Following the trial on Tuesday, the Morioka district court in Iwate Prefecture yesterday judged two Japanese men guilty for illegally uploading two popular Japanese manga, Wataru Watanabe's Yowamushi Pedal and Nakaba Suzuki's The Seven Deadly Sins, onto a foreign site from June to July of this year.
The court gave them a sentence of 18 months' imprisonment (suspended for three years) with a fine of 500,000 yen (about 4,450 US dollars). The judge pointed out, "They took various measures to hide its source. It was a skillful and habitual crime." Because they gained economic benefits from the illegal act, the judge decided that they were also needed to be punished with a fine. The two do not intend to appeal to the court.
According to the judgement, the suspects are a 34-year-old independent business man from Osaka and
a 29-year-old unemployed man from Tokyo. The Osaka man purchased one chapter of the two manga's
digital edition and processed the data. Then the Tokyo man uploaded the data onto the site to make it
available to the public without the permission from the copyright holders. The site offered manga series
from at least 13 different magazines, including Kodansha's Weekly Shonen Magazine and Akita Shoten's
Weekly Shonen Champion. Iwate Prefectural Police arrested the two in October, then the Morioka district
court prosecuted them on November 8. The Police has continued the investigation to find other accomplices.
As we reported countless times, posting/reposting copyrighted materials, including scanned magazine
pages (before and after the official release day), onto the internet without copyright holder's permission
is illegal in Japan. The criminal act can result in a 10-year jail sentence or a fine of 10 million yen (about
89,000 US dollars) in the worst case.
"Yowamushi Pedal" manga image on the thumbnail © Wataru Watanabe/Akita Shoten