Manga, or comics, is one of Japan’s leading content export globally, and the industry is beginning to feel the brunt of online piracy. It has been discovered that these hugely popular Japanese serials are now being unofficially translated into English for foreign readers, and posted on multiple Internet sites several days before they are actually published in Japanese weekly magazines. With this situation affecting one of the country’s prime content products, the Japanese government and specific manga publishers now plan to reinforce countermeasures to protect one of the nation’s most popular products.
These pirated versions of Japan’s manga serials – including the hugely popular Naruto and One Piece – are deemed untouchable due to Japan’s copyright restrictions on materials posted from overseas servers. Now, government entities and publishers are looking at what measures would be effective against them. For instance, the Japanese government is seeking to revise the Copyright Law during the current Diet session so that authors and publishing companies can file lawsuits and injunctions against pirated versions posted on the internet. Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry has also been working on creating a scheme under which it will register copyright holders of animated works and manga with a database so that they can be informed if pirated versions of their works are posted online.
Publishers are now forced to offer online services with great added value so that they won’t lag behind these manga pirates. Kadokawa Corp., one of Japan’s biggest publishing companies, launched a site called ComicWalker in March that allows users to browse and read through around 200 manga titles and other works that are currently running in its magazines. The site is accessible via computers and smartphones. In December last year, mobile game provider DeNA Co. created a web magazine called MangaBox where users, after installing an app, can read titles for free. The app currently allows access to around 40 titles. In May, DeNA plans to release print and digital books of Japanese versions of the manga on MangaBox. By providing the official foreign language versions, DeNA is aiming to differentiate the manga from pirated works, hoping that the official translations appeal to the fans better.