3 Administrators for 'Haruka Yume no Ato' Manga Linking Site Found Guilty

posted on by Rafael Antonio Pineda
3 suspects serve different sentences ranging from 2-3.5 years in length

The Osaka District Court handed down a guilty verdict to three site administrators of the "Haruka Yume no Ato" "leech site" accused of copyright infringement on Thursday. The three men received three different prison sentence lengths: three years and six months, three years, and two years and four months, all without suspended sentences.

In October 2017, nine prefectural police departments in Japan worked together and arrested nine suspects for violating the Copyright Act with the website "Haruka Yume no Ato" (pictured above), one of the largest leech sites (sites that aggregate and provide hyperlinks to pirated media) in Japan. While the site itself was not illegal under the current law, the operators were arrested for distributing the pirated media for which the site provided links. Publishers Kadokawa, Kodansha, Shueisha, Shogakukan, Square Enix, and Hakusensha worked together on the case.

The Association of Copyright for Computer Software estimated that the "Haruka Yume no Ato" website at the time of the arrest had caused 73.1 billion yen (about US$640 million) in damage through lost sales.

The Mainichi Shimbun reported in October 2018 that Japan's Agency for Cultural Affairs intends to ban leech sites through revisions in the Copyright Act this year.

The Mainichi Shimbun reported last April that the Japanese government was planning to submit a bill to the Diet to restrict leech sites. The same month, the government asked internet service providers to voluntarily block websites that hosted pirated content. The government reportedly also plans to create new legislation to expand the scope of site-blocking this year.

Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corporation (NTT) complied by blocking three websites with pirated content. However, a Saitama prefecture lawyer filed a case against the company for doing so, claiming the move was a violation of the Telecommunications Business Act, which states, "No communications being handled by a telecommunications carrier shall be censored."

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) asserted to the government that between September 2017 and February 2018, 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.

Sources: Animation Business Journal (Tadashi Sudo), Kodansha

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