NHK reported on Friday that Shueisha has asked a Spanish advertising company to stop its advertising and issuance of revenue to at least 27 manga pirate websites, with the company complying with the request. NHK called the move the first time a Japanese publishing company has issued such a request to a foreign advertising company.
Sites that offer pirated manga content primarily earn revenue from ad views and clicks. The company that Shueisha sent a request to supposedly replied in three days, saying that “it was difficult to grasp the entirety of the content of the sites,” but still terminated its contract with the manga pirate sites.
Shueisha executive Atsushi Itō spoke to NHK, acknowledging that manga piracy sites may simply switch to a different advertising provider, but that cutting off such sites’ source of revenue remains one of the main methods of eliminating them.
According to the Authorized Books of Japan (ABJ), a Tokyo-based association working to crack down on pirated manga, manga piracy cost the industry a total of 1.19 trillion yen (approximately US$8.76 billion) in 2021. This represents a sharp increase of 4.8 times over the past two years, while official sales only increased by 1.6 times over the same period (or 612 billion yen/US$5.33 billion) according to The Research Institute for Publications.
The ABJ stated in January that there were approximately 900 manga piracy websites. The group investigated the 10 most popular sites and found that the total view number for 2021 was 3.76 billion, a 2.5 times increase over the past two years. The ABJ only calculated loss of revenue through the number of page views through the websites (not counting downloads).
Ito is the head of public relations and legal department at ABJ, and is also is in charge of anti-piracy measures at Shueisha.
Shueisha currently files approximately 10 criminal complaints a year and issues about 120,000 monthly requests to websites, server operators, and other related parties demanding those sites delete works that violate its copyright.
Shueisha, alongside fellow Japanese publishers Kodansha, Shogakukan, and Kadokawa, filed a lawsuit against the American Internet infrastructure company Cloudflare in February. The lawsuit alleged that Cloudflare distributes data for manga piracy sites that infringe on the publishers’ copyrights, and it sought an injunction and about 460 million yen (about US$4 million) in compensation for damages. Cloudflare and the publishers eventually reached a settlement, with Cloudflare agreeing 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.