The popularity of pirated comics is a thorn in the side of many publishers. Manga publishers, in particular, are faced with a constant stream of infringing copies.
This includes the Japanese company Shogakukan, which is part of the Hitotsubashi Group and publisher of many prominent manga magazines.
To curb online piracy Shogakukan uses various anti-piracy tactics, ranging from full-fledged copyright lawsuits to sending DMCA takedown notices. The latter are often directed at Google, which is asked to remove links to pirate URLs.
Over the past several years, the publisher has asked Google to take down more than 1.5 million links from over 3,000 different domains. In most cases, these URLs indeed point to infringing content, but that’s certainly not always the case.
This week we stumbled upon a DMCA notice where Shogakukan’s anti-piracy partner Comeso asked Google to remove a page from Dictionary.com, one of the largest online dictionaries. Apparently, the page for the word ‘magi’ is seen as copyright-infringing.
Magi is the name of a manga comic from the publisher, which is likely why it was targeted. However, magi is a proper word as well, referring to the Bible’s three wise men, among other things. The dictionary.com page has nothing to do with the comic.
This is something Shogakukan should know as the company is also a publisher of dictionaries itself, which makes the takedown notice stand out even more.
That said, everyone can make mistakes. Shogakukan is not the only rightsholder to slip up. In fact, it’s not the only one to target Dictionary.com either.
On the same day that the anime publisher’s takedown notice appeared, JTBC asked Google to remove the dictionary entry for ‘noblewoman,’ because it’s similar to the name of the Korean TV-show The Noblesse.
While it’s worrying to see that these obvious mistakes are still commonly made, the good news is that Google is adept at catching these errors. The search engine appears to have a whitelist for non-infringing domains. Perhaps that’s something copyright holders and their anti-piracy agents should consider as well?