Ken Akamatsu, the mangaka behind Love Hina, Negima! and more, recently expressed an interest in running for public office to protect creators’ freedom of expression. Whether he does that or not, he’s already doing other work that’s meant to protect creators. He put a lawsuit against two agencies that advertised on the manga piracy site Mangamura, and he won.
For a little background, Mangamura was a major piracy site that cost copyright holders (creators and publishers) approximately $2.92 billion. Akamatsu was one of those creators whose work was stolen, and he proved to the court that his sales dropped as a result of Mangamura. Akamatsu is on the more successful end of being a manga creator, so less well-known creators would be hurt even more by the piracy and not being paid for their work.
Mangamura has been successfully shut down, but there are still piracy sites going on. And some advertising agencies were soliciting advertisements on Mangamura and paying Mangamura for it, normalizing the stealing of other people’s creative works. And that’s why Akamatsu decided to go after the advertising agencies MM Lab and Global Net.
The judge agreed with Akamatsu, and the two agencies have been ordered to pay $96,303 as a result. According to Akamatsu’s lawyer, this is a first for advertisements associated with piracy sites being held liable.
Earlier this year, when the administrator of Mangamura was found guilty and sentenced, a representative for publisher Shueisha responded by saying, “[I]f the works that those who have given their all to create are given away for free, it damages the foundation for the creation of interesting works.”
The administrator got three years in prison and was fined more than $600,000 for all the money he made off pirating other people’s manga. Shueisha expressed hope that this would work as a deterrent from other people being involved in piracy sites.
Danica Davidson is the author of the bestselling Manga Art for Beginners with artist Melanie Westin, and its sequel, Manga Art for Intermediates, with professional Japanese mangaka Rena Saiya. Check out her other comics and books at www.danicadavidson.com.