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Agency for Cultural Affairs Website Accidentally Lists Manga Pirate Site URLs For 6+ Months

posted on by Kim Morrissy
Government website hastily took down list on May 16 after social media exposure

Last Tuesday, social media exposed a rather embarrassing mistake by the Japanese government's Agency for Cultural Affairs. The Sankei News reported that the agency's website, which has long been dedicated to cracking down on piracy, had accidentally made public the URLs of the top 10 most accessed manga pirate websites in Japan. The document was first unveiled last August, but the flaws were only noticed after an employee saw the topic spreading on social media on May 16. The Agency for Cultural Affairs took down the list later that day.

The agency commented: "We will absolutely implement a checking system to ensure that a similar problem does not arise in the future."

The list was first used in an information presentation on copyright aimed at education professionals. It was intended to highlight the access numbers of the top manga pirate websites in Japan, based on data from the Authorized Books of Japan (ABJ) trade group and SimilarWeb. Crucially, the list blacked out the URLs and names of the websites, but it was possible for any user to reveal the URLs by hovering their mouse over them.

Japan's Content Overseas Distribution Association (CODA) released a study in April citing losses of between 1.9 and 2.2 trillion yen (US$13.7 to 15.9 billion) in 2021 due to piracy of Japanese entertainment, including manga, anime, music, and video games. The figure marks a five-fold increase from the association's previous 2019 study. The numbers are based on market surveys and consumer questionnaires. CODA attributed the rise of piracy to people spending more time indoors due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the proliferation of streaming services.

The ABJ reported that manga piracy cost the industry a total of 1.19 trillion yen (about US$8.6 billion) during the same period. The 10 most popular manga piracy websites received approximately 240 million monthly hits from April 17, 2018 to June 2021, after the Japanese-language manga piracy site Mangamura became inaccessible. According to ABJ, the top three websites saw a 14-fold increase in views from January 2020 to April 2021. The sites reached 400 million views in October 2021.

Source: The Sankei News via Animehunch

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