China sentences B9GOOD piracy operators to fines and prison for manga from Japan

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B9GOOD was one of the largest anime piracy websites for stolen Japanese manga content. It was found that a total of 45,880 items had been posted without the permission of the rights holders.

Over a period of 15 years, the site was hosted on servers in China, Canada, Japan and in other countries; changing the site name and domain to “BLUE920,” “B9DM,” and “B9GOOD”.

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Most of the content posted on B9GOOD was Japanese content displayed in Japanese. “B9GOOD” was the largest anime piracy for Japanese anime, with Japanese content displayed in Japanese, with about 27.5 visits per month from 3.7 million unique visitors.

About 95% of accesses were from Japan according to SimilarWeb data quoted by the Motion Picture Association in a comments filed by the Motion Picture Association for the 2019 Notorious Markets report, published by the Office of the US Trade Representative.

On the radar since 2016

The Japan-based Content Overseas Distribution Association (CODA) had taken various measures against “B9GOOD,” beginning in October 2016, when it filed an administrative complaint with China’s “Sword Network Action.”  The Chinese agency accepted the complaint and filed a shutdown order, but “Male A” evaded shut-down, claiming that he geo-blocked the site to make it unavailable for viewing in China.

“Male A” who was criminally arrested by the Public Security Bureau of Jiangsu Province, China, on February 14, 2023, was seen as being the mastermind.  He hired and paid “Female B” or “Female D” to upload content to the site.  Another uploader, “Male C,” was given leniency under Chinese law.

A Chinese court in Jiangsu Province sentenced three individuals to prison terms ranging from eight months to three years, plus suspended sentences for copyright infringement. They were sentenced in December 2023 and became final after an appeal period expired. A fourth individual was given leniency.

In the judgment, 1,777,000 yuan (about US$247,000) was confirmed as the advertising revenue that Male A improperly obtained. During the seizure, a residence worth RMB 4 million (or about US$556,000) was also seized, claiming that it was purchased with illegal income from the operation of the website.

Further reading

Operators of B9GOOD, one of the largest piracy sites for Japanese anime, found guilty.  Press release. March 4, 2024. Content Overseas Distribution Association (CODA)

Re: Request for public comment on the 2018 Special 301 Out of Cycle Review of Notorious Markets. Docket No. USTR-2018-0027. Document (PDF). October 1, 2018. Motion Picture Association of America

Why it matters

For the first time, criminal charges filed by the Content Overseas Distribution Association (CODA) from Japan resulted in the criminal arrest of operators and uploaders of pirated Chinese websites, by Chinese authorities; a milestone.

CODA expects that this latest detection and ruling against such a malicious site will have a significant impact in deterring similar pirate sites from operating. CODA will continue to actively take action against the growing number of online infringements worldwide, even when those infringements are based overseas, and will continue to work hard to eliminate the misuse of Japanese content.

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