Robot 6

Bootleg manga site goes back to its old ways

A screenshot of Manga Fox, showing a couple of familiar names

Remember when the manga scan site Manga Fox announced they would stop posting scans of licensed manga?

Well, that didn’t last long. Yup, those are links to the latest chapters of Naruto, One Piece, and Bleach, all licensed by Viz. There is one Yen Press manga on the site, Darren Shan (released in the U.S. as Cirque du Freak), but the more popular series Black Butler (Kuroshitsuji) and Pandora Hearts are still missing. I spotted some Tokyopop series as well: Maid Sama!, Deadman Wonderland, and Gakuen Alice are all up there and have been updated within the last month, and a number of other high-profile series, including Hetalia, Neko Ramen, and Hanako and the Terror of Allegory, are still posted but have not been updated recently.

Del Rey was not part of the publisher group that asked scan sites to remove their titles, and Manga Fox never took their series down. Consequently, the site is well stocked with manga that have been licensed in the U.S.

What’s more, they seem to be a little tired of vigilantes:

If you make it your goal to shut down Mangafox in anyway, via contact various companies, scanlators, members, organize a group, etc. you will be seen as obstructing the function of Mangafox and we will reserve the right to permanently ban you. This includes creating groups on and off MF, posting that your goals is to shut down Mangafox via on or offline sites, and sending and or hassling scanlators to have their content removed.

This rule doesn’t apply to publishers, creators, or scanlators, but only a member of their staff can contact the site to request that material be taken down.

Meanwhile, rival site continues to play the straight and narrow, with links to scanlations but no scanned manga hosted on the site itself. And anyone who wants to read manga for free can find plenty to read if they are willing to spend five minutes using Google.



Just to clarify, people who take stuff for free online… they NEED it to live or something right? I’m seeing a lot of excuses lately for folks who just seem to be thieves to me. And it’s not that I don’t get that some people might not be able to afford what they want, because as a kid I was in the same boat. But as a kid that meant that I didn’t GET it. Not that it was then excusable for me to take it for free.

Right or wrong, I don’t think most of the users of Manga Fox think of things that way. It’s more of a social-media thing for them: They read the latest chapter of Naruto and then they all go to the forums and discuss it. The manga give them something to talk about, a focus for their little society. Remember, most of the users are teenagers and at least at the beginning of all this, when the manga were first taken down, many were only dimly aware of how publishing works, with rules and copyrights and ownership and all. They were strictly consumers. Now a lot of them get it, but they still don’t care.

The people who run Manga Fox, however, are grownups—entrepreneurs, in fact. They present themselves as a real company on their website:

… even though internet rumor has it that their “employees” are mostly unpaid, and they get all their comics for free.

Been a while since I took H.S. civics and government, but ignorance of the law is still no excuse, right?

Brigid Alverson

October 23, 2010 at 3:54 pm

Yeah, but juveniles generally get a pass.

What is so complicated that people can’t understand that they’re downloading things for free that legally cost money? Are you saying there are kids that don’t know it costs 10 bucks to go see a movie they’re downloading for free? At what age do they think these comics magically appear out of thin air?

We’re giving people way too much credit here for completely lacking ethics just b/c technology lets them do so. The issue is very simple from what I can see.

I am now wondering if VIZ’s impending big “game changing” announcement is actually them suing MangaFox. I imagine it’s somethignelse [like say, a ShojoBeat web anthology], but I’m guessing they’ll get around to that eventually.

Brigid Alverson

October 24, 2010 at 3:54 am

Well, to be fair, some of these sites are so slick they look professional. So if you can read manga for free on one of Viz’s sites, it’s not much of a leap to read it for free on Manga Fox. I deal with teens and tweens a lot. They don’t always have a good understanding of how the real world works, mainly because they haven’t given it any thought. They just like the manga. When my kids discovered one of these sites, at the ages of about 11 and 12, they just thought it was something cool, as did the friend who recommended it. They used ad-supported gaming sites like Neopets for free, so this seemed to be the same thing.

Of course, if you’re torrenting a movie, that’s another matter. There’s a new level of deliberateness there. But kids are naive. Read the comments to those posts, and you will see a lot of kids seem to think that there is some sort of manga czar who was supplying this manga to the sites and has now stopped.

Paploo, you may be right, but they sound awfully jolly about it, so I’m guessing it’s going to be some sort of new product.

“ignorance of the law is still no excuse, right?”

For the teens that is true but, being mislead into believing the company has the rights to distribute the works isn’t illegal. Mangafox claims in its tos that all works uploaded to its website are done by legitimate copyright holders. Your average teen isn’t all that industry aware and it is reasonable to suggest they may be mislead by online sites that are legitimate distributors like viz,gomanga,etc and those who are not. Both legitimate and illegitimate companies claim they have the rights.

