Attack on Titan: Four Japanese Manga publishers sue Cloudflare

Allege content delivery network enables piracy


Updated Four major Manga publishers are set to sue internet-grooming firm Cloudflare, on grounds its content delivery network facilitates piracy of their wares.

The four companies – Kodansha, Shueisha, Shogakukan and Kadokawa – together dominate the market for Japanese comics and own many iconic properties.

The publishers also believe they're victims of widespread piracy.

Japanese media report the companies are therefore going to file a suit against Cloudflare, which they feel facilitates piracy by providing its services to sites that share unlicensed Manga.

Cloudflare has seen this movie before: in 2017 Japanese publishers asked it to help take down a pirate Manga site called Mangamura. Cloudflare helped, and Mangamura collapsed. Cloudflare later promised to stop mirroring Japanese sites if it was satisfied the content they host was pirated.

The four publishers and Cloudflare settled an action after that incident.

Now the publishers are back, again arguing that any form of facilitation of unlicensed distribution harms the entire manga community – from artists and writers to distributors and bookstores.

The four plan to pursue action in the Japanese Supreme Court.

Japanese media report that Cloudflare has denied that its services assist pirates. The Register has asked Cloudflare for further comment. ®

UPDATE, 4:45 AM UTC, February 2nd. Cloudflare has sent the following statement:

By making security and performance services readily available to tens of millions of websites around the world, Cloudflare is helping make the Internet more secure, efficient, and reliable. Cloudflare’s CDN and pass-through security services do not contribute to infringement, which a United States federal court recently recognized.

Cloudflare nonetheless takes these issues very seriously and has gone above and beyond its obligations to assist rightsholders in Japan. In addition to adopting an abuse process that connects rightsholders with the hosting providers and website operators actually able to remove infringing content from the Internet, Cloudflare also agreed to a framework with certain publishers that allows them to seek expedited resolution of their complaints in court. We therefore take a number of steps to facilitate actions against the parties that are actually responsible for this issue.

We have not seen the referenced lawsuit, however, Cloudflare is not the solution to this ongoing problem. We will continue to actively engage in discussions with rightsholders and the Japanese government: we have incorporated their input into our processes and have provided support assessing how other governments are managing these issues.

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