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I mean, they host a lot of illegal content. I do not understand why they are not being taken down. Any idea?

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    Because it costs a lot to pursue violations?
    – Ron Beyer
    Commented Jun 9, 2020 at 18:42
  • I’m voting to close this question because this is about prosecution, not about the legality of something.
    – Trish
    Commented Jun 10, 2020 at 19:33

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They are copyright violations. They are periodically shut down in waves that shut down the entire genre when the industry decides that they are impacting sales negatively and mount a coordinated campaign. I know of two such crackdowns in the last 25 years or so.

I reported on the most recent major crackdown of which I am aware, when it happened in the summer of 2010. An academic journal article on the subject from 2009 entitled "Between fan culture and copyright infringement: manga scanlation" by Hye-Kyung Lee has also looked into the subject and discusses a previous crackdown. There are several other academic journal articles on the subject but my links to them have gone stale. In 2010 and the previous crackdown, publishers had previously done very little international distribution of magna in translation, so this black market arose to address the unmet demand (mostly on a non-profit volunteer basis by devoted fans). But, in 2010, publishers were just starting to greatly increase their investment in paid international distribution of manga in translation, so they needed to clear the field to satisfy their new foreign partners in the international distribution process.

The development of profitable business models for natively web based comics and manga, such as the Korean based commercial webtoons website, has reduced demand for copyright violating content in this space somewhat by providing alternative content, as has much greater industry sponsored international distribution of manga in translation through contracted and licensed affiliate companies outside of the publisher's home countries.

This doesn't happen more often because the economic gains from doing so are often marginal, it is expensive to mount an enforcement campaign, it is ineffectual to deal with one site at a time (leading to whack-a-mole situations where new sites arise as quickly as old ones are shut down), enforcement campaigns can generate ill will towards the magna publishers among fans, and the pirate sites can generate new revenue that offsets the revenue lost (e.g. boosting sales of merchandise and sales of volumes that haven't yet been translated that fans learn about from the illegal websites).

The industry mounts campaigns only when they feel that pirate sites are out of hand and seriously denting their revenues, or when an offender is particularly offensive or profitable.

Scanlation sites, in which magna are translated into other languages, particular those that translate manga into languages in which the publisher doesn't have an official translated version, receive particularly lenient treatment from publishers contemplating whether to mount an enforcement campaign, because they don't hurt revenues materially. Scanlations of works into orphan languages are protected under some countries' copyright laws, if a translation has not been done into that language after a certain (short) number of years, but not in the U.S. or E.U. or Japan or Korea or Taiwan, which have some of the biggest markets for manga.

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    Another point to consider is that a substantial fraction of the people for whom scanslations are the only way of receiving the material would prefer to purchase a proper published translated version if and when when is published. If publisher X tolerates scanslations and pulbisher Y cracks down on them, the works of publisher Y will cease to be popular. If both publishers later try to sell translated versions of their works, the elimination of demand for Y's works would do far more to hurt sales than piracy would have done.
    – supercat
    Commented Nov 20, 2022 at 22:19

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