Do consumers have a duty to perform substantive investigations into the legitimacy of an online manga site before reading works on it? If a new manga site launched claiming it has got digital rights from japanese authors would you be obliged to write to those authors and wait several weeks before you as a consumer view works on that website?

“What is so complicated that people can’t understand that they’re downloading things for free that legally cost money? Are you saying there are kids that don’t know it costs 10 bucks to go see a movie they’re downloading for free? At what age do they think these comics magically appear out of thin air?”

You can read manga for free legally online right now, seven seas, viz website, some on tokyopop and so on like brigid says.

Many teens don’t read industry news websites and may be entirely unaware that mangafox has been the subject of controversy. Hell the mere fact that mangafox operates openly a mere click away from a google search is likely to create the impression among a teen that there isn’t anything wrong with it right? How could such an open and easily accessible website being doing anything wrong without being shut down? At least I don’t feel such a line of reasoning is entirely unreasonable for a teen to conclude.

Oo sorry for the double post..

Agreed that taking stuff online for free is wrong.

But I think trying to stop it is useless, and short sighted. If I were a creator, or a company, I’d try to USE these sites as a promotional tool, like Lieber did with “Underground”. If you believe in the product, if you think it’s quality, I think people will buy it even after getting it for free.

That doesn’t excuse people who ‘steal’ the thing, but at this point it’s going to be inevitable, and instead of trying to plug holes in a sinking ship, it might be better to try learn to break out some wet suits and oxygen tanks, or convert the damn thing to a submarine. Underground bands have been doing this for while now with music, and it seems to work for a number of them.

Just stupid business practices.

The law is what is wrong here. Technology is moving along and now capital and capitalism, rather than increasing production, is retarding production. Much wonderful art and entertainment can now be distributed and reproduced at next to no current costs. Rather than macadamize production and human enjoyment, the capital dominated law now seeks to stop the reproduction of items people want.

The organization and support for production is what needs to change. The crime is a system that would deny entertainment to people unless it can extort labor from them in the form of money. This is the inefficiency of capitalism at work. There are alternative models for a free democratic economy that could sustain the unfettered mass production of art and entertainment. They would not allow for the accumulation of profits over production.

Brigid– the points about teens not being able to discern the difference is true. Many are unaware of it, and once aware of it, some do choose to reevaluate their use of these sites. Some are also often pleasantly surprised to know a fave title is available in print, at the library or on dvd. The people running and profitting from these sites aren’t just abusing the creators and publishers of these manga titles, they’re also abusing the naiveness and trust of these kids.

Although, I know there are some older teens and many older people using these sites who know that they are illegal and don’t really care or, in some cases, continue using them purposely for spite- which is where you get the crazy anti-creator, anti-corporate blather some people spew. The majority of MangaFox’s users aren’t aware of the harm of what they’re doing or don’t appreciate it if they are aware, but it’s that vocal minority of those doing it purposely who paint this sector of fandom in such a poor colour.
I hope that sort of thing becomes less common as more legit services pop up, so here’s hoping VIZ offers them up some more competition.

Deniz- I think the smarter thing would do would be to offer the material on their own site [like they do with Rinne on ] and reap the profits/promotional value on their own, with far more control of the content, and avoid giving sites like MangaFox any profit or ego boosts.

They’re better off building their own existing distribution systems [frankly, I like VIZ’s flash based manga reading system], or using legal ones like Comixology, or Apple’s Itunes system, and are perfectly capable of offering their own materials on their own sites. Why congratulate the people who’ve been stealing from you and profitting from it? Lieber did turn things around to his advantage, but did so by directing people back to his site, humanizing himself, and telling them to buy his books. It’d be like if VIZ employees went on MangaFox’s forums, told people MangaFox was stealing from them and then directed them back to their digital sites like Sunday and SigIkki, and instructions on how to get their books from their webstore, RightStuf or a local comic book shop or bookstore. Which it looks like might be against MangaFox’s current rules- it’s not in their interests to drive business to manga publishers, they want to keep people at MangaFox, reading their scans, and making them money. Unlike message boards like that where piracy is a small corner in their notforprofit services, MangaFox is clearly a business out to make as much money as it can, purely on piracy.


Wanting something does not give you a right to it. Certainly, “art and entertainment can now be distributed and reproduced at next to no current costs,” but you’re missing out an important part: the creation of that art and the creator’s effort. Most of the time, it’s hard enough to make a sustainable living in comics/manga/other art, but even for the very successful, the fact that they’ve hugely profited from their work does not make them any less deserving of profiting from it. Just because JK Rowling has made a mint from Harry Potter doesn’t mean she shouldn’t be allowed to make another billion or so from it in years to come–she’s earned it. And “earn” is key, here–there is a person or persons creating this material. Sure, the publishing companies also make money, which you might see as unjust (it’s not), but even here, somebody had the eye to publish good material, somebody properly marketed it, etc. And there are numerous books that don’t sell, meaning that the revenue from successful titles is absolutely necessary to long-term survival.

