Tag Archives: Manga

Cloudflare Agrees to Stop Caching Pirate Content in Japan, If Court Declares Sites Illegal

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/cloudflare-agrees-to-stop-caching-pirate-content-in-japan-if-court-declares-sites-illegal-200224/

As the largest CDN and DDoS mitigation service on the planet, Cloudflare provides services to millions of websites.

A tiny proportion of these sites are on the radars of entertainment and publishing companies since they either directly offer or link to unlicensed copies of copyrighted works. As a result, Cloudflare is under almost continual pressure to cease doing business with these entities.

As first reported here on TF in September 2019, Japan-based publishers Shueisha, Kadowaka, Kodansha, and Shogakukan sued the ‘pirate’ site Hoshinoromi in a New York federal court. The platform, which positioned itself as a replacement for self-shuttered pirate site Mangamura, was accused of “willful and massive infringement” of the publishers’ copyrights.

That case is still ongoing and according to a filing late last week (pdf), the publishers are having considerable difficulty identifying and serving the defendants, so need an extension. Cloudflare was mentioned in that lawsuit too and it now transpires that the same publishers previously targeted the CDN company in a Japan court back in 2018.

In common with other lawsuits in Japan, details are hazy. However, according to a joint statement issued late last week, Shueisha, Kadowaka, Kodansha, and Shogakukan filed a motion at the Tokyo District Court in August 2018 with a demand that Cloudflare should stop providing services to several ‘pirate’ platforms, Hoshinoromi included. Due to caching, that amounted to Cloudflare delivering infringing content to the public, they argued.

For reasons that appear related to the ongoing case in the United States, they have waited until now to reveal a settlement of sorts with Cloudflare. It was reportedly reached in June 2019 and seems to hinge on whether a court determines that the ‘pirate’ sites in question are copyright-infringing and therefore illegal.

The publishers’ statement indicates that when the ‘pirate’ sites using Cloudflare are viewed by users in Japan, most of those users will be accessing them via Cloudflare’s Japan-located servers. So, if the Tokyo District Court rules that the sites are illegal, Cloudflare has reportedly agreed to “stop the replication of the sites to Cloudflare’s servers in Japan.”

At least in part, the announcement is designed to be a warning to other ‘pirate’ sites that may be considering using Cloudflare’s services to improve uptime and general accessibility. Whether it will make much of a difference on the ground remains to be seen, however.

While this particular matter appears to be settled, last December Cloudflare was sued by Takeshobo, another major publisher based in Japan that distributes dozens of manga publications, many under the Bamboo Comics label.

The publisher said it was forced to sue Cloudflare because takedown notices sent to the CDN company in respect of a nameless ‘pirate’ site were effectively ignored, allowing infringing material to stay online via Cloudflare’s services. Progress in that particular case is unknown but the settlement with Shueisha, Kadowaka, Kodansha, and Shogakukan may provide a possible solution for Takeshobo.

Cloudflare is obviously extremely cautious when faced with similar lawsuits, always insisting that as a service provider it is not responsible for the activities of its users. Last week, however, the effects of a ruling handed down in December by a German court saw Cloudflare disconnect pirate music platform DDL-Music under the threat of serious fines.

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and more. We also have VPN reviews, discounts, offers and coupons.

Manga Scanlation Teams Don’t Want War, They Want Accessible Content

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/manga-scanlation-teams-dont-want-war-they-want-accessible-content-200117/

In recent months there has been a notable increase in publicised anti-piracy actions against services offering manga content. Publishers have pressured a range of sites, hoping to shut down or at least make life more difficult for these hugely popular platforms.

Among the targets was MandaDex, a so-called ‘scanlation’ platform that offers scanned and translated manga publications to an audience underserved by publishers offering restricted foreign language output. The site first reported domain issues and then revealed that its donation processing mechanism had also come under fire, a popular strategy among certain anti-piracy groups.

In the wake of our report, TorrentFreak spoke with an individual in charge of server administration for several scanlation groups including Mangazuki.co, MangaSushi.net, and LHTranslation.net. At least two of these sites process around three million requests per day, according to traffic reports shared with TF.

The source shared information that shows aggressive correspondence received from anti-piracy company RemoveYourMedia, including threats to target a PayPal account and instructions to either remove content or face being “disappeared” from search engines.

“We initially dismissed these emails as being spam, or most likely just some extortion scheme. However, the PayPal account that was listed publicly for donations has been taken down by a DMCA claim from VIZ,” our source revealed.

