Online anime, manga piracy caused 2 tril. yen loss in 2021: watchdog

Kyodo News

Posted at Apr 22 2023 12:20 AM

A staff member speaks to a reporter in a room of the anime concept hotel, EJ Anime Hotel, in Tokorozawa, near Tokyo, Japan, 30 September 2020. EPA-EFE/FRANCK ROBICHON

TOKYO—Online piracy of Japanese entertainment, including manga, anime, and video games, caused losses of around 2 trillion yen ($15 billion) in 2021, marking a five-fold increase from 2019, according to a study released Friday by a Tokyo-based watchdog.

The Content Overseas Distribution Association believes the sharp rise was attributable to people spending more time indoors on entertainment content during the coronavirus pandemic, as well as greater uptake of streaming services.

The survey covered four entertainment categories of video, published content, video games and music. Based on market surveys and consumer questionnaires, the association estimated that the losses to rights holders amounted to between 1.9 and 2.2 trillion yen.

By medium, a major proportion of the losses was estimated to have come from anime and other video content, with 906.5 billion to 1.4 trillion yen.

Manga comics and other published media were projected to have lost 395.2 billion to 831.1 billion yen.

Seeking to thwart copyright infringement of Japanese media content, the association was founded in 2002 with support from the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry and the Agency for Cultural Affairs. It counts film, music and animation companies among its members.

Since 2021, the association has stepped up its efforts to shut down pirate websites by working with cybersecurity experts and focusing on identifying the operators behind the illegal sites.

In a sign of its increasing effectiveness at stopping piracy, the association revealed Thursday that Brazilian authorities had taken down 36 websites hosting pirated Japanese anime for people living in the country.

It said it was the first case of foreign sites hosting content for local viewing taken down after its member Japanese animation companies filed criminal complaints.

The authorities in Brazil first examined the operators of four websites following criminal complaints filed last year by Toei Animation Co., Toho Co. and Bandai Namco Filmworks Inc., all members of the association.

The websites as well as nine related sites were shut down. Through negotiations with the operators of other pirate websites, an additional 18 sites were closed down, while five were voluntarily shuttered, according to the association.

The 36 sites were accessed around 83 million times on average per month between December last year and February, it said.

In March, the association also said Chinese authorities had taken down a major website based in the country that was hosting pirated Japanese anime for people living in Japan.