The popularity of Japanese anime and manga, a particular style of Japanese comic books, has attracted the attention of pirates. Anime and manga piracy has flourished since the pandemic, which costs the growing industry billions of dollars. In 2020, manga sales were slated to reach 612.6 billion yen, which is approximately U.S. $4.6 billion. This exponential growth is due in part to highly successful releases like Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba (“Blade of Demon Destruction”).
In addition to record sales, manga readers have engaged in hacking to illegally get their hands on the latest publications. Through that, manga piracy has accelerated. In 2019, the creator of Manga-Mura, a popular mange pirate site, was sued by worldwide publishers. After they were arrested, a new website, Manga Bank, simply took its place. It is estimated that this new illegal manga site has almost a billion visitors and has cost legitimate publishers more than 200 billion yen (U.S. 1.5 billion). After enjoying this profit, this site has been shut down as well.
Illegal manga publishing platforms continue to thrive, mostly hosted on offshore servers. Therefore, it will take an international effort to fight against manga piracy. The Authorized Books of Japan (ABJ) is an organization that seeks to raise awareness and fight this piracy problem. The group is made up of distribution platforms and publishers spanning ten countries, including Japan, China and the U.S. With plans to launch in April, the organization will be managed by the Content Overseas Distribution Association (CODA).
Manga piracy hurts new and lesser-known designers and publishers most of all. This is because they rely on online publication, which compromises their intellectual property rights and puts them at greater risk of piracy and copyright infringement. Since they have not been physically published in magazines, the internet is their sole channel of distribution.