Several individuals in Japan have been arrested for allegedly uploading scans of the popular manga One Piece before it had gone on sale.
As reported by Kotaku, 30 year-old Yo Uehara, 23 year-old Shizuka Nagaya, and 31 year-old Ryoji Hottai all managed to gain access to popular magazine Weekly Shonen Jump, which serialises the One Piece manga in Japan, and scanned the pages in question before uploading them to their “spoiler” websites. All three men were arrested for violation of copyright under Japanese law.
It’s the first time such an arrest has taken place; Uehara and Nagaya have been running their website for just under a year and Hottai for almost three years; between the two websites (one run by Uehara and Nagaya and one run by Hottai), the spoiler pages earned an alleged total of around 380 million yen (somewhere in the region of $3.5 million).
A spokesperson for One Piece publisher Shueisha welcomed the action, saying they were “strongly angered” by individuals profiting after author Eiichiro Oda “pour[ed] his heart into these works”, adding that they hope the arrests act as a warning to other individuals who are considering pirating published materials.
It may be the first time there have been arrests for manga spoilers but in this the age of piracy, it’s certainly not the first time individuals have run foul of of the law for releasing material early. Last month, police in India arrested individuals allegedly involved in leaking episodes of Game of Thrones – a series that has the dubious honour of being the most-pirated show in television.
It seems that there will always be people willing to breach copyright law if they think it’s profitable – but it remains to be seen whether these arrests are the first sign of a larger crackdown on pirated material.