Manga publishers join forces to fight scanlation sites [Updated]

A coalition of Japanese and U.S. manga publishers is threatening legal action against 30 scanlation sites, Publishers Weekly reports.

The group is composed of the Japanese Digital Comic Association, whose 36 members includes publishing giants Kodansha, Shogakukan and Shueisha, Square Enix, the Tuttle-Mori Agency and U.S. publishers Vertical Inc., Viz Media, Tokyopop and Yen Press.

According to PW, the publishers contend that although formerly fan-driven, scanlation -- scanning, translating and posting manga, traditionally titles that are difficult to find outside of Japan -- has become a profitable enterprise for high-traffic aggregation sites that host thousands of titles illegally. Google recently ranked scanlation aggregator One Manga among the world's 1,000 most-visited websites. It draws 4.2 million unique visitors a month.

The group charges that in addition to attracting millions of visitors and reaping advertising revenue, some sites are soliciting donations and charging for memberships. In addition, iPhone apps are being developed "solely to link to and republish the content of scanlations sites."

No lawsuits have been filed, and no websites named, but it seems likely that One Manga and Manga Fox will be among those targeted. A spokesperson said in a press release that the publishers group hopes "the offending sites will take it upon themselves to immediately cease their activities. Where this is not the case, however, we will seek injunctive relief and statutory damages. We will also report offending sites to federal authorities, including the anti-piracy units of the Justice Department, local law enforcement agencies and FBI."

News of the effort comes a little more than a month after it was announced a coalition of U.S. comics publishers had worked with the FBI to shut down the piracy website HTMLComics.

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