Documents sent by PayPal and reviewed by TF reveal the payment processor warning the LHT scanlation platform that it had received complaints from VIZ Media LLC and that certain actions needed to be taken, including the deletion of many URLs, in order to comply with PayPal’s acceptable use policy. The necessary action was taken and the PayPal account was restored. The groups also took the decision to remove all VIZ Media content from their sites.

Publisher VIZ Media has been at war with manga sites for many years and it was this publisher that recently targeted MangaDex, among others. However, the takedown demands against scanlation sites aren’t always cut and dried and in many cases don’t meet the accepted standards in respect of the DMCA.

“The stuff [LHTranslation] was hosting wasn’t a direct copy of VIZ’s work. In fact, it was a fan translation, and we had never received a proper DMCA takedown request. We’re quite certain extortion doesn’t count as a valid DMCA complaint,” our source added.

In broad terms, these scanlation platforms say they have to deal with three types of people filing complaints. The first group is labeled “DMCA trolls” and described as people who don’t hold any rights or licenses but file DMCA takedowns regardless.

“We’ve had those emails fly past every once in a while, with poorly worded ‘demands’ as well. Because we receive them every once in a while, we kind of assumed the email [threat sent on behalf of VIZ Media] was among them,” the server admin said.

Interestingly, the second category – genuine copyright holders who send proper DMCA notices – apparently aren’t an issue. There are no objections to these claims, content is taken down and users are directed to where the original material can be purchased instead.

However, those in the final category appear to be the greatest irritant, both in volume terms and the nature of the claims.

“The third kind, and sadly the one we see the most, are those that take our translations and file a claim on our content. Essentially if torrent leeches were to file complaints after leeching the content,” our source complained.

Faced with such issues, the server admin says that the groups he deals with have all moved to so-called ‘bulletproof’ hosting, not because they want to ignore the DMCA but to avoid the DMCA being abused as a weapon. In fact, the groups don’t appear averse to working with license holders to reach the goal of delivering manga to the public in English so it can be enjoyed by currently underserved fans.

All in all, however, it’s a time-consuming process.

After the raw manga images are obtained by the scanlation groups, members are tasked with translating the comics into English while others tidy up the Japanese, Korean, and Chinese text. Further fine-tuning then takes place including re-drawing some pages, applying proper fonts, and putting pages through a final editing process. After a quality control procedure, content is then released on the scanlation sites.

“After we’ve released a chapter on our own site, other people take our releases and re-upload them to aggregator sites, like MangaDex, spreading them to the wider masses,” our source revealed.

“Both our goal, and that of MangaDex in this process isn’t to make money, however. Most of this work is done free of charge. We’re all doing this because we simply love reading mangas and want to bring these series to the West. So other people can enjoy them and in the hope that English publishers see the demand for a certain series and pick them up for official translation.

“This is also why we always tell our readers to support the official releases and creators. And the reason why MangaDex points to the buy pages of both the official English prints and in some cases the Japanese prints. Because of all this, we often don’t see ourselves as pirates, but just as fans, as our goal is to simply make series accessible to others,” the source concluded.

If we take these claims on face value, there appears to be a fairly straightforward way to make progress and counter the perceived scanlation ‘threat’. By making translated content available officially, these groups would not only be out of a ‘job’ but manga could also reach a wider audience, presumably alongside increased revenue.

That sounds a little more progressive than shouty emails and having PayPal accounts shut down.

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and more. We also have VPN reviews, discounts, offers and coupons.

Manga Publisher Takeshobo Sues Cloudflare For Copyright Infringement

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/manga-publisher-takeshobo-sues-cloudflare-for-copyright-infringement-200108/

Founded in 1972, Takeshobo is major publisher based in Japan. The company distributes dozens of manga publications on monthly schedules, many under the Bamboo Comics label.

On Tuesday the company revealed that it had taken legal action to protect its titles being made available online by pirate sites. However, in common with an increasing number of companies in multiple spaces, its lawyers are going after Cloudflare.

Takeshobo revealed that on December 20, 2019, it filed a civil action against the CDN company at the Tokyo District Court.

“The nature of the complaint is that Cloudflare, Inc. provides a server to an illegal site where many copyrighted works, including those published by us, are illegally uploaded and made available for free,” a statement from Takeshobo reads.

“We asked directly to remove the uploaded copyrighted material from the company’s server, but because no action was taken, we requested the court to remove the copyright infringing page and pay damages.”

Since no court documents have yet been made available to the public and the publisher refers only to “an illegal site”, there’s no absolute confirmation of which ‘pirate’ site Takeshobo is referencing. The company does state, however, that “an order based on copyright infringement has been issued at a District Court in the United States.”

Another possible pointer can be found in Takeshobo’s statement, which further indicates that the legal case against Cloudflare in Japan was filed in collaboration with Mr. Hanamura, one of the authors of the ‘Dorukara’ comic distributed by the company.

