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Japanese Government Officially Asks Internet Providers to Block Manga Piracy Sites

posted on by Crystalyn Hodgkins
Government names 3 targeted websites, plans legislation to block sites in 2019

The Mainichi Shimbun newspaper reported on Friday that the Japanese government has officially asked Internet service providers in Japan to block access to websites that host pirated manga, digital magazines, and other copyrighted content.

The request asks the providers to voluntarily block access, but the government plans to create new legislation in 2019 to expand the scope of site-blocking. Currently, the site-blocking law is only applicable to child pornography.

The government said it is currently targeting three sites (Mangamura, AniTube!, and MioMio), adding that if it finds new websites, it will set up a consultation body made up of service providers and experts to decide on how to respond. According to The Mainichi Shimbun, Mangamura attracts more than 100 million readers monthly.

The government also plans to submit a bill to the Diet aimed at restricting "leech sites," which aggregate and provide links to other sites that host pirated content.

The government had stated earlier this month that it planned to officially ask the providers to block the sites. According to The Mainichi Shimbun, the hit counts on the three pirated sites has increased since last August when the sites became more well known. Sales of digital comics in Japan began to drop in the same month, after seeing a steady rise since 2012.

The Mainichi Shimbun previously noted that there is no clear legal precedent for asking providers to block access to the websites, and that the move may prove unconstitutional due to violating privacy of communication and functioning as censorship. Article 21 of The Constitution of Japan states, "Freedom of assembly and association as well as speech, press and all other forms of expression are guaranteed. No censorship shall be maintained, nor shall the secrecy of any means of communication be violated."

The government plans to use the argument that pirated content harms publishers and content creators, and that the site-blocking would be allowed under the "averting present danger" article of Japan's Penal Code.

Japan's Content Overseas Distribution Association (CODA) has told the government that between September 2017 and February, piracy has inflicted an estimated amount of more than 400 billion yen (about US$3.72 billion) worth of damage to copyright holders in Japan.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga (pictured above right) previously announced at a press conference on March 19 that the government is considering all possible ways to combat manga pirate sites, including site blocking.

Source: The Mainichi

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