The Fukuoka and Oita prefectural police forces are investigating the Mangamura piracy site after Kodansha, Shueisha, and two other publishers filed criminal complaints last year. The Mainichi Shimbun reported that the publishers filed the complaints on the behalf of manga artists like Hajime Isayama (Attack on Titan) and Eiichiro Oda (One Piece).
According to the Content Overseas Distribution Association (CODA), Mangamura’s copyright violations led to an estimated 319.2 billion yen ($2.911 billion) in damages. The website received approximately 620 million visits between September 2017 to February 2018, before it was shut down in April. Investigators don’t know if Mangamura shut down voluntarily or in response to the Japanese government’s goal of blocking access to piracy sites. Mangamura launched in January 2016 and quickly become a favorite destination for readers. Investigators believed Mangamura profited from ad revenue.
Sources that spoke to The Mainichi Shimbun said that they have at least one suspect. A web expert revealed that Mangamura was owned by a production company based in Seychelles, which is off the coast of East Africa. A closer look has led investigators to an American company that was set up by a Japanese man. The police’s main goal is to identify the developer of Mangamura.
The Japanese government and law enforcement agencies have escalated their fight against entertainment pirates. Piracy has grown popular in Japan, which prompted the government to introduce “emergency measures” to have the country’s ISPs block access to piracy sites. NTT Communications Corp. and its other companies are complying with the government’s request.
Mangamura, AniTube!, and MioMio were the three sites to be targeted by the government, with Mangamura being the only one under investigation.