Photo/IllutrationHow the Haruka Yume no Ato site appeared in June before it was shut down (Captured from the website)

  • Photo/Illustraion

Nine people suspected of operating or contributing to a website that listed links for illegal downloading of manga were arrested Oct. 31.

The arrests came three months after police searched the homes of suspects in July, and the so-called leech site Haruka Yume no Ato was closed.

It was one of the biggest sites that list links to manga and other contents uploaded on to the Internet without permission from the copyright holders, and was started back in 2008.

Those arrested ranging in age from 22 to 55 are both male and female, and their residential addresses include Osaka and Kanagawa prefectures and the cities of Okayama and Takamatsu, according to the cybercrime department of the Osaka prefectural police.

They include former postgraduate student Makoto Wauke, 22, from Sakai, Osaka Prefecture, and 23-year-old Takaaki Nariai, a representative of an IT-related company from Toyonaka, Osaka Prefecture.

They are all suspected of violating the Copyright Law, namely the violation of rights of public transmission.

A joint investigation police team from nine prefectures, including Osaka, Chiba and Fukuoka, made the arrests.

Wauke and other operators of the site are alleged to have invited site users to post links to such pirated manga, allowing the wider public to freely download pirated data of popular manga titles such as “Naruto.”

Those arrested are both operators of the site and uploaders of pirated manga.

The site is believed to have provided links to more than 500,000 pirated manga files.

It has been considered difficult to crack down on leech sites on suspicion of Copyright Law infringements because visitors cannot read pirated manga directly on those websites.

However, the police believe a criminal case can be compiled against the operators of Haruka Yume no Ato because they held a vast amount of links for a long period, and also because the site encouraged users to contribute to the list by setting up a contributor ranking system and advertising that they could be paid if their uploaded files proved popular.