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14-Year-Old Arrested for Leaking Manga on YouTube (Update 6)

posted on by Egan Loo
Japanese boy allegedly posted One Piece, Naruto, Gintama before release dates

Kyoto's High-Tech Crime Task Force and other police units have arrested a 14-year-old middle-school student on Monday for allegedly distributing One Piece and other manga on the YouTube website before the manga's official release dates. The unnamed male suspect comes from Nagoya in Aichi Prefecture southwest of Tokyo. According to the police, this is Japan's first arrest for alleged copyright infringement on YouTube.

The teenager is suspected of uploading One Piece, Naruto, Major, and one other work as videos between December 22, 2009 and February 9, 2010. The suspect reportedly admitted to photographing the manga, page by page, and uploading the images as videos without authorization. The police are investigating the details of how the suspect obtained the manga before release.

The America-based YouTube is the world's most-visited video-sharing website. Over 10 million people use the site in Japan alone. The public relations department of Shueisha, the publisher of the Weekly Shonen Jump magazine that runs One Piece and Naruto, told the Yomiuri Shimbun paper, "These acts of copyright infringement are truly regrettable. To protect manga culture and the rights of manga creators, we're taking every available measure."

Sources: Mainichi Shimbun, Yomiuri Shimbun

Update: In May of 2007, Kyoto's High-Tech Crime Task Force and other cooperating authorities arrested three male suspects in Tokyo, Morioka, and Osaka, and searched their homes for unauthorized file-sharing of manga before release. One of those arrested was a 17-year-old Tokyo student who allegedly uploaded Weekly Shonen Jump every week on the Thursday before the official Monday release date from February 15 to April 5, 2007. All three reportedly used the Winny peer-to-peer file-sharing network to distribute the scanned manga.

Japan's Copyright Law prohibits unauthorized uploaders but expressly allowed people to download for private use until this year. Last June, the Japanese parliament passed an amendment that will make it illegal to knowingly download copyrighted material without authorization for the first time. The new law went into effect on January 1, 2010.

The years of the alleged copyright infringement have been corrected in the article above. Thanks, Twilightmaster and Kurisu-kun.

Update 2: According to what the police told the Sports Nippon newspaper, the suspect used the Twitter social networking site to announce the four times he is known to have uploaded manga.

Update 3: According to the Asahi Shimbun paper, the fourth manga that the 14-year-old suspect uploaded frame-by-frame was Gintama, another Weekly Shonen Jump manga title. Major runs in Shogakukan's Weekly Shonen Sunday magazine.

Update 4: According to the police in a Mainichi Shimbun paper report, the suspect allegedly uploaded 118 manga installments from 30 works in Weekly Shonen Jump and Weekly Shonen Sunday from December of 2009 to this month. The resulting videos were accessed over 8 million times. The videos were usually posted four to five days before the magazines' official release dates, although the special New Year's issues were posted nine days before.

The suspect reportedly maintained a "Netabare Jōhō Kyoku" blog and Twitter account to announce his uploads to his various YouTube channels. A "Manga Netabare Jōhō Kyoku" ("Manga Spoiler Intelligence Agency") blog has been shut down, but its affiliated Twitter account and at least one YouTube channel are both still active. 47 News reports that the blog was co-maintained by a 15-year-old high school freshman from the southwestern prefecture of Saga and another 14-year-old middle school student from the southwestern prefecture of Okinawa. 47 News also posted a photograph of the manga magazines, notebook computers, and game consoles confiscated from the suspect's home.

Update 5: According to the Sports Hochi newspaper, the Kyoto police multiplied the cost of a magazine issue (240-260 yen or US$2.60-US$2.85) times the number of YouTube views (over 8 million times) to estimate the damages caused at about 2 billion yen (US$22 million). The police's damage estimate has not been verified by independent experts.

Update 6: According to the Sankei Shimbun paper's source with the investigation, the suspect said in a deposition that he wanted people to see his blogs. According to the source, the blogs earned money from advertising for hair tonics, apartment rentals, and other products and services. The suspect was allegedly able to earn over 100,000 yen (about US$1,100) this way, and he reportedly used the funds to purchase a personal computer.

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