With this information in hand, TorrentFreak was able to trace court documents filed in the United States during July 2019, which reveal Takeshobo asking Cloudflare to take action against various ‘pirate’ sites using its services, including those making the ‘Dorukara’ publication available to the public.

“Takeshobo Inc. is seeking a subpoena pursuant to 17 U.S.C. § 512(h) to obtain information sufficient to identify the persons infringing its copyrighted works,” an application for a DMCA subpoena filed at a district court in California reads.

“The purpose for which this subpoena is sought is to obtain the identity of the alleged infringers. Such information will only be used for the purpose of protecting rights
under the Copyright Act (17 U.S.C. § 101, et seq.).”

Domains belonging to several ‘pirate’ sites are listed in the subpoena against Cloudflare – Hoshinoromi.org, Worldjobproject.org, Hanascan.com, Mangahato.com, and Manatiki.com.

Readers will recall that Hoshinoromi.org was presented by some as a ‘successor’ to the previously shuttered Mangamura platform, which at the time was considered one of the largest infringers of manga publishers’ copyrights.

However, after being sued last September at a federal court in New York by publishers Shueisha, Kadowaka, Kodansha, and Shogakukan, Hoshinoromi.org and the related
Worldjobproject.org shut down.

That leaves Hanascan.com, Mangahato.com, and Manatiki.com, all of which are operating today. Manatiki is clearly the smallest player, pulling in around 327,000 visits per month according to SimilarWeb stats. Hanascan is considerably larger with around 3.2 million visits per month but Mangahato is in a clear lead with around 3.5 million.

An image presented as part of the DMCA subpoena application last year shows all three domains allegedly carrying ‘Dolkara’ content, which according to MyAnimeList is an alternative title for ‘Dorukara’.

Another curiosity can be found in the URLs highlighted above. Domain names aside, the URLs listed for all three sites are identical in construction and present content in more or less the same format.

We can also confirm that all of the content remains in place, via Cloudflare’s services, despite demands in Takeshobo’s DMCA subpoena to “remove or disable” the allegedly infringing works from the listed domains.

Whether Takeshobo is targeting one, all, or indeed none of these domains remains a question but it is crystal clear that Cloudflare did not remove or disable access to any of the above content as the earlier DMCA subpoena demanded.

Whether that dispute is also part of the lawsuit now underway in Tokyo against Cloudflare is still unconfirmed but the pieces seem to point in that direction.

The documents supporting the application for a DMCA subpoena, which was signed off by the court last year, are available here and here (pdf)

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and more. We also have VPN reviews, discounts, offers and coupons.

MangaDex Targeted by DMCA Subpoena, Now Migrating Servers

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/mangadex-targeted-by-dmca-subpoena-now-migrating-servers-200103/

Sites offering manga comics and magazines are a huge deal on the Internet, particularly ones that users can access without paying. This, of course, runs counter to the business plans of many manga creators.

Unfortunately, however, many mango titles are only officially available in certain languages. This has left a gap in the market for unofficial ‘scanlation’ sites that have stepped in to meet demand by offering scanned copies of physical publications supported by fan-made translations.

Mangadex is one such platform, one with a massive following too. Operating from both MangaDex.org and .com, according to SimilarWeb stats the site pulls in more than 30 million visits per month. As a result, it was no surprise that when it went down a few days ago, users began to panic, despite the site’s official explanation on Twitter.

While the site may indeed return in the hours or days to come, the downtime wasn’t broadly announced in advance, which can indicate that something unexpected happened to force some kind of change. The site hasn’t been forthcoming with any information on this front but TorrentFreak has learned that it is facing legal pressure, which may (or indeed may not) be connected to the current downtime.

On December 20, 2019, attorney Evan Stone – who has a reputation for chasing down pirates – requested a DMCA subpoena at a Texas court to be served against Cloudflare on behalf of his client, VIZ Media, LLC.

“The purpose of the accompanying subpoena is to obtain the identity of the
alleged copyright infringer in control of the internet domain listed on in the subpoena.
The information obtained will be used only for the purpose of protecting the rights
granted to my client under Title 17 of the United States Code,” the filing reads.

An attached ‘Electronic notice of copyright infringement’, signed by Eric Green of anti-piracy company Remove Your Media, lists the Japanese manga title allegedly being infringed as ‘Boruto’. The website URL listed in the document belongs to MangaDex.

The DMCA subpoena requires Cloudflare to hand over “identifying information, including name, e-mail address, physical address, billing information or any other relevant contact information for the alleged infringer who controls the site at mangadex.org and/or the domain itself.”

