Google & Cloudflare Must Share Traffic Stats in Manga Piracy Case

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Several major manga publishers are trying to recoup millions of dollars in damages from the operator of Mangamura, which was once the largest manga piracy site. To substantiate their claim in a Japanese lawsuit, the publishers took a detour through a U.S. court that recently granted a subpoena, requiring Google and Cloudflare to share traffic stats and other personal data.

mangaManga comics have always been popular on pirate sites but where other categories have seen stalled growth, manga piracy boomed.

This unauthorized activity has not gone unnoticed by publishers, who’ve made it clear that piracy will not be tolerated, especially in Japan.

Publishers are tackling the problem by ramping up enforcement. This recently led to a major success when a Cloudflare probe helped to shut down 13DL, Japan’s largest pirate site.

Mangamura Shutdown

These enforcement efforts are intensifying but they are not new. Back in 2019, Japanese authorities arrested the operator of Mangamura, the leading manga piracy site at the time.

Mangamura had only been around for roughly two years but according to Japan-based anti-piracy group CODA, it caused well over $2 billion in damages to the local manga industry. The operator of the site, Romi Hoshino, was held responsible and eventually pleaded guilty in a criminal prosecution.

In 2021 the Fukuoka District Court sentenced Hoshino to three years in prison and over $650,000 in fines. That was a major win for the publishers, but they still weren’t done.

Publishers Want Millions

Last year, manga publishers Kodakawa, Shogakukan, and Shueisha filed a civil lawsuit against the former operator of Mangamura. Together, the companies requested 1.9 billion yen in damages. That’s close to US$13 million based on today’s exchange rate, without taking into account the 5% interest rate on top.

According to the complaint, Mangamura had around 100 million monthly visits at its peak. This arguably made it one of the largest pirate sites in history with Hoshino, who is now in his early thirties, as the main defendant.

To back up these claims and formulate a claim for damages, the publishers started to verify the site’s traffic statistics. They also hoped to find more evidence of Hoshino’s personal involvement. This quest eventually brought them to the U.S., as Mangamura used the services of both Google and Cloudflare.

Help from Google and Cloudflare

A few weeks ago the rightsholders made an appearance at a California federal court where they requested a subpoena to obtain detailed information from these two American tech companies. According to the court filing, the requested details are critical.

“[T]he number of visits or accesses to each of the Infringing Websites and the identifying information relating to the Mangamura would be critical in the Lawsuit,” the publishers wrote, adding that Google and Cloudflare are the only parties that can provide access to it.

The request landed on the desk of U.S. Magistrate Judge Sallie Kim who, after reviewing all the arguments, recommended the court grant the subpoena. Neither Google nor Cloudflare objected or made an appearance.

In a report and recommendations, Judge Kim concludes that all statutory and discretionary factors weigh in favor of granting the subpoena. The requested information is targeted enough and appears to be vital to the ongoing legal battle in Japan.

“[D]iscovery sought does not appear unduly burdensome or intrusive. Petitioners’ request is narrowly tailored to seek the website analytics necessary to calculate damages in their suit and identifying information solely for the registered account holder and registered billing contact for Mangamura,” Judge Kim wrote.

A few days ago, District Court Judge Vince Chhabria took over this recommendation, granting the subpoena.

Analytics, IP-addresses, and More

The subpoenas seek information about accounts related to “” and “”. This includes traffic statistics, including the number of visitors these domains received.


In addition, the Manga publishers are also looking for all names, phone numbers, email addresses and billing addresses, payment methods, IP addresses, and access logs that are tied to the accounts.

more info


Whether Google and Cloudflare can deliver the requested information has yet to be seen. In any case, the publishers are determined to hold the operator of the defunct site financially responsible for the damages they suffered.

The Japanese complaint mentions that Hoshino likely had help from co-conspirators but no other names are listed. The Tokyo District Court did previously fine two advertising companies for placing ads on Mangamura. Neither of these companies are listed in the publishers’ civil lawsuit.

Despite the fact that there’s only a single target in the Japanese lawsuit, the publishers hope that their legal action will eventually make other pirate site operators rethink their actions.

“We hope that the lawsuit will be conveyed to operators around the world and will deter them [from pirating],” Shueisha’s head of PR, Atsushi Ito, previously said.

A copy of U.S. Magistrate Judge Sallie Kim’s report and recommendations in available here (pdf), and the order granting the subpoenas can be found here (pdf)


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