Look, I’m no market-obsessed capitalist, and I recognize that good can come from unauthorized distribution of content. I would also love to live in a world in which an artist or other creative could devote all of his or her time to producing art, rather than having to work a nine-to-five in addition, as most do. But to say it’s a crime to “deny entertainment to people” strikes me as extraordinarily immature. Again, wanting something does not give you a right to it. Nobody’s preventing you from reading Naruto—just pay the creators, translators, production artists, publishers, etc. for their efforts.

I think a better argument would be that denying entertainment to people (given that the value of that entertainment to those people is less than the cost it is sold at) is just a failure of the market. Even the creators of those works would (in theory) be willing to sell their works at 50-99% discounts to people who value the work less if the creators had some meaningful way of identifying those individuals and giving them alone the discount.

It’s wrong but I think this format could have a positive effect in the long run, honestly many years ago I was reading manga online and I got to see some great series that I’ve never heard about, wasn’t being published here, and that once it came to America I started picking up. Like the internet has helped independent artists I think this could help get series that might never have made it to stateside get picked up and published.

And the trolls roll in. AnimeNewsNetwork has chimed in on things too.

Spiros— I’m only for it if the artists are involved, like Rumiko Takahashi with Rin-ne’s online serialization, which is awesome and needs peoples support (so read those chapters AND buy those books!). Otherwise, it’s just some idiots taking advantage of artsits and fans who don’t know any better. Hope they get what’s coming to them.

uh the thing is they wont. There’ll just be another site to take it’s place. Honestly this aggressive behavior is only gonna alienate the fans and have them drop manga altogether, which is an already losing a lot of business. And I don’t think many people know that a majority of the artists make money of non manga related merchandise. The publisher’s are the ones making the money and unless you’re a huge name you ain’t making shit so all this support the artist talk is a moot point. Its like people saying buy the album to support the musician, well the musician only makes a couple of cents per album so that line of logic is flawed in the sense that you really aren’t supporting the artist, but the label/corporation. I’m not saying this method is right but don’t have it become a thing where the artists are in danger, it’s the companies that are in danger.

I’m sorry but I find the whole “teens don’t know it’s illegal because teens don’t read/follow/understand the internet” defense more than a little eye roll-inducing.

Kalorama— I know, I sort of feel the same way, but Brigid is right- there are *some* teens who really don’t know that the site’s illegal, either because they think it’s licensed, or because they’re not at a level of maturity to understand the consequences of their actions. There’s lots of sites that target these same kids and offer subscriptions for the content [I think MangaFox’s anime site is one of these], leading their parents to sign up their credit accounts and get ripped off without ever knowing they’re funding a criminal organization.

That’s why it’s important we discuss these issues, so people can understand the negative and illegal aspects of things like mangafox, and so that these kids can get educated- while there were lot of kids who didn’t learn anything from OneManga’s closure, there’s lots who had no idea it was illegal, and tried to enjoy fandom more honestly. Brigid take’s a good approach with these things, with a lot more patience then most fans can muster.

Though that said, if you’re a college student and using this site, you’re more than old enough to know better, so I hope more fans grow up and realize why MangaFox has to be stopped.

Spiros— and who pays the artists the royalties and page rates that keep them going? Not the scanlators, that’s for sure. It’s the manga companies. Even licensed manga gives manga creators a standard 20% cut of the cover price according to Ed Chavez of Vertical Inc with even higher rates for licensed digital editions like say, VIZ’s publication of Rin-ne or Tokyopop’s digital releases of Gravitation and Hetalia.
Plus, comics are the creation of a team- the artists, writers, editors, graphic/book designers, copy editors, and all the other folks who these companies keep employed. VIZ is a small business, with a little over 100 employees at the moment. It’s not like we’re talking about Apple or Microsoft. Even with a larger comics publisher, even book sale counts.

Every book sale counts that is :)

So yeah, hope MangaFox continues getting bad publicity. They’ve brought it on themselves.

Spiros: ” uh the thing is they wont. There’ll just be another site to take it’s place. Honestly this aggressive behavior is only gonna alienate the fans and have them drop manga altogether, which is an already losing a lot of business. ”

Suppose that it alienates 90% of the fans of the bootleg manga viewer sites, and results in 10% viewing legit manga online, or finding manga in their library (increasing manga circulation and so increasing library sales), or even buying the occasional manga. Heck, suppose its a loss of 95% of nothing and a gain of 5%.

