addition, NHK cited cybersecurity concerns related to pirate websites and noted that pirate sites sometimes contain programming that may harm users' devices.

Sales of physical manga compiled book volumes fell about 12% in Japan last year. However, not all manga creators believe that targeting pirate sites is the most useful response to declining sales. Yareta kamo Iinkai (The Almost Got Laid Committee) manga creator Takashi Yoshida believes publishers' attacks on pirate websites are "completely meaningless and counterproductive." He thinks that advancing authorized online manga services may encourage more fans to read digital manga through legal sources.

Source: NHK (link 2, link 3; 田辺幹夫, 西村敏) via Yaraon!

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