If Cloudflare is to comply with the subpoena, it will have to supply the information listed above to attorney Evan Stone on or before February 8, 2020. Whether the information will indeed be of use in identifying the operator of MangaDex is unknown.

Overall, it’s been a tough few months for fans of scanlation platforms. In September, Manga Rock said it would close down in order to launch a legal platform. Last month, Mangastream disappeared after being targeted by a DMCA subpoena obtained by Japanese publisher Shueisha.

Whether these closures will massively boost sales on official platforms remains a question, however. A recent study published by Professor Tatsuo Tanaka of the Faculty of Economics at Keio University concluded that while selective takedowns may have a positive effect on sales, piracy may boost sales of some comics.

The DMCA subpoena and related documents can be found here (1,2,3)

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and more. We also have VPN reviews, discounts, offers and coupons.

Mangastream Disappears After Being Targeted by Publisher

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/mangastream-disappears-after-being-targeted-by-publisher-191221/

Manga comics and magazines are huge. Not just in Japan but all over the world.

People used to read them on paper, but digital is the standard today. While that makes these comics more accessible, they’re also easier to pirate.

For years there has been an active ‘scanlation’ community. These are fan-made translations that are shared online. Sharing can begin innocently, by posting a copy on a message board. However, there are also entire sites dedicated to this practice.

These platforms draw millions of users which is something manga publishers are not happy with. While the pirate sites certainly helped to popularize the genre around the globe, it doesn’t help the creators if fans enjoy everything for free.

Earlier this year publishers already pressed MangaRock to change its business model and go legal, and this week it appears that another major scanlation site has thrown in the towel.

Mangastream, which operated in the open for many years, has completely disappeared now. There is no official statement on the site’s homepage. Instead, it’s displaying a generic “name of resolved” error, which means that the domain’s nameservers have been stripped.

There has been no official announcement from the site’s operators. However, the domain name changes coincide with the removal of Mangastream’s official Twitter account. This makes it very plausible that the ‘disappearance’ is intentional.

The recent events are a blow to many manga fans, especially since Mangastream was the source of many scanlations. While the motivation for the shutdown it remains guesswork, several leads point to the Japanese publisher Shueisha, known for the Weekly Shōnen Jump magazine.

Following in the footsteps of Mangastream, Jaimini’s Box announced that it would stop working on Weekly Shōnen Jump, but not on other series.

“If you haven’t seen it already, Mangastream has decided to stop working on WSJ series overall. The important part is, we think it is a good place for us to end too,” the site announced.

“This is a new beginning, and end, to an era of scanlation,” Jaimini’s Box added, pointing its readers to MANGA Plus, the authorized online manga platform that’s owned by Shueisha.

After digging further into the issue TorrentFreak was able to confirm that Shueisha indeed had its eyes set on Mangastream.

Earlier this year the Japanese publisher requested a DMCA subpoena at a US federal court in Maryland, demanding that Cloudflare should hand over all details it holds on the domain name’s owner.

Shueisha hoped that identifying the operators of the site could help the company to protect its copyrights.

“The purpose for which the subpoena is sought is to obtain the identity of alleged infringers and the information obtained therefrom will only be used for the purpose of protecting rights under the Copyright Act,” the attorney informed the court.

This filing dates back to March and it’s the only DMCA subpoena Shueisha requested. It is unclear whether this effort did indeed result in any useful information, as we don’t see a signed order on the docket, but it does confirm that Mangastream had a target on its back.

Paired with Jaimini’s Box’s decision to stop Weekly Shōnen Jump scanlation, it’s likely that Mangastream’s ‘disappearance’ follows legal pressure from the company.

Whatever the reason may be, many of the site’s users are disappointed. A thread started on Reddit generated hundreds of comments and others took their frustration and dismay to Twitter.

There is no record of a federal lawsuit against Mangastream in the US. However, Shueisha did previously team up with other publishers in a legal battle against the operators of the pirate site Hoshinoromi. That case is ongoing.

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and more. We also have VPN reviews, discounts, offers and coupons.

Piracy Boosts Sales of Some Manga Comics, Research Shows

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/piracy-boosts-sales-of-some-manga-comics-research-shows-190920/

Manga piracy has been in the news quite a bit this month.

The popular manga comic scanlation platform Manga Rock announced that it will shut down and a few days later Japanese publishers sued the pirate site Hoshinoromi in a U.S. court.

By now, it’s commonly known that you are not supposed to republish copyrighted works without permission. However, people have different views on what the effect of manga piracy is on the revenues of publishers.

