A 29-year-old man was sentenced Wednesday to three years in prison for operating an illegal manga website that allowed people to read pirated copies of popular comics such as "One Piece."
The Fukuoka District Court found Romi Hoshino guilty of copyright infringement for running the website Manga-Mura, which is believed to have caused the manga industry losses of over ¥300 billion, imposing a fine of ¥10 million.
Presiding Judge Hiroshi Kambara also ordered the confiscation of some ¥62 million in criminal proceeds Hoshino had concealed in overseas bank accounts.
Prosecutors had sought 54 months in prison and a fine of ¥10 million along with confiscation of the criminal proceeds, which were earned through online adverts on the site.
Calling for a suspended sentence, Hoshino's defense team had argued during the trial that his actions did not constitute a crime because some of the manga files uploaded on Manga-Mura were already viewable on other websites.
Hoshino was detained in the Philippines after having been listed on an international wanted list and was deported to Japan in September 2019. He had entered the Philippines in May of the previous year.
According to the indictment, Hoshino conspired with three accomplices to violate the copyright law by uploading unauthorized image files of the megahit comic "One Piece" and "Kingdom" in May 2017 on Manga-Mura.
Hoshino is also alleged to have concealed the ¥62 million revenues in overseas bank accounts between December 2016 and November 2017. The Manga-Mura website was shut down in April 2018, a month before he left for the Philippines.
Hoshino's accomplices — two men and one woman — have already been convicted.