Mangamura Pirate Site Owner Ordered to Pay 1.7 Billion Yen to Shueisha, Shogakukan, Kadokawa – News

The Tokyo District Court ordered on Thursday the former owner of the Japanese-language manga piracy site Mangamura must pay Japanese publishers Shogakukan, Shueisha, and Kadokawa 1.7 billion yen (about US$11.0 million). The publishers stated this is the largest amount of money a judge has ever ordered be paid regarding damages in a case about piracy in Japan.

The companies had sued Mangamura in July 2022 for 1.9 billion yen. The number represents estimated damages to the company from piracy of 441 volumes from 17 manga.

The manga mentioned in the lawsuit include 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 Ryūseigun.

The publishers argued that the alleged owner of the site, Romi Hoshino, a.k.a. Zakay Romi, earned advertising revenue from the site. Romi argued that he did not operate the site, but handled system development and management.

The Fukuoka District Court handed down a guilty verdict in June 2021 to Hoshinoon charges of copyright infringement and hiding criminal proceeds. The then 29-year-old Hoshino was sentenced to three years in prison, a fine of 10 million yen (about US$91,100 at the time), and an additional fine of 62 million yen (about US$565,000 at the time). The latter is based on the 62 million yen in revenue that Hoshino earned from the site and deposited to a foreign bank account.

Nikkei reported on Thursday that after Hoshino was released from prison after serving his sentence, in 2023 he asked the Fukuoka District Court to reexamine the case, asserting he was innocent.

The Mangamura site launched in 2016. Japanese authorities revealed in May 2018 that they were actively investigating Mangamura after Kodansha and other publishers filed criminal complaints with police departments in summer through fall 2017.

The Japanese government officially asked internet service providers in Japan to block access to three pirated manga websites including Mangamura in April 2018. Mangamura then became inaccessible on April 17, 2018. However, the Asahi Shimbun newspaper reported on the same day that the site did not shut down due to site-blocking from Internet service providers. According to the newspaper’s source from a service provider, the action could not have been performed by anyone aside from the site’s administrators.

Hoshino was residing in the Philippines in 2019, and the Philippine Bureau of Immigration took him into custody in July of that year, and extradited him to Japan in September that same year. Police also arrested another alleged Mangamura-related individual named Wataru Adachi in August 2019, as well as two other individuals: a 26-year-old male named Kōta Fujisaki, and a 24-year-old female named Shiho Itō, who were both reportedly friends of Hoshino. Fujisaki pleaded guilty, while Itō pleaded innocent in their arraignment in September 2019.

Source: Nikkei via My Game News Flash

Disclosure: Kadokawa World Entertainment (KWE), a wholly owned subsidiary of Kadokawa Corporation, is the majority owner of Anime News Network, LLC. One or more of the companies mentioned in this article are part of the Kadokawa Group of Companies.