No more manga scans!

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No more manga scans!

Post by Naku on Sat Apr 24, 2010 10:56 pm

2 related articles I found.

Shonen Jump has published an editorial threatening those who illegally copy its manga on the Internet with legal or criminal sanctions, and decrying all who would “wound the souls of mangaka.”

The statement, which studiously avoids mentioning the putative effect on manga sales such illegal distribution has in favour of concentrating on the supposed devastating impact on the sensitive feelings of mangaka:

To our readers,

The Internet is now overflowing with illegal copies of manga. All of these illegal copies run counter to the wishes of mangaka. They also ignore the wishes of the creator as to how the manga should be read.

It may be done without much thought, but in reality it hurts the mangaka who pour their creative talents into these works, and it is also against the law.

When we discover such illegal copies, we discuss possible measures with the mangaka concerned and try to tackle the problem, but there are so many heartless people around that it is just impossible for us to tackle them all.

This is a plea to our readers. Illicit copies of manga harm manga culture, infringe the rights of mangaka, and most importantly of all they deeply wound the souls of mangaka. Please also understand that it is illegal.

From now on Shueisha will, in collaboration with mangaka, deal more harshly with any illegal copies circulating on the Internet.

We hope we can count on the unchanging support of all our readers in this endeavour.

The Weekly Shonen Jump Editorial Staff

In Japan, most illicit scans of such works appear to circulate on encrypted P2P networks, traditionally a major obstacle to rightsholders seeking to battle infringer.

However, the Japanese police have been successful in reverse engineering the protocols used in developmentally stalled software like Winny and Share, even setting up a national P2P surveillance centre, so it seems Shueisha may join the ranks of companies already trying to stem the tide by having police arrest distributors and readers alike.

Whilst their concern over their copyright being violated so freely is understandable, it has to be said that major publishers have yet to make any credible effort to serve the needs of an emerging demographic of readers, both within Japan and outside it, who would rather read manga on a screen than squint at the badly printed dead tree version.

In fact their business model has remained unchanged for decades now, and confronted with plummeting sales those in the industry are concerned that manga is losing its creative edge – in the face of this Shueisha apparently instead intends to confront the wicked manga sharers in much the same way as the recording industry did a decade ago; just whether they will fail as spectacularly remains to be seen, but does seem extraordinarily likely.


It seems Shonen Jump’s ultimatum to readers to stop uploading its manga online or face legal consequences is in response to publishers’ deeply held fears about a loss of control over their mangaka and a collapse in magazine sales, say commentators.

Illicit online distribution is claimed to have a disastrous effect on sales, but one of the most popularly pirated titles, One Piece, recently set a national sales record with is 57th volume, selling 3,000,000 copies in its first edition alone. In total it is said to have sold 185,000,000 copies. Sales of magazines meanwhile have steadily declined.

The overseas popularity of titles like Naruto, Haruhi, and Lucky Star is also said to have to have been based largely on illicit online distribution – certainly Kadokawa and company never marketed them at all overseas.

Some consider the real reason for Shueisha’s anger at illegal scans to be quite different to what the publisher would have fans believe – one journalist claims that the real fear of publishers is actually digital distribution as a whole, and the disruption it threatens to the manga industry’s traditional control over mangaka.

He points out that the main earner for mangaka is not serialised magazine sales but sales of the compiled volumes, or tankobon, much as it is sales of the DVD over TV broadcasts in the world of anime.

With illegal uploads sales are indeed impacted, so some mangaka have responded by simply publishing the serialisation on their homepage and relying on tankobon sales – a growing proportion are said to not to care if the serialisation takes place online, as ultimately it serves only as an advertisement for the tankobon.

“So the publishers are increasingly having trouble tying mangaka to their magazines. For example, were an Internet company come along and buy up the manuscripts, and then publish them online as a ‘web magazine,’ it’s possible the entire structure of the manga industry would be changed.”
Publishers, especially Japan’s giant publishing houses, deeply fear disruptions to their established way of doing things, but with new technology change is inevitable."

Online distribution, far from “wounding” mangaka as Shueisha claims, may actually free them from the control of traditional publishers – in the process destroying paper sales, which may be what publishers fear the most.

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