‘Mangamura’ Operator Sentenced to 3 Years in Prison

By Bill Toulas / June 3, 2021

The Fukuoka District Court in Japan has handed over a sentence of three years in prison and 72 million Yen ($650,000) in fines to Romi Hoshino, the former owner and operator of Mangamura. This is a now-defunct pirate site that was illegally disseminating copyright-protected manga content to a large number of users of the platform. According to the Japanese anti-piracy group CODA, Mangamura’s operation between 2016 and 2018 caused financial losses of around $2.91 billion to the manga industry.

Mangamura was shut down voluntarily in April 2018, following a massive ISP-level blocking action that targeted the site, as well as AniTube and MioMio. This wasn’t enough to appease the law enforcement authorities in Japan, though, so a criminal investigation was launched by the Tokyo Police, eventually leading to the arrest of Hoshino in Manilla, Philippines, in July 2019.

The judgment time has now come, and the Fukuoka judge, Hiroshi Kamihara, had a very specific and justifiable approach against Hoshino. The three years and 10 million Yen were handed over to the defendant as a punishment for the copyright violations. Moreover, an additional 62 million Yen file is supposed to reflect the advertising revenue that the operator earned from Mangamura’s operation.

So, all in all, the judge wanted to ensure that Hoshino won’t have anything positive left from his piracy activities when he walks as a free man in 2024, sending a clear message to other pirate site owners as well.

A spokesperson of one of the affected publishers, Shueisha, had the following statement to make following the announcement of the court’s ruling: “If a work created with heart and soul is released for free, it will damage the soil where interesting works are born. The prison sentence is appropriate. We expect it will have a deterrent effect.”

Japan has been going through an effort to tighten its manga pirating policy since the beginning of 2019, introducing stricter laws and punishing even users who dare to participate in illegal file-sharing even harsher. Up to a certain point, a notable deterrent effect has been achieved, although manga piracy didn’t stop being a thing on the internet.

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