Fight copyright infringement of ‘Makaizo’ characters, manga and more | Pro Club Bd

Japanese anime and manga are very popular around the world and have grown into a big industry. At the same time, fakes and plagiarism are also widespread. Losses caused by counterfeits alone amount to more than JPY 1 trillion (US$ 7.5 billion).

Intellectual property (IP) rights are violated both in Japan and abroad. As law enforcement plays an endless game of cat-and-mouse, production studios scramble to take countermeasures.

A Lineup of Evangeleon ‘Makaizo’

Some of these losses are from Makaizo, which literally means “devil modification”. It’s a technique of swapping the body of one popular anime character for another.

Dozens of characters from the popular anime neon genesis evangelion are lined up on a desk. Most are figurines of Asuka Langley Soryu, one of the characters, and all heavily emphasize sexual details and poses, in contrast to the brand’s official figures.

A 54-year-old man from Tsuyama City, Okayama Prefecture modified these numbers Makaizostyle and sold them on the Yahoo! auctions. Kyoto Prefectural Police arrested him in May for violating copyright law for violating Evangeleon’s copyright and selling the figures for profit.

The man bought fake figurines of Asuka and other characters online for a few thousand yen. He then traded their heads and bodies and sold them for about 10,000 JPY (US$75). Its sales from June 2020 to October 2021 were 1.8 million JPY (13.5 thousand USD).

Police say: “The base figures are fake, so they’re not very well made. But you can tell they’re Asuka’s at first glance.”

Police crack down

There seems to be no end to copyright infringement targeting domestic creative works like anime and manga. Aside from the extreme figure modification known as Makaizo, there are also pirate sites that illegally upload manga to the internet, as well as videos dubbed “fast movies”. These compress movies into short clips.

According to the Tokyo-based General Incorporated Association ABJ, the damage caused by illegally uploading manga to pirate sites has risen to 1.19 trillion JPY (about US$8.9 billion).

Confiscated characters from the popular anime “Neon Genesis Evangelion”. May 2022, Ukyo-Ku, Kyoto (Photo by Rintaro Kinoshita)

In this situation, law enforcement cracks down on copyright infringement.

In 2018, police from nine different prefectures cooperated in arresting Chinese men belonging to Hanhuazu, a group that translates foreign works into Chinese and uploads them online. And in 2019, the man who runs Mangamura, Japan’s largest pirate site, was arrested.

However, copyright infringements are often committed abroad. A representative of the Kyoto Prefectural Police said, “There is not much we can do when a website is operated from abroad,” pointing to the difficulty of cracking down on the practice.


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Content producers are fighting back

Content producers who see their intellectual property copyrights infringed do not stand by and do nothing.

The Tokyo-based Content Overseas Distribution Association (CODA) began operating the CODA Automated Contents Monitoring Center in 2009, which sends out requests to remove pirate sites and freeze their operators’ bank accounts.

The Japanese publisher Shogakukan (Tokyo), which publishes popular manga magazines such as sunny sundaybegan creating and publishing official translations online in late 2021 in collaboration with fans overseas.

The move, which is an attempt to root out piracy by providing official versions before pirates can create their own, is based on reverse thinking.

“Private individuals have also made it their task to publish copyrighted images and works online. And there are many cases where they infringe a copyright without knowing it.

“This type of damage has increased since the internet and social media became widespread,” says Professor Kaoru Kobashi of Kindai University, an IP rights protection expert.

He notes that in the case of piracy, “the financial damage it inflicts on production companies and publishers is massive.” He explains that even if they sue the operators of the sites, they cannot get adequate compensation for their losses, making the violation worse.

Noting that copyright infringement by pirate sites is due to the existence of thousands of users, Professor Kobashi explains: “There is a need to educate individuals so that they know and understand what copyright is.”


(Read the article in Japanese with this link.)

Author: Fumiya Suzuki

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