Mangamura Pirate Site Owner Ordered to Pay ¥1.7 Billion to Three Publishing Companies

The owner of the pirate site Mangamura has been ordered by the Tokyo District Court to pay ¥1.7 billion (around US$11 million) to Shogakukan, Shueisha, and Kadokawa. The court decision is the largest compensation ever awarded in a lawsuit over damage caused by pirated copies.

Mangamura was a pirate site owned and operated by Romi Hoshino, a.k.a. Zakay Romi. It was launched in February 2016 and was shut down in April 2018 after Kodansha and other publishers filed criminal complaints with police departments in the summer of 2017 regarding the site’s operations.

The reported compensation figure is based on the court’s decision on the damages to the companies for piracy of 441 volumes and 17 manga. The mentioned pirated titles included One Piece, Kingdom, YAWARA!, Dorohedoro, Overlord, Sgt. Frog, Wise Man’s Grandchild, The Rising of the Shield Hero, Trinity Seven, Hinamatsuri, Erased, Mushoku Tensei, Golden Rough, Kanojo wa Uso o Ai Shisugiteru, Karakuri Circus, Kengan Ashura, and Tasogare Ryuseigun.

Following the site’s closure in 2018, Hoshino was put into custody by the Philippine Bureau of Immigration in 2019, as he was residing in the Philippines at that time. He was then later extradited to Japan later that year, where Fukuoka District Court handled the initial case against him. In June 2021, the aforementioned court handed a guilty verdict to Hoshino on grounds of copyright infringement. For this case, he was sentenced to three years in prison, a fine of ¥10 million (about US$91,100 at the time), and an additional fine of ¥62 million (about US$565,000 at the time).

For this year’s new ruling, the court noted that the Mangamura site operated fraudulently by manually uploading scanned manga images to the site’s server; and making scans uploaded by third parties available for viewing on the site. Moreover, the ruling also said that through this operation, the site was making online ad revenue based on site hosting.

Source: Nikkei
Featured image: Police in a Pod. © Miko Yasu, Kodansha/Hakozume Production Committee