8 June 2020CopyrightRory O'Neill

Japan agrees new laws to tackle manga pirates

Japan is set to enact a formal ban on illegal manga downloads, as the country continues to grapple with online piracy of one of its most famous cultural exports.

The National Diet, Japan’s parliament, has passed an update to the country’s copyright laws which will extend anti-piracy provisions to manga, magazines, and academic texts,  The Japan Times reports.

The law, which will come into effect on October 1, has been under consideration for more than a year and is just the latest sign that Japan is taking online manga piracy more seriously.

Last July, Filipino police arrested a man suspected of being behind Manga-Mura—a Japanese pirate manga website which a copyright monitoring group claimed cost publishers $3 billion in revenue.

Romi Hoshino has since been deported to Japan to face charges related to what the  Content Overseas Distribution Association (CODA) estimated to be Japan’s “worst-ever” copyright violation.

The website was shut down in April 2018, having been subjected to unprecedented site-blocking orders.

The new legislation passed by the Diet will extend the scope of anti-piracy laws which previously only covered music and videos.

It also includes a ban on so-called “leech websites” which provide hyperlinks to torrent files of pirate material, The Japan Times adds. Those found to be operating a leech website will face up to five years in prison or a maximum fine of ¥5 million ($45,690). These provisions will come into effect earlier than the rest of the law, on October 1.

The law provides for exemptions including parody works and unintentional screenshots featuring copyright-protected material.

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