Japanese company stops American scanlators

Several scanlation groups are reporting that they have received cease and desist notices from the Japanese publisher Libre, which specializes in yaoi manga. Baka-Updates reports that the scanlation groups Attractive Fascinante, Bliss, and Liquid Passion & Biblo Eros all received C&D notices, and the latter two have taken down or removed links to content owned by Libre. It looks like Blissful Sin has received a notice and complied as well.

On the one hand, it's a little surprising that Libre is targeting these groups, as they seem to only scan manga that hasn't been licensed in the US, and the audience for yaoi is relatively small anyway. On the other hand, Libre has been pretty aggressive in asserting its rights. The company was formed following the 2006 bankruptcy of another yaoi publisher, Biblos and picked up the rights to the magazine Be x Boy and the work of several creators. The American publisher Central Park Media was publishing series by these creators, but Libre accused them publicly of violating their IP rights. At the time, Ed Chavez (now the marketing director for Vertical, Inc., but at the time simply a blogger with an encyclopedic knowledge of the Japanese manga scene) commented on how unusual it was for a Japanese publisher to call out an American licensee, in English, no less. CPM disagreed but ultimately filed for bankruptcy, making the whole thing moot.

And now we get to the heart of the matter: Libre is publishing yaoi for the Kindle, under the aegis of parent company Animate, so they are obviously protecting their market. Animate publishes four titles a month in English, but they also occasionally put up a book in Japanese as well. Although most serious scanlators take down their scanlations of books as soon as they are licensed, there may be less lag time in this case. Or maybe they are just being aggressive; Libre is a member of the anti-scanlation coalition formed earlier this year.

The general reaction seem to have been pretty mature—the readers realize that scanlations are illegal, and they are resigned to it. Unlike Onemanga.com fans, they aren't demanding that someone set up a new free manga site for them or that manga publishers just "learn to deal with it" and let the scanlators continue, although one reader did pen an embittered open letter to Libre on her LJ, in which she forcefully makes the point that she buys lots of yaoi, some of it directly from Libre—and details the order she just canceled. It's an interesting twist on the voting-with-your-dollars argument, but one that most of us can't pull off as we don't buy Japanese manga to begin with.

(First spotted via Cait Branford on Twitter.)

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