Manga comics are popular around the globe in a content category that has seen piracy grow significantly in recent years.
This popularity is also apparent in manga’s home country Japan, where several dedicated pirate sites are active.
Publishers are working hard to counter this trend and last month they turned to a U.S. court for help. Working with the Japanese anti-piracy group CODA, manga publisher Shueisha obtained a DMCA subpoena that required Cloudflare to uncover the identities of several pirate site operators.
This legal strategy doesn’t always pay off as some site operators use strawmen and fake data, but in this case, the publisher struck gold. Soon after the subpoena was issued, Japan’s largest manga piracy site 13DL.to stopped releasing new content.
New uploads stopped appearing three days after the DMCA subpoena to Cloudflare was issued and the site’s operator later confirmed that the site has shut down for good. At the time of writing, it’s no longer operational.
This is a major win for the publishers as 13DL.to had an estimated 25 million monthly visits, mostly from Japan. The site listed links to fresh manga releases which were distributed through external file-hosting platforms such as RapidGator, TakeFile, Novafile, WupFile, and HexUpload.
Several of these hosting sites were also targeted in the DMCA subpoena obtained by the publisher, after they were first targeted in a regular DMCA notice, listed below.
According to CODA, the operator of 13DL was responsible for uploading the pirated comics to these third-party sites. This provided a source of revenue through the affiliate payments these cyberlockers offer.
CODA notes that Cloudflare has yet to respond to the DMCA subpoena but is expected to do so this month. In addition to information on 13DL, platforms including takefile.link, novafile.org, wupfile.com, hexupload.net, and manga-zip.is are also part of the legal request.
In addition to the Cloudflare probe, CODA is also working with the publishers and ‘ethical hackers’ to explore other options to uncover the identity of 13DL’s operator. This includes going after one of the aforementioned cyberlockers, which is presumably operated from Scandinavia.
The latter action was prompted by a ‘final present’ the operator shared with users. The gift is a file containing download links to 180,000 pirated manga works that was shared after the site announced its shutdown.
“CODA, in cooperation with the rights holders, attorney Nakajima, and ethical hackers, is currently requesting procedures from a local law firm in Scandinavia, where the cyberocker is believed to operate, in order to promptly file a sender information disclosure request regarding the distribution of the ‘final present’.
“We will use every means at our disposal to identify the operator,” CODA notes in its press release.
Following 13DL’s demise several copycat sites appeared, using the 13DL brand in an attempt to fill the void. According to CODA, people should stay away from these sources, for their own safety.
“[These sites are] operated by criminals, and you may be infected with malicious malware by clicking on ads or downloading infringing material. Please be careful not to access these sites,” the group warns.