Chinese authorities have taken down a major website based in the country hosting pirated Japanese anime and took action against four individuals suspected of being involved in its management, a Tokyo-based anti-piracy group said Tuesday.
The Content Overseas Distribution Association, which seeks to tackle overseas copyright infringement of Japanese media content, said it is the first time the authorities in China have come down on a pirate website in response to the group's request. The association had filed a criminal complaint over the site.
According to CODA, the website in question is b9good, which it says began operations in 2008 under a different name. The association also says the website, which went offline Monday, was one of the largest online sources of pirated anime, and that its Japanese-language interface meant that around 95 percent of users were accessing it from Japan.
The authorities on Feb. 14 detained a 33-year-old man living in the southwestern Chinese city of Chongqing, releasing him on bail on March 19 following an investigation, said the anti-piracy group, which includes major anime firms among its members.
The authorities also took action against three other people in their 30s residing in China on suspicion of their involvement in the website.
Between March 2021 and February this year, b9good was accessed more than 300 million times, and the suspect living in Chongqing appears to have netted between 120 and 140 million yen ($920,000 to $1.07 million) in profits, CODA said.
Major Japanese entertainment firms, including TV Tokyo Corp., Toei Animation Co., and Toho Co., as well as public broadcaster NHK were among the companies that asked CODA to take legal action against the site.
Film production company and distributor Toho said that it will "continue to take a firm response to malicious acts of infringement."
While CODA was taking preventative measures, including providing information to Chinese authorities, the association had also been sending repeated requests to the site that it delete its content.
CODA Representative Director Takero Goto said it was "hugely significant that a site of b9good's size aimed at the Japanese market has finally been exposed." He said the result will also "have an effect on improving international efforts to stop piracy."
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