"Demon Slayer" movie "Demon Slayer" movie

Companies and copyright protection groups from at least ten countries are teaming up to crack down on piracy in manga and anime.

April will see the launch of the International Anti-Piracy Organization (IAPO), through which members will share information they have collected about the illegal distribution of content. The group will assist criminal investigations relating to piracy.

IAPO will be overseen by Japan’s Content Overseas Distribution Association (CODA), whose 32 member companies include major animation studios and producers such as Studio Ghibli, Toei Animation, Aniplex, Sunrise, and Kadokawa.

The organization will include the Motion Picture Association of the U.S., which comprises the Hollywood majors and Netflix. The Copyright Society of China and Korea Copyright Protection Agency will also join, as will equivalent bodies from Vietnam and other Asian nations.

Anime and manga piracy has existed since at least the mid-20th century. But the rise of the internet, coupled with the growing popularity of anime and manga around the world, has helped it flourish on a global scale.

In a statement, CODA notes that the spread of digital and internet technology including 5G, as well as the rise in demand for content in the pandemic, has worsened the problem of online piracy. Servers are often located outside Japan. Co-ordinating action against copyright infringement across borders can prove complex.

IAPO hopes to simplify the process. As well as establishing multilateral hotlines, it will also host regular seminars and symposiums, and work to raise awareness of the problem of piracy.

According to Nikkei Asia, piracy in Japan cost the manga industry alone around 800 billion yen (USD$6.95 billion) between January and October last year — more than the entire market for legal publications, estimated at 600 billion yen annually. Damages in the U.S. are estimated to surpass one trillion yen a year.

In 2020, the Japanese government revised copyright law to establish punishments for those who knowingly download pirated manga, among other media.

Image at top: box-office hit “Demon Slayer — Kimetsu no Yaiba — The Movie: Mugen Train.” The franchise has experienced a lot of piracy, in both manga and anime.