China arrests four over major anime piracy site, says lobby group

The website, called b9good, was the biggest piracy platform for anime catering to Japan's voracious audience, according to Coda. — AFP

TOKYO: A major website for pirated Japanese anime has shut down after Chinese authorities arrested four people accused of involvement, according to a Tokyo-based lobby group that hailed the move as “groundbreaking”.

The website, called b9good, was the biggest piracy platform for anime catering to Japan's voracious audience, according to the Content Overseas Distribution Association (Coda), an anti-piracy industry group.

The platform was named in a 2018 US Motion Picture Association report on “notoriously infringing” piracy sites, and Coda said it had racked up more than 300 million views over the past two years.

“It is groundbreaking that a full-fledged crackdown was conducted based on criminal proceedings in China,” Coda said in a statement Tuesday.

It was the first time Chinese law enforcement had responded to calls from Coda for the arrest of people involved in piracy, the group added.

Contacted by AFP, an official at Beijing's Cyberspace Administration – which regulates the Chinese Internet – declined to comment.

Illegal distribution is a long-running problem for Japan's internationally renowned manga and anime industries, with comic book publishers claiming massive losses in revenue as a result.

The Japanese government and the industry have ratcheted up efforts to crack down on piracy in recent years.

Last year, four major Japanese manga publishers said they would sue a US company accused of hosting servers for a piracy site.

And in 2019, a man who ran an illegal online manga comic library visited by around 100 million people each month was arrested in Manila.

The website made around 60,000 manga – Japanese graphic novels or comics – available to the public for free immediately after publication. – AFP

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