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Entertainment, Food & Beverage

Publishers, Japan take on pirated, foreign-language versions of manga online

Japanese government taking action on pirated foreign-language version of Japanese manga
The Straits Times - April 22, 2014
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Publishers, Japan take on pirated, foreign-language versions of manga online

As more and more pirated, foreign-language versions of Japanese manga have been posted online, the Japanese government and comics publishers plan to reinforce countermeasures to protect the nation's highly competitive content industry.

Some Japanese comics have been unofficially translated into English, and these pirated versions have been posted on multiple Internet sites several days before they are published in Japanese weekly magazines, The Yomiuri Shimbun has learned.

As these pirated versions could give a blow to the nation's content industry - one of Japan's leading sectors as Japanese manga are popular overseas - the government aims to revise the Copyright Law to better tackle these pirated versions, while publishers are trying to promote the foreign language versions they have produced.

For example, Kadokawa Corp., a major publishing company, in March launched a site called ComicWalker through which users can read about 200 comics and other works that are currently running in its magazines free via personal computers and smartphones. Of these works, about 40 are translated into both English and Chinese.

These official foreign-language versions are also free because Kadokawa aims to wipe out pirated versions of its works on the Internet. Kadokawa also hopes to sell the official foreign language works as digital books in the future if these versions become more popular.

In December, mobile game provider DeNA Co. started a web magazine called MangaBox. Through a smartphone app, users can read the manga free. The app currently allows access to about 40 works, for which English and Chinese versions are also available.

In May, DeNA, with a publishing partner, is scheduled to release print and digital books of Japanese versions of the manga on MangaBox, while also considering producing digital books for the foreign language versions. By providing the official foreign-language versions, DeNA also is aiming to differentiate the manga from pirated works, thus hoping to make the official manga into a profitable business.

The government aims to revise the Copyright Law during the current Diet session to pave the way for not only authors but also publishing companies to file injunctions against pirated versions posted online.

The Economy, Trade and Industry Ministry has been working on creating a scheme under which it will register copyright holders of animated works and manga with a database so that they can be informed if pirated versions of their works are posted online.

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