A popular Japanese manga site that was pirating over 5,000 series, including Naruto and One Piece, was shuttered by a Chinese court, and its three defendants varying sentences that involved jail term. This is the first criminal case in China pertaining to infringement of copyright of Japanese manga works.
The Content Overseas Distribution Association (CODA) confirmed last week that pirate manga site called “imanhua.com” has been brought down. The site’s operators and defendants in the case were sentenced to prison for illegally uploading manga content on the website. Needless to add, the operators earned handsomely by the illegal activity within the few months that the site was active.
Operating for less than a year, the site, “imanhua.com,” managed to earn 1.8 million Yuan (about 257,000 US dollars). The three site operators, whose names haven’t been openly disclosed on the public domain, managed to earn the revenue by the affiliate links on the site. According to CODA, three male defendants were found guilty this month in the Wenjiang District Court in Chengdu City, China, of operating a pirate manga site. Incidentally, this is first criminal case in China pertaining to infringement of copyright of Japanese manga works.
— manga (@mangamess) February 28, 2017
Unfortunately, the court proceedings were rather long and protracted. Interestingly, the trio was arrested by the City’s Department of Public Safety on April 15, 2015, and the case was under trail since then. In other words, justice was served after two long years, despite the fact that the operators of “imanhua.com” had no legal contract to upload popular Japanese manga.
According to court documents, the trio established a company to operate the pirate manga site called “imanhua.com” in August 2014. Within the short time frame the site was active, admins illegally uploaded 5,216 Japanese manga. While some of the notable manga series were Naruto and One Piece, from five Japanese publishing houses including Shueisha Co., Ltd, the operators managed to upload whatever popular Japanese manga they could get their hands on. Apart from the Japanese series, the site also featured almost two dozen Korean manga titles.
Needless to add, neither the website nor the admins or the company that the site operated under, had the prerequisite copyright holders’ permission. However, considering the fact that Japanese, as well as Korean manga to a great extent, are extensively popular not just in the respective countries but also across the globe, the trio managed to earn well. According to the official documents that followed an investigation, the site earned the handsome revenue within just eight months.
— ❤️Liliana Krstic❤️ (@Ljiljana301286) February 26, 2017
Court documents noted that of the three accused, two were considered as principal accused, while the third was treated as an accessory to the intellectual property related crime that amounted to loss of revenue. The two principal offenders were sentenced to three years in jail. However, their sentence has been suspended for four years. In addition to the suspended jail sentence, the duo has been slapped with a fine of 1 million Yuan (142,560 US dollars). The accessory was sentenced to a two-year jail sentence that has been suspended for three years. Additionally, the guilty has been slapped with a fine of 500,000 Yuan (71,280 US dollars).
CODA is a fairly nascent association that comprises majorly of Japanese contents holders and copyright-related organizations. Formed in 2002, CODA was established as a means to achieve a higher level of cooperation among the concerned parties to jointly curb piracy of Japanese contents around the world. The justice served in case of “imanhua.com” was at the behest of the Economy, Trade and Industry Ministry of Japan. After receiving the complaint, CODA conducted the survey with its 33 member companies.
Piracy is a huge problem for Japanese content holders. According to a research conducted in 2014, piracy cost 288.8 billion Yen (about 2.5 billion US dollars) worth of losses. Shockingly, the loss is more than double the revenue made through sales over legal distribution channels.
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