Rightsholders often stress that the industry is endangered by people who ‘steal’ their content, while manga consumers can see it as a form of promotion. Free sampling can satisfy the reading needs that are beyond their budget, expanding their horizons.

Newly published research by Professor Tatsuo Tanaka of the Faculty of Economics at Keio University suggests that both sides have a point.

The findings come from a natural experiment that uses a massive takedown campaign conducted by anti-piracy group CODA in 2015. This campaign reduced the availability of pirated comics on various download sites, which allowed Professor Tanaka to analyze how this affected sales of 3,360 comic book volumes.

The results, recently published in the article titled “The Effects of Internet Book Piracy: Case of Comics,” show that the effect of piracy differs between ongoing and completed series. In other words, the effect of piracy is heterogeneous.

“Piracy decreased the legitimate sales of ongoing comics but stimulated legitimate sales of completed comics,” Professor Tanaka writes.

The overall effect of piracy could not be measured with this methodology but the findings clearly show that piracy does have some positive effects. In this case, it shows the number of sales of completed comic book series increase.

This heterogeneous piracy effect on sales is not unique. Previously, research has shown that the Megaupload shutdown increased box office revenues for bigger films, but hurt smaller releases.

The manga piracy findings are particularly relevant for the Manga Rock situation. Following discussions with publishers, the site plans to remove all its pirated titles at the end of this month and return with a completely legal platform in a few months’ time.

Interestingly, that goes against the recommendation of Professor Tanaka, who writes the following in his paper:

“If the effect of piracy is heterogeneous, it is not the best solution to shut down the piracy sites uniformly but to delete harmful piracy files selectively if possible. In this case, deleting piracy files of ongoing comics only is the first best strategy for publishers regardless of whether the total effect is positive or negative, because the availability of piracy files of completed comics is beneficial to both publishers and consumers.”

The paper was published in August and is based on older, previously-released data. So, one should be careful when applying it to the Manga Rock case, which is newer and deals with fan-made scanlation copies. That said, it could give the publishers some food for thought.

Manga Rock is massively popular and has millions of engaged Mmanga fans in its user base. Keeping some of these on board, even with a smaller library, could be smarter than simply driving them towards the next pirate site.

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and more. We also have VPN reviews, discounts, offers and coupons.

Manga Publishers Sue Pirate Site “Hoshinoromi” in New York Court

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/manga-publishers-sue-pirate-site-hoshinoromi-in-new-york-court/

The popularity of pirated comics represents a thorn in the side to many publishers. Manga publishers, in particular, are faced with a constant stream of infringing copies.

Over the past year, we have seen some enforcement actions on this front.

For example, the Japanese Government jumped in and created a special task force to investigate the pirate site Mangamura, which shut down last year. Since then, several operators and uploaders have been prosecuted.

However, when Mangamura went offline, many other sites were more than happy to take its place. This includes Hoshinoromi.org, which is particularly popular in Japan but does well outside its borders too.

Hoshinoromi positioned itself as a successor to Mangamura and managed to build a rather impressive library of content in just a few months. According to its own stats from late July, it has 93,000 volumes or books in its archive, good for millions of pages.

Faced with the rapid rise of the site, a group of some of Japan’s largest manga publishers is now taking legal action. In a complaint filed at a federal court in New York, Shueisha, Kadowaka, Kodansha, and Shogakukan, accuse the site of blatant copyright infringement.

“This case is about willful and massive infringement of the Publishers’ manga,” they write. “Hoshinoromi is a pirate website operating at www.hoshinoromi.org, which organizes, promotes, and distributes unauthorized copies of the Publishers’ manga on a massive scale.”

New York seems an odd choice as publishers are all from Japan and the website is also in Japanese. However, the companies note that Hoshinoromi uses a variety of US-based companies to conduct its business and hide the operators’ identities.

“Cloudflare caches infringing content from both Hoshinoromi.org and the backend server, zakayloader.org (previously, worldjobproject.org). Cloudflare provides a reverse proxy to mask the server locations and operators,” the publishers write.

Other US-based outfits used by the site are Twitter and Gab, the publishers explain, adding that the site itself is freely available to American visitors as well.

Hoshinoromi.org

Hoshinoromi allegedly used Twitter to advertise the site, making it clear that it was aware of the potential negative impact it has on legitimate sales.

“When the old Manga Village closed, sales of manga went up, so the new Manga Village was revived, and profits will lower again!!!! What countermeasures are you going to take this time??,” the site previously wrote (translated) on its now-suspended Twitter account.

The publishers add that, while the site is open about its pirating activities, it apparently doesn’t want other people to ‘steal’ from them. According to the complaint, it is actively blocking outsiders from ‘exploiting’ the site’s collection of pirated files.