That is a loss of $0, and a gain of something. If you are losing a lot of business, the chance to gain some new business while losing a substantial amount of non-business.

Let’s properly call this activity for what it is: copyright infringement. “Stealing” is not technically correct because the “owner” is not deprived of all use of the item. For example, an infringer can’t license a manga for animation and make money from it. Copyright infringement does not carry the same moral weight as stealing. Moses didn’t come down the mountain with an 11th Commandment, “Thou shalt not infringe.” Man has been copying ideas for as long as we have been around, otherwise Homer would have been lost forever to us. Ultimately that is why so many people download because they do not feel it is morally wrong.

Teenagers know that reading manga online from sites like mangafox is illegal, just like they know dowloading music and movies is illegal. That doesn’t mean they care.

To teenagers, the law isn’t that much greater an authority than their parents, and as a general rule, teenagers tend to not be too obediant towards their parents. They also tend to think less about the implications of their actions, meaning that they’re read manga online, know it’s illegal, but not think about the people they’re ripping off. And even if they do, that doesn’t mean they care about that either.

Obviously, there are many exceptions to this, but I don’t think ignorance of the law is why so many of them do it. If anything it’s to be a bit rebellious, to call out to the manga publishers to release more english language manga. In fact, if the manga companies did release more english language manga at reasonable prices, I bet that the popularity of online manga sites would drop massively.

Deniz if you may not noticed but the world is in a recession created by capitalists and the certain problems we our is facing .

People in Europe dont have even access to mangas, comics, and in greece and elsewhere they dont even know what manga is.

Buying mangas in eupore you have to travel to the capital or near the town to buy mangas, comics, each month usually thats a wasted trip for most parents in eupore.

People in eupore dont even have access to credit cards so they can buy whatever they want, yes they have money but the people in eupore

Shunting down onemanga,mangafox and those other free viewing sites isn’t going improve the manga publishers money its going backfire them.

‘Agreed that taking stuff online for free is wrong.”
By your comments Deniz sounds like your rich and you feel as we the people dont have a right to view things on Internet for free.

I have a question for you Deniz what happens if youtube gets closed down under the claims of copyright infringement?

I think you people need have open mind on these such issues.

Honestly, this is being blown completely out of proportion. Yes, it is illegal to go to hosting sites, but the alternative? Pay an exorbitant price for a book that is almost 3-4 months behind what is current? And if you wanted to read the next chapter you’d have to wait for months on end in the U.S. You can attack me all you want, but it is laughable, squabbling over this, the whole point is that the MIDDLEMAN is getting shafted. If you put it like that it changes things a bit. The artist is contracted to a publisher, they get payed for their work plus royalties from merch sold with their property. The whole B.S. Is that Viz is getting pissy that their profits aren’t maximized. You can blame teens and call us stupid all that you want. It doesn’t change the fact that manga is overpriced and slow to released in paperback stateside. You can shake fists all that you want, here’s a secret: No one cares. Frankly it means that companies are making $ or £ 119,000,980 instead of 120,000,000 the amount that it takes away from the market is insignificant, they want an example. The people who read the bootleg manga are people who wouldn’t read it otherwise due to the ridiculous price. I face the choice; do I pay $30 fill up my car or buy manga? The choice is simple: fill up the car dumbass, that manga isn’t worth it.

With the exception of doujinshi and some higher quality niche products, I rarely see tankobon more than ¥400-900 in Japanese stores. Manga is twice as expensive in the West because the distribution is inefficient.

What baffles me is why nobody is pushing for Japanese publishers to take on translation services and distribute in languages other than Japanese. The problem is that companies like Viz exist at all in 2015. Very little of what’s being made profit-wise is ever seen by the author or the horribly underpaid staff that pump out these mass market manga at below poverty wages. All of that is just profit for third party translation services.

On top of that, no amount of complaining will change the fact that manga publishers in the West are ridiculously slow, release volumes out of order, months and sometimes years late and still sometimes produce mistranslated works. All while volunteer translators crank out excellent translations, weekly, and in their spare time.

This isn’t a failure on the part of consumers, but a failure of the market to catch up with the times and remain relevant by adapting to changing patterns of consumption.

Don’t get me wrong, I was there for the manga boom in the late 90s and early 00s. I’ve spent thousands of dollars over the years on manga, video tapes, laserdiscs, dvds, figures, posters, etc. The problem is that as I’ve gotten older I’ve become increasingly conscious of the costs of my hobby.

Sites like Crunchyroll get this on the anime side. They can knock out quality subs in 1080p and mostly keep parity with Japanese releases, all at Netflix prices. It’s an amazing value for the money spent. With manga I would rather buy direct from a Japanese distributor than keep enabling an inferior and overpriced product that doesn’t benefit the original owners in any meaningful way.

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