Alleged Mastermind of Giant Pirate Manga Site Arrested in Manilla

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The alleged former operator of Mangamura, a site blamed for causing an estimated $2.9 billion in damages to the Japanese manga industry, has been detained in Manilla. According to immigration officials in the Philippines, 28-year-old Romi Hoshino was arrested Sunday when attempting to board a plane to Hong Kong.

During April 2018, the Japanese government introduced emergency website-blocking measures aimed at reducing levels of copyright infringement in the country.

Several ISPs responded by blocking three leading pirate sites including Mangamura, AniTube! and MioMio, all of which had huge followings in Japan.

As the largest player, Mangamura was of particular interest. Founded in 2016, the manga-focused site was blamed for facilitating huge volumes of pirate downloads. Using a one-visit, one-infringement calculation, local anti-piracy group CODA estimated damages to the manga industry of around $2.91 billion.

Just days after the web-blocking announcement Mangamura disappeared, but police in Japan said they were still focused on catching its operator. Authorities in the Philippines say that person is now in custody.

According to an announcement from the Bureau of Immigration, on Sunday its agents arrested a Japanese-German-Israeli fugitive wanted by Japanese authorities for breaches of copyright law.

An intelligence officer of the Bureau’s Fugitive Search Unit (FSU) is said to have identified 28-year-old Romi Hoshinko (aka Zakay/Sakay Romi) at Ninoy Aquino International Airport as the person wanted in connection with running Mangamura between January 2016 and April 2018.

ABS-CBN published a photo of the arrested man on Twitter.

The allegations of infringement against Hoshino are several times greater than those leveled at Kim Dotcom and Megaupload. In this case, however, there won’t be a drawn-out extradition battle when expelling Hoshino, a foreign national, from the country.

Philippines authorities say that after acting on a request from the Embassy of Japan in Manilla, the arrest of Hoshino was carried out in coordination with police in Tokyo. This will now lead to his deportation from the country.

“His presence in the country is a risk to public safety and security,” said Bureau of Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente.

“We are in close coordination with our foreign counterparts who send us information about criminals who might be hiding in the Philippines. Upon knowledge, we immediately seek, arrest, and deport these fugitives.

“The Japanese embassy informed us that they will conduct the necessary coordination with the Israeli and German Embassy regarding the fugitive’s deportation to Japan,” he concluded.

In the meantime, Hoshino will be detained at a detention facility in Taguig City.


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