Manga Piracy Rose in 2021 Despite New Laws and Interventions

Manga is becoming bigger by the day, and it seems that trend isn’t about to stop. Despite some issues with over-saturation, the medium is thriving over in Japan, and markets all around the world are buying in on manga. But according to a recent update, it seems like piracy became an even bigger issue for manga in 2021.

The report comes from the organization Authorized Books of Japan. As Kotaku explains, the group keeps tabs on manga sales both legally and illegally. ABJ has a running list of piracy websites that it tracks stats for, and it turns out the list’s collective page views went way up in the last year.

According to the report, the group’s January 2020 report noted that the top-three sites being tracked brought in 12.5 million users. But by October 2021, the number shot up to 326 million. Clearly, that is a huge boost, and ABJ estimates the damage done by pirates totals to billions lost.

In fact, ABJ says the financial impact of manga piracy this past year was 4x worse than in 2020. The group estimated that $1.8 billion USD was lost in 2020, but 2021 estimates suggest $6.7 billion was forfeited from January to October.

Clearly, manga piracy is thriving these days. Despite the medium’s growing accessibility, dropped licenses and paywalls are used to justify those who would rather read manga illegally than pay for it. In recent years, Japan’s top manga publishers have formed a coalition to go after piracy websites both domestically and overseas. One of the top piracy sites was toppled in 2019 when Manga-Mura was shut down, but other sites have tried to fill the void. But as promised publishers like Shueisha are going after the next generation of piracy platforms.

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“There is no silver bullet, and all we can do is continue doing what we can to stop them,” Atsushi Ito, a member of ABJ, reminded readers not that long ago. “If you give up, the game is over right there.”

What do you think about this latest report on piracy? Why do you think the manga industry deals with this issue so much? Share your thoughts with us in the comments section below or hit me up on Twitter @MeganPetersCB.