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4 Japanese Publishers Dismiss Lawsuit Against 'Mangamura Successor' Sites

posted on by Jennifer Sherman
Shueisha, Kodansha, Kadokawa, Shogakukan noted difficulties in identifying defendants

Judge Lewis J. Liman of the New York Southern District Court dismissed Shueisha, Kodansha, Kadokawa, and Shogakukan's joint lawsuit against the unnamed administrators of website Hoshi no Romi and three other United States-hosted websites on May 11.

The four Japanese publishers had filed a notice of voluntary dismissal on May 8. The publishers' notice added, "Plaintiffs continue to pursue civil and criminal means of enforcing their rights, and may re-file this litigation should defendants' infringing activities recommence or if it is otherwise necessary."

The court had granted the publishers' request on November 20 to conduct expedited discovery on the identities of the defendants and complete service of process via email. However, the publishers' subsequent legal filings noted difficulties in determining the identities of the operators of Hoshi no Romi. The publishers had served subpoenas to internet companies to obtain records that could identify the site's administrators and later worked with a consulting company to analyze the data.

Due to "given Defendants efforts to conceal their identities and avoid service," the publishers' lawyer requested on February 25 a 90-day extension to complete service of process. The court accepted the request, which gave the publishers until May 20 to complete service of process. The publishers then filed a motion for Michael J. Druckman to withdraw as their attorney on March 16, and he was "terminated" as of May 1.

The publishers had filed the lawsuit on September 4. The plaintiffs claimed that Hoshi no Romi and three other websites, which allegedly hosted over 93,000 scanned volumes of manga, were successors to Japanese manga piracy website Mangamura, and were thus violating copyrights and earning profit from it. The companies were seeking damages and the closure of the sites.

Hoshi no Romi appears to be named after Romi Hoshino, a.k.a. Zakay Romi, an alleged administrator of Mangamura. The four sites being sued were inaccessible as of mid-September. Hoshino was extradited to Japan later in September.

The Japanese-language manga piracy site Mangamura became inaccessible in April 2018. Japanese publishers had filed criminal complaints against the website in summer through fall 2017, and Japanese authorities revealed in May 2018 that they were actively investigating Mangamura. Besides Hoshino, police made several other arrests related to uploading unauthorized images on the site.

Thanks to Mikhail Koulikov for the news tip.

Source: PACER

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