One of the worst things someone can do is to infringe upon someone else’s IP (intellectual property). Companies like Nintendo have been able to shut down those who were creating and distributing torrents of roms and emulators. Manga publishers Shueisha, Kadowaka, Kodansha, and Shogakukan are on a mission to make sure that their comics are not being distributed illegally. A man in China who was illegally distributing them on a site called MangaBank has now been sentenced and found guilty of doing just that.
Up until 2021, MangaBank was a highly frequented website. In one month they would get around 80 million visitors, making enormous revenue. Publishers of the manga that was being freely read on the site were losing money, so they decided to band together to create one of the largest international lawsuits in history.
An ex parte application at a California district court was filed in October of 2021, which would allow investigation and discovery of information to use in another countries court. MangaBank was analyzed to determine how much damage they were doing to the Manga publisher’s revenue stream.
The lawsuit was still being pursued in China, and the owner of MangaBank has been sentenced for his violation. It’s assumed MangaBank was making thousands of dollars a month based on web traffic, but the fine for the owner was just $4,500. A drop in the bucket for what was really made.
The publishers did get what they wanted, and MangaBank is offline forever. But, the way the owner was found guilty wasn’t what they wanted initially, but it worked in this case. The site blocked China, and the court found he wasn’t guilty of copyright claims in that country. They did find him guilty of a violation of Article 2 of the Regulations on the Protection of the Rights to Disseminate Information on the Information Network, however.
This lawsuit is expected to act as a precedent for any similar in the case in the future. As always, stick to buying your manga, comics, and media through official channels. It helps the creators, distributors and everyone who works so hard to create it for fans. We’ll have to wait and see if other manga-sharing sites get shut down.