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Manga Piracy Costs Japanese Publishers $3.5 Billion In 2023

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Japanese publishers lost an estimated 381.8 billion yen (approximately $3.5 billion) due to free reading on manga piracy sites in 2023, the ABJ reported.

This estimation was revealed during a meeting on anti-piracy measures held by the Agency for Cultural Affairs earlier this year.

This figure, while lower than the 506.9 billion yen lost in 2022, remains significantly higher than pre-pandemic levels of 210 billion yen in 2020.

ABJ attributed the initial surge in piracy to increased home internet use during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The damage caused by free reading on manga piracy sites had increased during the pandemic due to people staying at home, peaking at approximately 1.19 trillion yen in 2021. Since then, it has been on a declining trend due to the consecutive crackdowns on major pirate sites.

The biggest crackdown conducted includes that of –

  1. Mangamura – with the Tokyo District Court ordering the former operator of the manga piracy website to pay 1.7 billion yen in damages to three major publishing houses: Shogakukan, Kadokawa, and Shueisha.
  2. 13DL – the biggest manga piracy site in Japan which was recently shut down by CODA.

On top of that, two foreign nationals suspected of leaking manga panels to leakers were also arrested.

Even so, as of January 2024, ABJ has identified 1,176 active pirate sites, a number which had only grown over the tail end of 2023.

Of these, many were translated into languages other than Japanese, suggesting that these websites were targeted towards global audiences.

ABJ warned that new sites were continuously emerging, and their tactics were becoming more sophisticated. The organization called for continued cooperation with all stakeholders to combat the ongoing issue of manga piracy.

The impact of piracy is felt not only by publishers but also by the creators themselves, who lose out on royalties and income.

The Japanese government, along with international partners, is actively working to combat piracy through legal measures and technological solutions.

The Agency for Cultural Affairs had also created video tutorials aimed at high school students in order to teach them the downsides of reading manga on piracy sites.

90% of junior high school students and above owned smartphones in Japan. The aim was to teach students that “just reading” too can lead to copyright infringement.

Source: Nikkei

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