The operator of pirated manga website, Manga Bank, was reportedly arrested in China and slapped with administrative punishment by authorities.
On June 15, Chongqing Municipal People’s Congress issued an administrative penalty of confiscation of criminal proceeds worth over 330,000 yen (approximately USD 2374) against the operator of Manga Bank and a fine of over 600,000 yen (approximately USD 4317) for violation of the Ordinance on the Protection of Information Network Transmission Right.
The Chongqing City resident, whose identity is not revealed, was charged with operating multiple piracy sites including Manga Bank and distributing works without the the permission of the right holders.
The incident was mentioned on the official website of People’s Government of Wanzhou District, Chongqing.
This is the first time that an overseas punishment was meted out against an operator of a pirated manga website for the Japanese market.
The operator was tracked down after four major publishing companies, Kadokawa, Kodansha, Shueisha, and Shogakukan obtained a series of disclosure orders in U.S. courts against the server companies and other overseas services used by Manga Bank.
These publishers had accused the pirate website Manga Bank of infringing on their intellectual property rights.
On Nov 5, 2021, the California Court instructed Google and other internet platforms to reveal the necessary information. Since then, Manga Bank has been offline.
After analyzing the disclosed information closely with the advice of the Fukuoka Prefectural Police, who were instrumental in the Mangamura case, the publishers discovered that the operator resides in Chongqing City, China.
Based on this information, they requested that the Contents Distribution Authority of Japan (CODA), which has an office in China, take action.
However, this process was not easy as Manga Bank and the other piracy websites operated by the accused had geo-blocked their images so that they can’t be viewed from China.
And since there was no actual infringement on the public interest in China, which was an important requirement to get administrative penalties in the country, CODA submitted a petition to the Chinese authorities for administrative penalties outlining the extensive damage in Japan and the importance of detecting the infringement, as well as various information provided.
According to CODA, the fact that the case was accepted and the disposition was made, is unprecedent and groundbreaking.
While the local law firm authorities consider the fine of 30,000 Chinese yuan (600,000 yen) as a heavy penalty, CODA and the other publishers consider it not enough in the light of the damage caused by the piracy website.
According to estimates by the ABJ, “the total number of accesses during the period of establishment (November 2019 to October 2021) reached 993.7 million, and the amount of free reading was equivalent to 208.2 billion yen in terms of manga sales price“.
CODA said that they will partner with the four publishers and continue to gather information in an effort to uncover the full extent of the infringement, and will also consider means of recovering the damages suffered by the publishers.
The manga industry has lost a total of 1.19 trillion yen (approximately US$8.76 billion) in 2021 as a result of illegal consumption of manga via piracy sites.
Source: CODA official website