While pirate sites offering mainstream movies and TV shows regularly pull in millions of visits every month, just a few years ago it would’ve been unthinkable that those operating in niches could become equally ranked.
These days, however, sites offering Japanese comics and animation are immensely popular with ever-increasing audiences in the West, making some manga and anime sites just as highly visited as their ‘mainstream’ content counterparts.
NyaHentai.com – One of the Large Players
NyaHentai.com is a particularly popular platform. Specializing in the ‘hentai’ genre (adult content with often extraordinary themes), the site has built up a huge audience which, according to SimilarWeb stats, is currently topping 24 million visits per month.
Indeed, NyaHentai is so popular that it is currently the 75th most popular site in Japan, period, and this hasn’t gone unnoticed by copyright holders. At the time of writing, Google reports that more than 7,260 copyright holders have filed complaints requesting the removal of more than 3 million URLs from search results.
While only 53% of those actually resulted in a URL removal, that’s still around 1.6 million delisted URLs. The site is still going strong of course but there is at least one party trying to get closer to its operators.
Complaints Filed With Cloudflare
Late December, Japanese manga artist Maki Murakami filed DMCA complaints with Cloudflare, alleging that a number of pirate sites were infringing her copyrights. The complaints covered 39 URLs, 8 of which were listed against the nyahentai.com domain and the remainder against several other allegedly-infringing platforms.
“We represent Maki Murakami, a resident of Japan and the author of the copyrighted works..,” the complaint begins.
“It has recently come to our client’s attention that certain user of your services has unlawfully published and posted certain contents on their websites […]. We demand that you immediately disable access to the Infringing Work and cease any use, reproduction, and distribution of the Original Work,” the complaint to Cloudflare adds.
Tests this week reveal that some of the works have indeed been removed, including all of the titles listed on NyaHentai. However, it appears that Murakami’s legal team intends to take things a bit further.
DMCA Subpoena Seeks Operators’ Identities
Following up on the DMCA complaint to Cloudflare, the artist’s legal team filed an application for a DMCA subpoena. It seeks to compel Cloudflare to hand over information that could help to identify the operator(s) of NyaHentai, presumably to enable further legal action. The information sought is comprehensive.
[I]ncluding but not limited to billing or administrative records that prove the following information used by each of the Infringers, along with time-stamp, from the time of user registration and at the time each of the Infringing Work was uploaded by the Infringers on their websites: name(s); last known address(es); last known telephone and/or cell phone number(s); any and all email address(es); account number(s); billing information (including, but not limited to, names, telephone number(s), and mailing and billing address(es) of each of all of the payment methods (including, but not limited to, credit cards, bank accounts, and any online payments system)); hosting provider(s); server(s); any other contact information; and any and all logs of IP address(es).
Same Information Requested Against Other Sites
In addition to nyahentai.com, the DMCA subpoena to Cloudflare also requires the service to hand over the same information for several other sites.
Erocool.net is the most popular with around 1.67 million visits per month, closely followed by ahentai.top with 1.6 million. The remaining pair (hentaidock.com and doghentai.com) have much lower levels of traffic, with around 250K to 300K visits per month each.
What will happen next is open to question. While Cloudflare can sometimes hand over useful user information, it is common for website operators to use its services after submitting false registration details. This can hinder investigations but, on occasion, useful intelligence can be recovered.
Whether this has anything to do with doghentai.com currently being down is unknown.