Shueisha’s New US Lawsuit Indicates Complex Investigation *TorrentFreak
In recent years, Japanese manga publishers have sent a strong and clear message that content piracy will not be tolerated anywhere in the world.
The problems encountered by companies such as Shueisha, Kadowaka, Kodansha and Shogakukan are easy to describe but much more difficult to counter.
Operators of Japan-based pirate sites that serve a domestic audience face experienced local investigators, law enforcement, and a relatively high risk of criminal penalties. Those based overseas still have the ability to reach Japanese users, but identifying them presents new legal challenges for publishers. This is also the case when the sites are administered from Japan but use an international infrastructure.
As a result, cross-border investigations and related jurisdictional issues are now common in piracy cases. Thousands of pirate sites use the services of American companies. So whether they’re connected to Cloudflare or processing payments in the US, the risk of publishers seeking help from local courts is now high, as the carrier’s successful lawsuit has shown. MangaBank.
Shueisha seeks help from US court
Following the playbook deployed in the MangaBank case, Shueisha has just filed another ex parte application to the same California district court requesting discovery of information for use in a foreign proceeding (28 US Code § 1782).
Shueisha investigates several manga piracy sites, listed in the app as follows:
mangagohan.com, mangapro.top, gokumanga.com, doki1001.com, manga1001.in, comick.top
The publisher’s legal team claims that the sites published infringing copies of Shueisha’s copyrighted works soon after their commercial release, adding that this is a violation of Japanese and Vietnamese laws.
The reference to Vietnam is based on information provided by Cloudflare. Shueisha previously obtained a DMCA subpoena compelling the CDN company to hand over the personal data of those who are the sites. The leaked information does not identify the individuals, but links them to IP addresses belonging to a pair of telecommunications companies – “Vietnam Posts and Telecommunications Group” and “Vietname Telecom National”.
Vietnam does not allow third-party companies to obtain credentials from Internet users based on copyright infringement claims. Shueisha’s plan is therefore to act on the basis of other information provided by Cloudflare. PayPal, Visa, Mastercard, Google, Braintree and/or Stripe accounts are linked to the site operators and since the companies are based in the United States, Shueisha wants them to hand over everything they hold.
The endgame is to sue site operators in Japan or Vietnam, presumably for copyright infringement, and Shueisha says courts in both countries would appreciate US assistance. There’s no explanation as to why these sites are of particular interest to the editor out of the hundreds online, but potential clues in the app open up interesting avenues of research.
Does the survey cover many more sites?
Research of the domains reveals that they all target consumers of pirated manga in Japan, with no less than 88% and up to 94% of their visitors coming from the country. Another interesting aspect is that the traffic to the sites is either going down (in some cases on the edge of a cliff) or behaving unnaturally.
For example, mangagohan.com had about 1.9 million visits in May, the same in June, but less than half in July. From 1.6 million visits in May, visits to mangapro.top suddenly jumped to 3.6 million in June before dropping to 2.4 million in July. Visits to gokumanga.com in May reached around 2 million, but traffic was less than a quarter of that in July.
The other sites show similarly odd patterns, but doki1001.com stands out as a particularly strong engine. In May, it saw around 13.1 million visits according to SimilarWeb stats, compared to just 1.7 million in July, so what’s behind these wild fluctuations?
Redirects and connections
According to Shueisha, both mangagohan.com and gokumanga.com redirected to mangagohan.me at some point, but that site’s traffic has been declining instead of increasing in recent months.
However, scratch just below the surface for more redirects and a whole new world of potential links appears between the app’s domains and many others, including some that Shueisha is already researching.
– Mangagohan.com (down): Outgoing redirect: mangagohan.me (down)
– Gokumanga.com (down): Outgoing redirect: mangagohan.me (down)
– Mangapro.top (down): Incoming redirects: comick.to, mymangaraw.com, mixmanga.com, 3xmanga.com, upmanga.com, picmanga.com, overmanga.com, padmanga.com, loadmanga.com, mangaair.com, mangatweet.com, mangamenu.com, mangano1. com, mangarip.com. Outgoing redirect: comic.top
– Doki1001.com (down): Incoming redirect: manga-1001.com (existing Shueisha target)
– Manga1001.in (up) – Outgoing redirect: manga9.co (zero traffic in May, 6.4m July)
– Comick.top – (top) – Incoming redirects: padmanga.com, mangano1.com, mangapro.top, mangamenu.com, mangarank.com, mangaair.com, mangatweet.com, mangarip.com, manga1001.top, loadmanga.com. Outgoing redirect: mangapro.top
The limited domain information above suggests that if US companies provide useful and actionable material to Shueisha, a gateway to even greater things may arise. Obviously, there may be an opportunity to weed out many pirate sites, beyond the handful listed in the app.
Shueisha’s app for discovery can be found here (pdf)