Police Search Square Enix Due to Manga Allegedly Violating SNK's Copyrights
posted on by Egan Loo
The Osaka Police's Consumer and Economic Crime Division searched the Tokyo headquarters of manga and game publisher Square Enix, as well as other locations linked to the publisher, on Tuesday. The police is investigating alleged copyright violations — specifically, the use of another company's popular game characters without permission in a manga series.
According to the investigation, Rensuke Oshikiri's Hi Score Girl (High Score Girl) manga allegedly features over 100 instances of characters from The King of Fighters, Samurai Spirits (Samurai Shodown), and other fighting games owned by Osaka-based game company SNK Playmore. The Osaka Police will be investigating the confiscated materials and is planning to have the manga's editor at Square Enix and the manga's creator himself voluntarily questioned.
The story of the "'90s arcade romantic comedy" manga begins in 1991, during the heyday of the 2D fighting game boom. Sixth-grader Haruo spends practically his entire day at an arcade in the seedy part of town, oblivious to the world around him. However, one day at his usual arcade, he encounters Akira, his female classmate with good grades and money. She may look out of place at the arcade, but she is actually a top-class gamer. Akira completely outmatches Haruo in one Street Fighter II round after another, and their relationship develops from this unlikely encounter.
The endnotes of the manga's compiled book volumes includes a copyright notice that lists SNK and various other companies, complete with the © mark — giving the appearance that the manga received consent for its use of these characters.
Around last summer, a production company in Tokyo's Kanto area contacted SNK about permission to use the game company's characters and sounds for an anime adaptation of Hi Score Girl. That led to SNK discovering the allegedly unauthorized use of its copyrighted materials in the manga. SNK then filed a complaint with the Osaka Police this past May.
SNK issued a news release on the criminal investigation on Wednesday. The company emphasized that it repeatedly requested Square Enix to immediately halt the sales of Hi Score Girl's digital release, print volumes, monthly magazine serialization, and other releases. However, SNK asserted that it did not receive any kind of sincere response.
Therefore, SNK said that it had to file criminal charges against Square Enix and the staff in its publishing departments under Article 119, Section 1 of the Copyright Law of Japan. SNK states that it will take firm measures against future copyright violations to protect its game and characters, which still enjoy worldwide popularity due to Metal Slug Defense and other recently popular titles.
Oshikiri launched the manga in Square Enix's Big Gangan magazine in 2010, and Square Enix published the fifth compiled book volume of the manga in December.