Japan: Kyoto Prefecture Police crack down on five infringing “leech” sites

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In 2020, copyright law was amended in Japan to regulate “leech sites,” which are Web sites that link to other sites to present that content to their own visitors, without hosting the content itself.

Four males between the ages of 40 and 59 (one operating two sites) were each arrested on or before May 8, 2023. They operated leech sites for a variety of content, including Western and Japanese films, theatrical animation, and TV dramas.

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A total of five such sites were subject to the crackdown, including “Eiga no Muryo Doga de Yumegokochi,” which was one of the largest video leech sites with servers located in Japan.

Heavy traffic

Of the criminally uncovered sites, “Eiga no Muryo Doga de Yumegokochi,” which attracted the largest traffic, had an average of 2 million hits per month from March 2021 to February 2023, according to a Similarweb survey. The operator of the site is believed to have been profiting from the large number of advertisements, mainly of an adult nature, that were placed on the site.

The operator of the “Eiga no Muryo Doga de Yumegokochi” website, who was arrested on May 8, had uploaded video data including “Kamen Rider Revise” (copyrighted by TOEI COMPANY, LTD. and six other companies) and “Jujutsu Kaisen 0” (copyrighted by TOHO CO., LTD. and four other companies) to an overseas server and provided links to these video data on the “Free Movie Videos” website to induce users to watch them.

Further reading, including a full table of arrests

Kyoto Prefectural Police Conduct Simultaneous Intensive Control of “Leech site.”  Press release. May 8, 2023. Content Overseas Distribution Association (CODA)

Why it matters

According to CODA, “Some leech sites explain that they are links and not illegal uploads themselves, and that they are not responsible for requests to remove content by stating that they should contact the source of the illegal uploads. However, it is often difficult for users to access illegal content without content that essentially “directs” them to illegal content, and (CODA) believes that leech sites that generate advertising revenue by collecting these links are as malicious as pirate sites.”

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