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Anime Website Becomes One Of The Most Dangerous Piracy Watch List For U.S. Government

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Piracy is a debated topic among anime, manga and other audiences and the exact numbers of how much the anime industry loses yearly to piracy are hard to come by. It is indisputably hurting the pockets of beloved creators; many say that more can be done to improve accessibility and desirability for legal alternatives.

The Japan Times reports that online piracy across Japanese entertainment, considering manga, anime, and games, amounted to $15 billion in 2021. This number has been growing, considering the addition of similar media such as Korean manhwa.

One of the leading publishers, Kakao Corporation, has made large strides in trying to combat. The forcible end to Tachiyomi's development last month followed Kakao putting the piracy industry on notice in December, declaring that it had identified the world's largest manga piracy website operators.

A major anime website has made the U.S. government's Office of the United States Trade Representative watchlist in 2023 for "substantial copyright piracy” – Aniwatch.

Via Torrent Freak, the United States' Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) has released its annual "Review of Notorious Markets for Counterfeiting and Piracy (the Notorious Markets List)." The list is described as "online and physical markets that reportedly engage in or facilitate substantial trademark counterfeiting or copyright piracy” by the USTR.

USTR claims Aniwatch is a rebranded version of zoro.to, which was shut in July 2023.

Aniwatch features alongside thirty-eight other websites that are seen as being at the forefront of online piracy. The list also includes well-known more general websites like Vegamovies, ThePirateBay etc.

The USTR adds that Aniwatch's operators are suspected of operating out of Vietnam, making use of reverse proxy services to hide the location of its servers. They also suspect that in just the past sox months, Aniwatch has become one of the most popular pirate streaming sites - not just in anime, but in any medium.

Torrent Freak highlighted that it is important not just to seek website takedowns, but also to pursue the owners and operators.

Anime and manga distributors have attempted to respond to this through simulpubs, and Shueisha, for example, and has promised that international opinions will receive greater consideration in the future.

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