Japanese manga culture has been around for decades. Still, the enduring popularity of page-to-screen titles like Akira and Ghost in the Shell, for example, continues to usher in a generation of people appreciative of the medium
With that immense growth comes piracy. In the face of technology, the digitization of comics has given birth to a new audience that sees piracy as the easiest—and sometimes the only way—to read their favorite titles. But this also comes at the cost of the manga artists and the industry that produce these works.
In what is no doubt a win for the Japanese publishing industry, one of its biggest manga pirates was caught in a Philippine airport by the Philippine Bureau of Investigation after Japanese law enforcement agencies launched a global manhunt in 2018.
27-year-old Romi Hoshino managed Mangamura, one of the biggest illegal manga hosting websites in the world. The site is said to be the top copyright violator in Japan, allegedly costing the publishing industry $2.93 billion, according to Mainichi News.
A hundred million visitors browsed around 60,000 manga titles in the website every month between September 2017 and February 2018, according to the Content Overseas Distribution Association, a Japanese entity working on copyright infringement.
The manga industry is still trying to navigate its space on the internet. Mangamura shut down last year after the Japanese government branded it as one of three websites that internet service providers may block in a bid to address internet piracy. Downloading pirated material was also criminalized.
Prior to his arrest, the Japanese embassy requested help from local police to detain Hoshino. The arrest was conducted in coordination with Tokyo Interpol.
“His presence in the country is a risk to public safety and security,” Bureau of Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente told AFP.
Hoshino is currently detained in an immigration facility and is expected to be deported to Japan.
This article originally appeared on VICE ASIA.