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.