Sony Music Goes After Piracy Portal ‘Hikari-no-Akari’

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Hikari-no-Akari, a long-established and popular pirate site that specializes in Japanese music, is being targeted in U.S. federal court by Sony Music. The Japanese branch of the music company obtained a DMCA subpoena that requires Cloudflare to share all details it has on the site's alleged operators.

peacekeeperHikari-no-Akari (HnA) is one of those specialized pirate sites that has managed to build up a dedicated audience over the years.

The music download portal, which links to externally hosted files, has been operating for well over a decade and currently draws more than a million monthly visits.

In addition to the public-facing part of the site, HnA also has a private forum and Discord channel. These have been notoriously difficult to get into, as they only sporadically open their doors to a limited number of new members.

“Their Discord is like an inter-dimensional portal that only opens during a certain planetary alignment,” a Reddit user wrote last year, aptly describing the site’s access policy.


The site doesn’t explain why it prefers to keep its private audience limited. Some have suggested it makes it harder for rightsholders to see everything being shared behind the scenes but the publicly posted material alone is already sufficient to draw attention.

Apparently, Sony Music Japan has been keeping an eye on the unauthorized music portal. The company has many of its works shared on the site, including anime theme music, which is popular around the globe.

For example, a few weeks ago, HnA posted “Sayonara, Mata Itsuka!” from the Japanese artist Kenshi Yonezu, which is used as the theme song for the asadora series “The Tiger and Her Wings”.

Around the same time, PEACEKEEPER, a song by Japanese musician STEREO DIVE FOUNDATION, featured in the third season of the series “That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime”, was shared on the site.


Sony DMCA Notices

Sony Music Japan is a rightsholder for both these tracks, as well as many others that were posted on the site. The music company presumably tried to contact HnA directly to have these listings removed and reached out to its CDN service Cloudflare too, asking it to take action.

“We demand that you immediately disable access to the Infringing Work and cease any use, reproduction, and distribution of the Original Work. Specifically, we request that you remove or disable the Infringing Work from,, or any of your system or services,” Sony wrote to Cloudflare on June 20th.

By now, most rightsholders should know that Cloudflare doesn’t ‘disable access’ to allegedly copyright infringing content in response to takedown notices. Instead, it forwards these takedowns to the hosting company associated with the customer account.

However, these takedown notices do serve a purpose. They are a prerequisite for obtaining a DMCA subpoena, which Sony Music Japan requested at a California federal court this week.

Sony requested two DMCA subpoenas, both targeted at and The latter domain receives the bulk of its traffic from the first, which isn’t a surprise considering the ‘hnadownloads’ name.


Through the subpoena, the music company hopes to obtain additional information on the people behind these sites. That includes, names, IP-addresses, and payment info. Presumably, this will be used for follow-up enforcement actions.

“The sole purpose for which the requested subpoena is sought is to obtain the identities of the alleged infringer(s) described in the DMCA Notice and such information will only be used for the purpose of protecting Owners’ copyright rights,” Sony writes.


It’s unclear whether Cloudflare will be able to hand over any usable information and for the moment, HnA remains online.

Several of the infringing URLs that were identified by Sony have recently been taken down, including this one. However, others remain readily available. The same applies to private forum threads and Discord postings, of course.

A copy of the subpoenas requests from Sony Music Entertainment Japan can be found here (pdf) and here (pdf).


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