Photo/IllutrationThe pirated manga site Mangamura was closed in April 2018. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)

  • Photo/Illustraion

Despite publishers’ aggressive efforts to eradicate pirated manga, fans in Japan are keeping hundreds of websites alive that offer illegal access to myriads of titles.

Every year, 200 or so pirated manga sites are forced to shut down, and Mangamura (Manga village), Japan's most notorious service provider, closed in April 2018.

Still, a publishing industry survey warns that felling the giant hasn't come anywhere close to stopping online purveyors of pirated manga.

The 10 most popular pirated manga sites logged 65.51 million hits a month from domestic readers, according to a November survey by the Shuppan Koho Center (Publication publicity center), which comprises nine publishers organizations.

The Tokyo-based center slots illicit manga providers into four groups: websites on which people can read manga; sites where manga can be downloaded; page-by-page streaming sites; and social media accounts.

The center found 500 to 600 piracy sites operating in Japan and abroad, many of which used servers and services outside Japan, such as the Netherlands, Switzerland and Eastern Europe.

A majority provided download services, and many of them were so-called leech sites that list links to cyberlockers, an online file-sharing service where users can download pirated manga.

Between October 2017 and September 2018, a task force set up by publishers sent 697,873 requests to cyberlockers demanding they delete illegally uploaded works and 7,858 requests to leech sites asking them to erase links to cyberlockers.

While 95.2 percent of cyberlockers complied, only 12.3 percent of leech sites deleted the links apparently because displaying the links is not necessarily deemed illegal.

“Pirated manga sites pose a serious threat to Japan’s content industry, and they are in part supported by fans,” said Atsushi Ito, who heads the working group against pirated manga under the Shuppan Koho Center.

“In addition to leech sites, downloading of content that violates the Copyright Law must be regulated.”