“Hoshinoromi has gone to great lengths to block competitor pirates and investigators from copying images in bulk. The operators of the site have no problem stealing and profiting from the Publishers’ manga, but they implement countermeasures to ensure that others do not do the same to them,” the publishers complain.

With the lawsuit, the publishers hope to unveil the site’s operators and be compensated for the damages they have suffered. They list a total of 41 works, which means that the theoretical statutory damages amount runs in the millions.

While it’s not specifically mentioned, another goal of the lawsuit may be to urge or compel third-party intermediaries to take action. Cloudflare is specifically mentioned as a caching service, and the publishers make it clear that they would like to see all copies of their works removed from the company’s servers.

A copy of the complaint filed by Shueisha, Kadowaka, Kodansha, and Shogakukan is available here (pdf).

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and more. We also have VPN reviews, discounts, offers and coupons.

YouTube Ordered to Hand Over Identities of Manga Pirates

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/youtube-ordered-to-hand-over-identities-of-manga-pirates-190603/

Users of YouTube upload millions of pieces of content to the platform every month, much of it without incident or irritation to third-parties.

However, there are those who upload copyright content, most of it music and videos, that infringe on the rights of the original owners.

When that happens, copyright holders can file claims with YouTube to have the content removed, via the platform’s Content ID system or by filing a manual claim.

Users are generally aware that these complaints have the potential to lead to a ‘strike’ against their accounts but a publishing giant in Japan seems to want to take things much further.

Founded in 1922, Shogakukan Inc. is one of Japan’s largest publishers offering more than 60 magazines, 8,000 books, and 13,000 manga titles (comics/graphic novels), to name a few. It’s also part owner of Viz Media, the largest publisher of comic books and graphic novels in the United States.

Shogakukan’s manga publications are often pirated in digital formats (PDF documents, for example) but they also get uploaded to YouTube. These take the form of videos, often set to music, featuring static views of the pages of each title, timed for easy reading.

YouTube users who uploaded the company’s content in this fashion now need to look over their shoulders.

On May 24, lawyers acting for Shogakukan requested a DMCA subpoena at a California district court to help it identify several YouTube channel operators who allegedly uploaded images of the company’s content.

DMCA subpoenas are not reviewed by a judge and only require a signature from a court clerk. As a result, Shogakukan may shortly be in receipt of some very sensitive information, at least according to its letter to YouTube.

In addition to requiring YouTube to disable access to the infringing works as listed by the publisher, the Google-owned video platform must also hand over the personal details of several channel operators identified as LNDA, Kile Russo, Anime FightClub, and Optimistic Neko, among others.

The subpoena requires YouTube to hand over information it holds on the alleged infringers “from the time of user registration with any and all of the Infringer’s Accounts”, including names, addresses, telephone numbers, email addresses, IP address logs, account and credit card numbers and the names of financial institutions connected to them.

According to the subpoena, the information above shall be obtained “from any and all sources” including YouTube accounts, Google AdSense accounts, “or any other service accounts(s) registered with or linked to the infringer’s account” with YouTube.

Interestingly, however, the term “infringer” appears to apply to a broader range of YouTube users than just the handful of individuals listed in the subpoena.

The letter contains a list of Shogakukan works and then states that, in addition to the named channels/users, YouTube must hand over the details of “any other users registered with www.youtube.com who uploaded and/or posted any Infringing Work specified under the column entitled as “Infringing Work” in Exhibit A.”

Exhibit A (DMCA subpoena to YouTube)

Given the broad nature of the subpoena, it seems that YouTube is not only being asked to provide targeted information but is also required to work pro-actively by searching for the content in question and then handing over the personal details of anyone who may have uploaded it.

While the DMCA subpoena process may be quick, a judge’s experience might have proven valuable in this case, given its potential scope.

The subpoena and associated documents can be found here (1,2)

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and more. We also have VPN reviews, discounts, offers and coupons.

Police Launch Investigation into Huge Pirate Manga Site Mangamura

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/police-launch-investigation-into-huge-pirate-manga-site-mangamura-180514/

Back in March, Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said that the government was considering measures to prohibit access to pirate sites.

While protecting all content is the overall aim, it became clear that the government was determined to protect Japan’s successful manga and anime industries.

It didn’t take long for a reaction. On Friday April 13, the government introduced emergency website blocking measures, seeking cooperation from the country’s ISPs.

NTT Communications Corp., NTT Docomo Inc. and NTT Plala Inc., quickly announced they would block three leading pirate sites – Mangamura, AniTube! and MioMio which have a huge following in Japan. However, after taking the country by storm during the past two years, Mangamura had already called it quits.

