Multiple prefectures’ police forces coordinate for arrest of pair on piracy charges.

On Monday, a pair of foreign nationals were referred to prosecutors in the Japanese justice system on charges stemming from alleged illegal uploading of manga images.

Investigators say that in March of 2023, 36-year-old Moussa Samir, who runs an anime merchandise online shopping site registered in Tokyo, uploaded images of manga from a then-not-yet-released issue of manga anthology Weekly Shonen Jump. The images’ text was translated from Japanese into multiple other languages, had color added, and were posted to multiple websites, including social media platforms, investigators claim.

Last month, Samir and one other foreign national who’s also being accused of the crime were arrested in Kumamoto Prefecture, on the other side of the country from Tokyo, in a joint operation by the Kumamoto and Niigata Prefectural Police. The pair are denying uploading the images.

Following the public announcement of the arrest, Weekly Shonen Jump publisher Shueisha issued a statement, saying:

Illegally uploading ‘advance spoilers’ of manga magazine content before the official release date, and the subsequent diffusion through social media, robs the enjoyment from readers who were waiting eagerly for the on-sale date. Such actions also deeply sadden manga creators, and our company view this issue as a serious problem.

We see the arrest of these suspects as a large step towards resolving these problems, and we hope that uncovering the sources of advance spoilers will help to prevent such damage in the future.

Our company will continue to proactively take all available measures to protect the series which creators put their hearts and souls into, as well as the artists’ rights and the ability of readers to enjoy manga through legitimate means.

Despite the multiple mentions of the word “spoilers” within Shueisha’s statement, it’s worth pointing out that the key issue here seems to be that the suspects allegedly obtained and uploaded the manga images before the related issue of Weekly Shonen Jump was on sale. That would imply a breach or misuse of the distribution channel, making this a different situation than a case of an individual fan posting a snapshot of a legitimately purchased copy of the magazine, and the potentially larger background to the incident is likely a contributing factor to Shueisha’s less-than-lenient response.

Source: NHK (1, 2), Model Press via Yahoo! Japan News via Jin
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