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Trade Group: Manga Pirate Sites Cost Industry 1.19 Trillion Yen in 2021

posted on by Kim Morrissy
Authorized Books of Japan (ABJ) says manga piracy has soared in popularity since the start of the pandemic

Sankei News reported on Saturday that according to the Authorized Books of Japan (ABJ), a Tokyo-based association working to crack down on pirated manga, manga piracy cost the industry a total of 1.19 trillion yen (approximately US$8.76 billion) in 2021. This represents a sharp increase of 4.8 times over the past two years, while official sales only increased by 1.6 times over the same period (or 612 billion yen/US$5.33 billion) according to The Research Institute for Publications).

According to the ABJ, there are now approximately 900 manga piracy websites. The group investigated the 10 most popular sites and found that the total view number across the year was 3.76 billion, a 2.5 times increase over the past two years. The ABJ only calculated loss of revenue through the number of page views through the websites (not counting downloads).

In November, the Japanese-language pirate website Manga Bank became inaccessible after four publishers, including Shueisha, asked the California District Court to disclose evidence to identify and prosecute another party for copyright infringement. However, the ABJ believes that the site has changed its name and is still active.

The NHK reported in November that visits to illegal manga websites rose sharply during the pandemic. The news service stated that an industry association calculated that visits to illegal manga websites went from 61 million per month in January 2020 to 398 million per month in October 2021. The same association claimed that financial damages to Japanese publishers from the period of January to October 2021 are estimated to be US$6.9 billion.

According to market data analyzer Similarweb, more than 81 million people access Manga Bank monthly, making it the 44th most popular site in Japan. Manga Bank is currently offline, with a message saying that it is closed due to "server maintenance costs."

Manga Bank emerged as a leading manga pirate website in Japan after the closure of the Japanese-language manga piracy site Mangamura in April 2018. Romi Hoshino, a.k.a. Zakay Romi, the alleged administrator of Mangamura, was sentenced in June to three years in prison, a fine of 10 million yen (about US$91,100), and an additional fine of 62 million yen (about US$565,000). The latter is based on the 62 million yen in revenue that Hoshino earned from the site and deposited to a foreign bank account.

The ABJ reported last June that the 10 most popular manga piracy websites are receiving approximately 240 million monthly hits since Mangamura became inaccessible.

Comparatively, ABJ tallied that Mangamura gained up to 100 million views a month when it was active.

Asahi Shimbun stated that damage to the manga industry temporarily declined after Mangamura shut down, but the number of manga piracy websites increased in fall 2019. According to ABJ, the top three websites saw a 14-fold increase in views from January 2020 to April 2021.

The head of public relations and legal department of ABJ Atsushi Ito (who also is in charge of anti-piracy measures at Shueisha) stated, “Things are even worse than when Mangamura was at its heyday.” Ito suggested the increase "may have resulted from 'stay-at-home lifestyles'" during the pandemic.

Shueisha currently files approximately 10 criminal complaints a year and issues about 120,000 monthly requests to websites, server operators, and other related parties demanding those sites delete works that violate its copyright.

Source: Sankei News

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