On April 17, in the wake of the government announcement, Mangamura disappeared. It’s unclear whether its vanishing act was directly connected to recent developments but a program on national public broadcasting organization NHK, which claimed to have traced the site’s administrators back to the United States, Ukraine, and other regions, can’t have helped.

Further details released this morning reveal the intense pressure Mangamura was under. With 100 million visits a month it was bound to attract attention and according to Mainichi, several publishing giants ran out of patience last year and reported the platform to the authorities.

Kodansha, Japan’s largest publisher, and three other companies filed criminal complaints with Fukuoka Prefectural Police, Oita Prefectural Police, and other law enforcement departments, claiming the site violated their rights.

“The complaints, which were lodged against an unknown suspect or suspects, were filed on behalf of manga artists who are copyright holders to the pirated works, including Hajime Isayama and Eiichiro Oda, known for their wildly popular ‘Shingeki no Kyojin’ (‘Attack on Titan,’ published by Kodansha) and ‘One Piece’ (Shueisha Inc.), respectively,” the publication reports.

Mangamura launch in January 2016 and became a huge hit in Japan. Anti-piracy group Content Overseas Distribution Association (CODA), which counts publishing giant Kodansha among its members, reports that between September 2017 and February 2018, the site was accessed 620 million times.

Based on a “one visit, one manga title read” formula, CODA estimates that the site caused damages to the manga industry of 319.2 billion yen – around US$2.91 billion.

As a result, police are now stepping up their efforts to identify Mangamura’s operators. Whether that will prove fruitful will remain to be seen but in the meantime, Japan’s site-blocking efforts continue to cause controversy.

As reported last month, lawyer and NTT customer Yuichi Nakazawa launched legal action against NTT, demanding that the corporation immediately end its site-blocking operations.

“NTT’s decision was made arbitrarily on the site without any legal basis. No matter how legitimate the objective of copyright infringement is, it is very dangerous,” Nakazawa told TorrentFreak.

“I felt that ‘freedom,’ which is an important value of the Internet, was threatened. Actually, when the interruption of communications had begun, the company thought it would be impossible to reverse the situation, so I filed a lawsuit at this stage.”

Japan’s Constitution and its Telecommunications Business Act both have “no censorship” clauses, meaning that site-blocking has the potential to be ruled illegal. It’s also illegal in Japan to invade the privacy of Internet users’ communications, which some observers have argued is necessary if users are to be prevented from accessing pirate sites.

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and more. We also have VPN reviews, discounts, offers and coupons.

ISP Sued For Breaching User Privacy After Blocking Pirate Sites

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/isp-sued-for-breaching-user-privacy-after-blocking-pirate-sites-180428/

After hinting at moves to curb online piracy last month, on April 13 the Japanese government announced
emergency measures to target websites hosting pirated manga, anime and other types of content.

In common with dozens of counterparts around the world, the government said it favored site-blocking as the first line of defense. However, with no specific legislation to fall back on, authorities asked local ISPs if they’d come along for the ride voluntarily. On Monday, the Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corp. (NTT) announced that it would.

“We have taken short-term emergency measures until legal systems on site-blocking are implemented,” NTT in a statement.

NTT Communications Corp., NTT Docomo Inc. and NTT Plala Inc., said they would target three sites highlighted by the government – Mangamura, AniTube! and MioMio – which together have a huge following in Japan.

The service providers added that at least in the short-term, they would prevent access to the sites using DNS blocking and would restrict access to other sites if requested to do so by the government. But, just a few days on, NTT is already facing problems.

Lawyer Yuichi Nakazawa has now launched legal action against NTT, demanding that the corporation immediately ends its site-blocking operations.

The complaint, filed at the Tokyo District Court, notes that the lawyer uses an Internet connection provided by NTT. Crucially, it also states that in order to block access to the sites in question, NTT would need to spy on customers’ Internet connections to find out if they’re trying to access the banned sites.

The lawyer informs TorrentFreak that the ISP’s decision prompted him into action.

“NTT’s decision was made arbitrarily on the site without any legal basis. No matter how legitimate the objective of copyright infringement is, it is very dangerous,” Nakazawa explains.

“I felt that ‘freedom,’ which is an important value of the Internet, was threatened. Actually, when the interruption of communications had begun, the company thought it would be impossible to reverse the situation, so I filed a lawsuit at this stage.”

Breaches of privacy could present a significant problem under Japanese law. The Telecommunications Business Act guarantees privacy of communications and prevents censorship, as does Article 21 of the Constitution.

“The secrecy of communications being handled by a telecommunications carrier shall not be violated,” the Telecommunications Business Act states, adding that “no communications being handled by a telecommunications carrier shall be censored.”

