While there are some millionaires out there in the manga industry, some barely even make ends meet. In reality, while the successful mangaka earn millions of dollars in revenue thanks to royalties, majority of mangaka don’t really earn a lot. Mangaka mainly earn through sales of their compiled tankoubon volumes, and pirate websites which upload manga illegally greatly affects their earnings.
NHK recently posted a multi-part article regarding manga piracy websites. This includes a statement from legendary mangaka and Ashita no Joe creator, Tetsuya Chiba. In the article, Chiba stated:
I’m very glad manga is read in various forms. I’m thankful, but if [manga] is read on pirate sites, it won’t become compiled volumes, and magazines won’t sell. If that happens, doing various research and collecting materials will become impossible. Even if they have good ideas, good characters, and produce interesting stories, it’s actually happening that manga creators can’t continue [creating].
He also added that young mangaka are “steadily dying” due to the piracy. He then urged that people stop reading manga on illegal websites.
Meanwhile, the Japan Cartoonists Association (JCA) also posted a statement regarding pirate sites for manga.
The JCA’s statement on manga piracy discussed the expansion of the digital market. The group said that its members are pleased that people are enjoying their works and described creators and readers as forming a circle. However, the statement continued, “Unfortunately, recently cases of we creators being driven outside that circle are increasing. Instead, the reality is that pirate sites that do not participate at all in production efforts are devouring profits.” The JCA believes that if people continue to use pirate sites, “various aspects of Japanese culture will lose strength” and could ultimately be destroyed.
NHK also added in their article the findings of the latest study from the Video Research Interactive. They found that “the number of people using pirate sites has recently had a sharp increase”.
Video Research Interactive stated that that number began to increase in October, and by December of last year, about 230,000 people were using pirate sites. Among users, about 42% were in their teens, about 21% were in their 40s, and about 19% were in their 50s.
The article also stated that pirate sites sometimes contain programming that may harm users’ devices. It also noted that “While reproducing and distributing written materials without permission is illegal in Japan, only reading pirated manga is generally not seen as unlawful.”
Physical manga sales fell last year by about 12%. However, many are attributing it to not just piracy, but also the rise of legal digital distributions of manga.
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