The former operator of Mangamura, a now-defunct site blamed for causing billions of dollars in losses to the Japanese manga industry, has been sentenced in Japan. Romi Hoshino, 29, was sentenced by the Fukuoka District Court to three years in prison and fines in excess of US$650,000.
According to Japan-based anti-piracy group CODA, in just two years Mangamura caused around $2.91 billion in losses but in April 2018 the show came to an abrupt end.
Just days after the government in Japan announced emergency websites blocking measures against several sites, including Mangamura, the download platform shut itself down. At the time the move appeared to be voluntary but serious developments were taking place behind the scenes.
Hoshino was later deported to Japan where he was arrested by the authorities in advance of a criminal trial. Close to two years later, Hoshino has now discovered his fate.
Three Years in Prison, Heavy Fine
On Wednesday at the Fukuoka District Court, Hoshino is reported to have appeared all in black and sporting a ‘buzz cut’. Nikkei notes that he maintained the same expression throughout as Judge Hiroshi Kamihara handed down a guilty verdict.
According to the Court, the 29-year-old breached copyright law and concealed the criminal proceeds from Mangamura by depositing them into a foreign bank account.
Judge Kamihara sentenced Hoshino to three years in prison and fined him 10 million yen (US$91,146). The Judge also levied an additional fine of 62 million yen (US$565,105), an amount equal to the advertising revenue earned from Mangamura between December 2016 and November 2017 and banked overseas.
Justifying the sentence, the Judge noted that the punishment handed down was appropriate given the scale of the offending and the implications of allowing piracy to run away unhindered.
“There is a risk of destroying the profit structure of copyrighted works from the ground up and hindering the development of culture. It is highly illegal,” he said.
Publisher Shueisha Welcomes The Sentence
After the decision was handed down, a spokesperson for publisher Shueisha welcomed the sentence and expressed hope that it would deter others.
“If a work created with heart and soul is released for free, it will damage the soil where interesting works are born. The prison sentence is appropriate. We expect it will have a deterrent effect,” the company said.
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