The Constitution is also clear, stating that “no censorship shall be maintained, nor shall the secrecy of any means of communication be violated.”

For his part, lawyer Yuichi Nakazawa is also concerned that his contract with the ISP is being breached.

“There is an Internet connection agreement between me and NTT. I am a customer of NTT. There is no provision in the contract between me and NTT to allow arbitrary interruption of communications,” he explains.

Nakazawa doesn’t appear to be against site-blocking per se, he’s just concerned that relevant laws and agreements are being broken.

“It is necessary to restrict sites of pirated publications but that does not mean you can do anything,” Nakazawa said, as quoted by Mainichi. “We should have sufficient discussions for an appropriate measure, including revising the law.”

The question of whether site-blocking does indeed represent an invasion of privacy will probably come down to how the ISP implements it and how that is interpreted by the courts.

A source familiar with the situation told TF that spying on user connections is clearly a problem but the deployment of an outer network firewall rule that simply prevents traffic passing through might be viewed differently.

Such a rule would provide no secret or private information that wasn’t already available to the ISP when the customer requested a banned site through a web browser, although it still falls foul of the “no censorship” requirements of both the Constitution and Telecommunications Business Act.

NTT Communications has declined to comment on the lawsuit but says it had no plans to backtrack on plans to block the sites. Earlier this week, SoftBank Corp., another ISP considering a blockade, expressed concerns that site-blocking has the potential to infringe secrecy of communications rules.

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and more. We also have VPN reviews, discounts, offers and coupons.

Japan ISP Says it Will Voluntarily Block Pirate Sites as Major Portal Disappears

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/japan-isp-says-it-will-voluntarily-block-pirate-sites-as-major-portal-disappears-180424/

Speaking at a news conference during March, Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said that the government was considering measures to prohibit access to pirate sites. The country’s manga and anime industries were treasures worth protecting, Suga said.

“The damage is getting worse. We are considering the possibilities of all measures including site blocking. I would like to take countermeasures as soon as possible under the cooperation of the relevant ministries and agencies,” he added.

But with no specific legislation that allows for site-blocking, particularly not on copyright infringement grounds, it appeared that Japan might face an uphill struggle. Indeed, the country’s constitution supports freedom of speech and expressly forbids censorship. Earlier this month, however, matters quickly began to progress.

On Friday April 13, the government said it would introduce an emergency measure to target websites hosting pirated manga, anime and other types of content. It would not force ISPs to comply with its blocking requests but would simply ask for their assistance instead.

The aim was to establish cooperation in advance of an expansion of legislation later this year which was originally introduced to tackle the menace of child pornography.

“Our country’s content industry could be denied a future if manga artists and other creators are robbed of proceeds that should go to them,” said Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

The government didn’t have to wait long for a response. The Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corp. (NTT) announced yesterday that it will begin blocking access to sites that provide unauthorized access to copyrighted content.

“We have taken short-term emergency measures until legal systems on site-blocking are implemented,” NTT in a statement.

NTT Communications Corp., NTT Docomo Inc. and NTT Plala Inc., will block access to three sites previously identified by the government – Mangamura, AniTube! and MioMio which have a particularly large following in Japan.

NTT said that it will also restrict access to other sites if requested to do so by the government. The company added that at least in the short-term, it will prevent access to the sites using DNS blocking.

While Anitube and MioMio will be blocked in due course, Mangamura has already disappeared from the Internet. The site was reportedly attracting 100 million visits per month but on April 17 went offline following an apparent voluntary shutdown by its administrators.

AnimeNewsNetwork notes that a news program on NHK dedicated to Mangamura aired last Wednesday. A second episode will reportedly focus on the site’s administrators which NHK claims can be traced back to the United States, Ukraine, and other regions. Whether this exposé played a part in the site’s closure is unclear but that kind of publicity is rarely welcome in the piracy scene.

To date, just three sites have been named by the government as particularly problematic but it’s now promising to set up a consultation on a further response. A bill will also be submitted to parliament to target sites that promote links to content hosted elsewhere, an activity which is not illegal under current law.

Two other major access providers in Japan, KDDI Corp. and SoftBank Corp., have told local media that their plans to block pirate sites have not yet been finalized.

“The fact that neglecting the situation of infringement of copyright etc. cannot be overlooked is recognized and it is recognized as an important problem to be addressed urgently,” Softbank said in a statement.

“However, since there is concern that blocking infringes secrecy of communications, we need careful discussion. We would like to collaborate with industry organizations involved in telecommunications and consider measures that can be taken from various viewpoints, such as laws, institutions, and operation methods.”

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and more. We also have VPN reviews, discounts, offers and coupons.