Japan: 13DL, a malicious “Leech” site, was closed down but had a final gift

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The Content Overseas Distribution Association (CODA) confirmed the May 23 shutdown of 13DL (13dl.to), a malicious piracy site that had attracted the largest traffic of any Japanese publication site.

13DL is a “Leech” site that posted a large number of links to multiple cyberlockers. Since the closure and exposure of another leech site, “Haruka Yume no Ato” in 2017 – which was the largest Japanese site at that time – access to 13DL (13dl.net in 2017), and illegal uploads to cyberlockers are believed to have been done by the site operator himself.

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To download works from cyberlockers, users must subscribe to a paid service under a “premium membership.”  CODA believes that the operator is earning illegal income through a system through which it receives compensation from cyberlockers. While nine suspects were identified and tried in the Haruka Yume no Ato case, CODA has yet to identify the operator of 13DL.

13DL.me Web site. Screen shot taken June 6, 2023
13DL.me Web site. Screen shot taken June 6, 2023

CODA has continued to investigate 13DL as a target site for the Cross-Border Enforcement Project (CBEP), which has been underway since April 2021 with the support of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry.

How CODA ran the operation

CODA, at the request of publishers that included the Five Publishers Anti-Piracy Council (Kadokawa Corporation, Kodansha Ltd., Shueisha Inc., Shogakukan Inc, and Square Enix Co., Ltd.), and with the help of ethical hackers, preserved infringing material as evidence of illegal uploading.

CODA then requested CBEP Legal Director Hiroyuki Nakajima, and on May 3, 2023, we sent a DMCA notice removal request to Cloudflare, which was used by 13DL and cyberlockers, with the fact of infringement of Shueisha’s works.

On May 10, CODA filed a motion for disclosure of sender information with the U.S. Court of Appeals. When this disclosure order was issued on May 12, on or about May 15, 13DL stopped posting infringing material on its site with the message “13DL is closed, thank you for all you have done,” but in reality, they weren’t done.

It was later confirmed that from May 17, they had been distributing a file with download links to over 180,000 manga works uploaded to the two cyberlockers as a “final present to apologize to those who had bought premium memberships” (on May 22, access to the site itself was disabled).

This shutdown came on the heels of a May 2023 takedown of five other “Leech” sites, also reported by CODA.

Further reading

Downloadable leech site for Japanese manga closed. Article. June 2, 2023. Content Overseas Distribution Association (CODA)

Why it matters

This case remains a work in progress, at the time of this writing. According to CODA, Cloudflare is expected to disclose information on 13DL and several cyberlockers subscribers in June.

In addition, CODA, in cooperation with the rights holders, attorney Nakajima, and ethical hackers, has requested procedures from a law firm located in Scandinavia, where cyberlockers are believed to operate, in order to promptly file a sender information disclosure request regarding the distribution of the “final present” as well.

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