Four major Japanese manga publishers said Monday they will sue a US company accused of hosting servers for a piracy site, in the latest offensive against illegal copies of their graphic novels. Piracy is a long-running problem for Japan’s internationally renowned manga industry, with publishers saying they lose millions in revenue as a result. The publishing giants will file the lawsuit with the Tokyo District Court this week, a spokesman for Kodansha, one of the publishers involved, told AFP.

The four leading publishers-Kodansha, Shueisha, Shogakukan and Kadokawa-accuse web infrastructure company Cloudflare of copyright infringement for its role in hosting sites that distribute pirated copies of manga titles. They will seek a combined 400 million yen ($3.5 million) in damages, according to a source with knowledge of the suit. The site Cloudflare is accused of helping, by providing a server that can handle significant online traffic, has an estimated 300 million views a month and distributes about 4,000 manga titles, the source added.

Piracy sites, where copies of graphic novels are distributed for free, have long tormented publishers of manga epics such as “One Piece” and “Attack on Titan,” with losses estimated at millions of dollars in Japan alone. Cloudflare did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but it is not the first time it has come under fire from manga publishers. In 2019, the same four companies reached a settlement with the US firm after it agreed it would stop providing its services for a piracy site. Kodansha spokesman Tomoyuki Inui said publishers were determined to take legal action to protect the rights of artists. “All the profits made from those manga piracy sites go straight to their illegal operators, with nothing going to the bookstores, publishers and manga artists who have dedicated their lives to creating these works,” he told AFP. “We must put a stop to piracy sites in order to protect the Japanese culture of manga.” — AFP