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23 Shogakukan Manga Magazines Launch Anti-Piracy Campaign

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Publishers are taking a proactive approach towards manga pirating, some filing lawsuits on behalf of their publishers to take down piracy websites. Over the years, creators from Ashita no Joe's Tetsuya Chiba to hentai manga artist Gujira have asked readers not to support piracy.

Publisher Shogakukan rolled out its newest initiative on June 4. The "NO! Piracy & Illegal Website" campaign seeks to eradicate the use of such websites by clearly posting announcements and ads for all of the company's magazines and digital media hubs. The idea is that by promoting these legal options, readers will participate in a movement to reject pirated copies and illegal manga websites.

The campaign states that there was a rapid increase in the use of piracy websites since last fall and this increase has threatened the legal digital manga market and could influence the decline of the manga industry as a whole. The site states a "large pirate site" caused an estimated 400 billion yen in damages (US$3.64 billion) and when combined with usage of other illegal reading sites the damages are several times that amount.

Shogakukan states that over the last decade it has continually asked piracy sites to remove infringing works while working with local police and overseas law firms to track down the administrators and uploaders of piracy websites. The publisher found that, despite these efforts, the websites remain up. Piracy websites collect funds through advertisement revenue based on the number of visitors. Shogakukan sees the best method to take down this websites is to drive away users, exhaust the websites' funding, and essentially make it impossible to keep it up and running.

The "NO! Piracy & Illegal Website" campaign first launched in Shogakukan's Big Comic Spirits magazine's 27th issue released on June 4. The campaign's announcements will also appear in 23 of the company's publications.

Not all parties are particularly happy with the new developments. The Japanese government asked internet providers to block piracy sites and Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corporation (NTT) obliged, leading to a lawsuit claiming NTT's action is allegedly a violation of the Telecommunications Business Act, and constitutes a violation of privacy of communication, due to the action implying that NTT is aware of the content that its users access. The Almost Got Laid Committee manga creator Takashi Yoshida also criticized these efforts as a band-aid that doesn't solve the root of the issue: publishers' lack of a pro-active response to make piracy sites less appealing.

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