Japanese publishers to sue illegal manga website

NHK -- Nov 15
Major publishers in Japan are preparing to file a criminal complaint against the operator of one of the largest illegal manga-viewing websites in the country.

A US court decision has now allowed them to identify the operator.

Four publishers, including Shueisha, have accused the pirate website "Manga Bank" of infringing on copyrights. They say the operator posted all the pages of their comic books and magazines on the website without permission.

Shueisha asked a US court in October to instruct Google and other Internet firms to disclose information about the operator. It wanted the operator's name, address, phone number, IP address and other data.

Last Friday, the court reportedly ordered the Internet platforms to disclose the relevant information.

Illegal manga websites emerged as a major problem in the publishing industry around four years ago.

A website named "Manga-mura," or manga village, was once the largest illegal manga site in Japan. In June, its operator was sentenced to three years in prison for copyright violations and other actions.

Manga Bank then replaced Manga-mura. The site was accessed about 81 million times in one month. But it was closed early in November.

The four publishers plan to file a damages lawsuit in addition to the criminal complaint.

A Shueisha official, Ito Atsushi, says it is the role of a publisher to protect works that authors devoted themselves to creating, and to offer them to readers in a proper form. Ito has pledged to fight against piracy websites.

One of the lawyers for the publishers, Nakajima Hiroyuki, says operators of piracy websites can be identified by taking legal steps, even if they use overseas servers.

He added that he hopes taking legal action in the Manga Bank case will help deter people from operating illegal websites.