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Police in 2 Prefectures Investigate Mangamura Pirate Site After 4 Japanese Publishers File Criminal Charges

posted on by Crystalyn Hodgkins
Newspaper: Kodansha, other publishers file complaints on behalf of Hajime Isayama, Eiichiro Oda

Police in both Fukuoka and Oita prefectures are actively investigating the Mangamura pirate website after Kodansha and three other publishers filed criminal complaints with the police departments in summer through fall last year, according to reports by both The Mainichi Shimbun and The Asahi Shimbun newspapers on Monday.

According to The Mainichi Shimbun's sources, Kodansha and the other publishers claimed that Mangamura violated their copyright, and the publishers filed the complaints on behalf of manga artists who are the copyright holders of the works, including Hajime Isayama (Attack on Titan) and Eiichiro Oda (One Piece). The publishers filed the criminal complaints against an unknown suspect(s). When the newspaper reached out to Kodansha, Kodansha confirmed that it filed a criminal complaint, but did not confirm for whom the complaint was filed. Shueisha and other publishers declined to provide details of the case to The Mainichi Shimbun.

The Mainichi Shimbun stated that according to an expert, a production company based in the Seychelles owns the domain for Mangamura. The newspaper also reported that a domain of a different website owned by that company led investigators to a U.S. company apparently founded by a Japanese man. Investigators told the newspaper they were aware of this development and are "stepping up their investigations" to find the developer of Mangamura.

Mangamura launched in January 2016, and became inaccessible on April 17.

The Japanese government officially asked Internet service providers in Japan to block access to three pirated manga websites including Mangamura on April 13. The request asked 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.

A lawyer in Saitama then filed a case against a unit of Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corporation (NTT) at the Tokyo District Court later in April. The lawyer claimed in the case that NTT's action is allegedly a violation of the Telecommunications Business Act, and constitutes a violation of privacy of communication, due to the action implying that NTT is aware of the content that its users access.

According to Japan's Content Overseas Distribution Association (CODA), between September 2017 and February, users accessed Mangamura about 620 million times. The association estimated that this caused 319.2 billion yen (about US$2.92 billion) worth of damage to copyright holders in Japan during that time.

Sources: The Mainichi (Reiko Oka, Ikuko Ando, Takashi Miyazaki), The Asahi Shimbun

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