Top manga publishers are vowing a legal crackdown on sites wicked enough to post spoilers about the plot of such gems as Naruto and One Piece, blaming them for their declining sales, and have already threatened one of one of the largest such sites into virtual closure.
According to comments from the administrator of major Naruto spoiler site “Naruto Channel” received a message from a publisher indicating that “we would be grateful if you would be so kind as to delete your articles and close your site.”
Terrified, they swiftly deleted all their spoiler information and links, announcing no further such coverage of Naruto or One Piece would follow.
The publisher revealed in discussions that although the publishing industry formerly ignored the posting of spoilers, with many sites posting almost the entirety of the manga whose story elements they were covering and with sales of manga continuing to decline, now they are apparently determined to take “stern measures” to deal with anyone so keen on their manga as to bother checking 0-day spoiler sites for news of Naruto’s latest jutsu.
Target sites are “just think of them as any who come up at the top of a search,” although they will at least be comforted to know that publishers “want to deal with them quietly without taking sudden legal action with no warning.”
This is reputedly because lawsuits are a costly hassle rather than out of any niceness on their part, and the admin of the site being shut down in any case says “legal action without warning seems likely.”
There is some suggestion that publishers may have worked out that Internet coverage is now probably the main driver of new sales though, as they do promise mercy to some sites – those “recognised as having made a contribution to the spread of manga culture will not be deprived of due consideration.”
They also made clear that whether English or Japanese, the copyright situation is the same and action may be taken, suggesting scanlators may not be safe either.
The implicit assumption that the Internet is to blame for the decline in sales and that it has nothing to do with the publishing industry itself, its refusal to embrace non-paper based distribution and Japan’s demographic situation were soon picked up online – most notably by those who recall how Japan’s music industry secured the full criminalisation of downloading copyrighted material only to see sales collapse even faster than ever, but as with banning anything in Japan it has many defenders too:
“Most of these articles were just reviews of what already happened though. First they stopped people being able to read manga standing in convenience stores, now online. They are doing what the music industry did. They’ll just lose even more readers…”
“How is anyone going to be able to discuss the plot of these titles if nobody knows whether they are allowed to or not…”
“I think you can still post text describing what is going on? Just not pictures or links to pictures?”
“I think an indirect summary of what happened is allowed though.”
“Look, they just want to stop people who follow the entire manga solely through spoiler sites. I’m sure it has nothing to do with reviews.”
“Arrest all those bastards who spoil manga!”
“What next, Photoshop? You guys bash doujinshi all the time but it doesn’t stop you posting endless Photoshops…”
“Use your mouths to talk about it instead!”
In related news a significant portion of the Japanese web eco-system is now in danger of collapse due to similar issues, after elements of 2ch’s administration secured the inclusion of “reproduction prohibited” copyright riders across a score of the site’s most popular boards.
The move instantly deprived scores of the thousands of 2ch “matome” sites who copy 2ch threads into articles – minus all the spam and copy-pasted racist epithets about China and Korea whilst being presented in a manner looking as if it was invented in the last 30 years – of their only source of content.
A recent Japanese court ruling which found matome sites, tweets and SNS post can all be sued for slander just for reposting what goes on on 2ch and other such sites has done little to help matters.
That 2ch itself completely ignores the copyright of the sites whose content its users reproduce whilst even hosting a variety of piracy related boards as usual did not enter into the matter, and nor did the extant but apparently unknown right of fair use.
As is the way with anything 2ch-related, the conventional hypothesis that it was all because the core of 2ch just viscerally hates matome sites was soon joined by alternative explanations involving figure skating loving Koreans and their long-running efforts to hack the site into oblivion.
In this case it was a Korean-language post on a major Korean forum which described the move as part of an subversive effort to side-line the opinions of 2ch’s “net-uyo” by stopping their crazed rightist spiels continuously being reposted over the rest of the Japanese Internet…