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4 Japanese Publishers Sue Cloudflare for 460 Million Yen

posted on by Rafael Antonio Pineda
Publishers allege that Cloudflare offered data services to piracy websites

Japanese publishers Kodansha, Shueisha, Shogakukan, and Kadokawa formally filed their planned lawsuit against the American Internet infrastructure company Cloudflare on Tuesday.

The lawsuit alleges that Cloudflare distributes data for manga piracy sites that infringe on the publishers' copyrights, and it seeks an injunction and about 460 million yen (about US$4 million) in compensation for damages.

Kodansha alleges in its announcement of the lawsuit that Cloudflare's policy of only requiring an email address to register for free allows piracy sites to hide their identity, and that Cloudflare has allowed multiple piracy sites collecting advertising revenue to operate.

In previous reports by the Asahi Shimbun newspaper and the Kyodo news service, their sources claimed that Cloudflare has contracts with major piracy sites to distribute data from servers within Japan, even though the piracy sites' administrators are located overseas. The sites allegedly distribute about 4,000 titles (including such popular ones as One Piece, Attack on Titan, and Kingdom) and receive over 300 million accesses a month.


Among other services, Cloudflare can act as an intermediary between a server and its end users, delivering content even when the original server is facing connection issues or distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks.

The Japanese-language manga piracy site Mangamura became inaccessible in April 2018, after Japanese publishers had filed criminal complaints against the website from summer to fall of 2017. Japanese authorities confirmed in May 2018 that they were actively investigating Mangamura. Police have since made several arrests related to uploading unauthorized images on the site.

Kadokawa, Kodansha, Shueisha, and Shogakukan's lawyers then filed a motion with the Tokyo District Court in August 2018, requesting Cloudflare to stop hosting content for several piracy websites. According to the motion, the manga piracy websites for which Cloudflare had offered services included Hoshi no Romi, an apparent "Mangamura successor" website.

Shuppan Kōhō Center announced in February 2020 that Kodansha, Shueisha, Shogakukan, and Kadokawa had reached a settlement with Cloudflare in June 2019. Cloudflare agreed to stop caching content on its Japanese servers from specified piracy websites if the Tokyo District Court deems that the sites are infringing on copyrights.

The same four publishers then filed a lawsuit in New York Southern District Court in September 2019 against the unnamed administrators of website Hoshi no Romi and three other United States-hosted websites. The plaintiffs claimed that the sites hosted over 93,000 scanned volumes of manga.

Japanese publisher Takeshobo and a male manga creator filed a lawsuit with the Tokyo District Court against Cloudflare in January 2020. The lawsuit alleged that Cloudflare was complicit in copyright infringement by offering its services to manga piracy sites.

In November 2021, a California District Court allowed Shueisha to request Google and other Internet firms to disclose the operators of Japanese-language pirate website Manga Bank. Shueisha had previously subpoenaed Cloudflare under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act to discover Manga Bank's domains.

Shueisha, Kadokawa, Shogakukan, and Kodansha are all part of Japan's Content Overseas Distribution Association (CODA), which will launch the International Anti-Piracy Organization (IAPO) in April with organizations from more than 12 other countries. IAPO will work to curb the piracy of manga and anime and also assist law enforcement with criminal investigations in the field, especially when those criminal investigations require cooperation from law enforcement in multiple countries.

Sources: Comic Natalie, Kodansha

follow-up of Asahi, Kyodo: 4 Japanese Publishers to Sue Cloudflare for Offering Data Services to Manga Piracy Sites
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