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Developer: 30% of Kodansha Manga Rejected by iTunes

posted on by Egan Loo
Voyager head cites rejection of Hataraki Man manga, calls DRM an "illusion"

The ZDNet Japan website posted the second part of an interview with Masaaki Hagino, the president of the e-book development company Voyager Japan, on Thursday. While the first part dealt with the overall trends of e-books, the second part dealt with the digital rights management (DRM) and censorship issues that his company faced while releasing e-manga. Hagino and his company advocated a shift away from copy protection, and he described DRM as an "illusion" for the flawed sense of security it provides. He added that DRM is being pushed by the paper-based publishers, but noted that the pirated copies on the net are being scanned from DRM-less, paper-based books and magazines anyways.

Hagino also discussed the issue of censorship, specifically on Apple's iTunes Store. He pointed out that even though scenes of blood-splattering would be allowed in comic books in Japan, the fading but still active Comics Code of the American industry would have disallowed them. About 30% of the Kodansha comics that Voyager adapted into iPhone apps were rejected by the iTunes Store. According to Hagino, "a scene where a character is bleeding not because of violence, but because of a disease might be labeled as excessive cruelty."

Hagino cited the specific example of Hataraki Man, Moyoco Anno's non-erotic manga about a female editor. One chapter was rejected because the editor character accidentally exposed her breasts while getting a massage. He added, "Basically all manga with [office ladies] as main characters have bathing scenes. They can't be shown taking showers. Not even baths — they're still topless." (Kodansha posted Hataraki Man in the iTunes Store in the summer of 2008, but only the first seven installments, split across four apps, are available.)

While discussing the ZDNet Japan article on Twitter, the manga and anime creator Yoshitoshi ABe (Serial Experiments Lain, Haibane Renmei) said on Thursday that one of his works was rejected because of a particular image. ABe was one of the earliest manga creators to post apps on the iTunes Store.

The Reuters news service and the Mainichi Shimbun paper posted reports this past week on how the Japanese publishing industry is responding to the upcoming e-book reader launches from Apple and other companies in Japan. 31 Japanese publishers, including the top three companies Kodansha, Shogakukan, and Shueisha, have established the Electronic Book Publishers Association of Japan to control the distribution of digital books in the country.

[Via Eastern Standard, Ko Ransom]

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