On top of dedicated websites pulling in tens of millions of visits each every month, there’s a thriving market of Android and iOS apps offering premium manga content for free but without appropriate licenses.
Many of these apps, especially those Android-based, are made available outside official app ecosystems, but some still make their way onto Google Play and Apple’s App Store, with all the convenience that entails. To have the apps removed, publishers file takedown notices with Google and Apple but as recent court documents suggest, takedown notices aren’t always successful.
Kadokawa Sent Takedown Notices, Apps Stay Up
On June 16, 2023, manga publisher Kadokawa sent two takedown notices, one to Google and another to Apple. In broad terms the notices are identical, the only differences being the recipient and links to the content to be taken down.
The notice sent to Google lists works by manga artist Kugane Maruyama and requests the removal of two apps; one titled ‘SuA Manga Đọc truyện tranh’ and another titled ‘Mangalek’.
The takedown notice sent to Apple lists three works by two manga artists – Shachi Sogano and Patora Fuyuhara – and requests the removal of three apps: ‘Manga Reader: Comic & Webtoons’, ‘Manga Reader: Top Manga Here’, and ‘Manga Reader – Comics and Novels’.
Whether these takedown requests are more complex than they first appear is unknown, but it seems that neither Google nor Apple removed the apps in question. At the time of writing they remain available both on Google Play (1,2) and Apple’s App Store (1,2,3).
Kadokawa Files DMCA Application at California Court
It’s possible that Kadokawa always intended to take further action, whether its takedown notices were effective or not. In any event, the manga publisher has now filed requests with a California court to compel both Apple and Google to hand over the identities of the apps’ developers.
The information requested from both companies is broadly the same and comprehensive. (Apple request shown below)
– Any and all information showing all names, addresses (including postal codes and addresses used for address (PIN) verification, e-mail addresses (including email addresses used for recovery or other purposes), and telephone numbers (including, but not limited to, those required for Apple account registration);
– Any and all information showing access log (including dates, times, IP addresses, and access type) of each of the Infringer’s Accounts, including access log along with timestamp for each login (namely, login history);
– Any and all information showing (a) all names, telephone numbers, and addresses (including postal codes), any payment method, including but not limited to credit card holders, bank accounts, registered with; and (b) the type of the payment method and the name of the company or financial institution associated with such payment method registered with any and all of the Infringer’s Accounts.
Publicly available information suggests that some of these apps and/or their developers may have links to full-blown pirate sites, so any information obtained here may prove useful in progressing investigations elsewhere.