Over the years, many piracy-related sites and services have been accused of facilitating massive copyright infringement but on sheer scale, few come close to now-shuttered manga site Mangamura.
According to Japan-based anti-piracy group CODA, Mangamura caused around $2.91 billion in damages to the local manga industry. And that was from a standing start in 2016.
While the site closed in 2018, apparently voluntarily, authorities worked to bring its alleged operator to justice. In July 2019 there was a breakthrough when the Bureau of Immigration in the Philippines announced they’d arrested the Japanese-German-Israeli “fugitive” Romi Hoshino.
The 28-year-old, also known online as Zakay/Sakay, was arrested at Ninoy Aquino International Airport as he attempted to board a plane to Hong Kong. The arrest was coordinated with Japanese authorities who were seeking his deportation to face charges connected with the operation of Mangamura.
After reportedly being held in custody at a detention facility in Taguig City, Hoshino boarded a deportation flight to Japan yesterday. Once onboard, he was arrested by Japanese police and flown to Narita Airport, near Tokyo.
A Mainichi report states that Hoshino was arrested in Japan under suspicion of copyright violations.
A video shot at the airport shows the suspect wearing a blue t-shirt displaying the text ‘Manila Mura’ with his personal web address – https://romihoshino.com – printed underneath. That site currently displays a ‘maintenance mode’ message.
Hoshino was interviewed by Japanese police last year, before he flew to the Philippines in May 2018. According to unnamed sources, he denied being involved in the Mangamura site. He further denied fleeing from Japan, instead citing business and other reasons for his departure.
In addition to action against Hoshino, the noose appears to be tightening on other players allegedly involved in Mangamura.
Earlier this month, 26-year-old Kota Fujisaki pleaded guilty at Fukuoka District Court to uploading copyrighted images to the site, contrary to copyright law. On the same day, a 24-year-old woman, Shiho Ito, pleaded not guilty to the same charges.
The prosecution claimed that images from the 866th episode of manga series ‘One Piece’ were uploaded to Mangamura from Fujisaki’s home in May 2017, where Ito also lived at the time. It’s further claimed that the pair conspired with Hoshino, with Ito receiving payment for the uploads.