YouTube channel MangaExplained has been cataloging and reviewing manga for some time. He had over 500 videos covering all different kinds of manga from a wide swathe of different artists and companies. However, some Japanese rights holders have been cracking down on manga reviewers lately, and many of MangaExplained’s content was hit hard, especially from Square Enix.
The channel has built up a moderate audience for the content, but given the format and the way the manga are presented, apparently some Japanese companies did not like that and proceeded to copyright strike the channel.
Back on June 4th, 2019 the YouTuber explained his situation, writing to One Angry Gamer…
“So last year when YouTube’s copyright system was “changed” my channel has been unfairly bombarded and targeted by copyright strikes from Japanese companies (because this is my comic book/manga review) channel. I was okay with it because–I could always explain myself to these individuals and say that–these videos are under-fair use under American law (blah blah blah) it’s a commentary video. In addition to that on the copyright strike they leave behind a real email address.
“Two weeks ago. I got a copyright strike from SQUARE ENIX (the gaming company who also publishes manga). This video was published about 2 years ago. It was maybe six to ten mins long — and I was talking about a manga (Jahy-sama won’t be discouraged) and all of a sudden. I’ve received a email that says they are suing me for copyright infringement (for 1.6 million dollars)
“I can’t even watch the video — to see if I did something wrong. If I did sure, I’m fine with the video being removed (i mean it’s 2 YEARS OLD). But from my video formatting I don’t believe I did anything wrong. — because I can’t even watch the video to confirm it.“
He eventually contacted YouTube about it after mistakenly attempting to appeal the copyright strike by Square Enix that he tried to appeal, which would have taken him through a whole legal ordeal to get it resolved.
Shortly after contacting YouTube and trying to get the strikes removed, his channel was hit with multiple strikes across multiple videos.
MangaExplained shared the strike notices, which you can view below.
Now as you can see it’s not just Square Enix striking the channel but also Mag Garden (also known as 株式会社マッグガーデン), the former Square Enix subsidiary that’s now under Production I.G.
The Japanese companies are basically trying to get all the content axed from the channels, or take the channels down, too.
In a conversation with One Angry Gamer, the YouTuber stated…
“[The copyright strikes] pretty much just goes on. I talked to a lawyer and they looked at my videos and called them “book reports” — but someone really hates me at Square Enix. I guess this the end”
“Book reports” seems like a saline example of the content. If you head to the channel now (while it’s still up) it’s basically some images from the manga accompanied by commentary, usually reviews, critiques, or theory crafting.
Including the images in the reviews/critiques is likely what did the channel in. Some other manga review channels avoid showing off too many of the pages or artwork to avoid copyright claims.
According to the channel owner, he has plans on taking down the entire channel on Saturday. This means that if you had plans on archiving the content from MangaExplained, it might be best to do it now. He does have a second channel up that hasn’t been hit with any copyright strikes, but it’s a much smaller channel at the moment.
The YouTuber’s reasoning for shutting down the main account is that he doesn’t want the e-mail address attached to the account to be banned by Google…
“[The channel is] still up but I’m taking it down on Saturday. I don’t want this email address to be suspended by YouTube.”
Typically when YouTube terminates a channel the Google e-mail address is also permanently suspended from making, interacting, or managing any sort of YouTube channel(s) from then onward. This is to prevent people from (re)making multiple channels after having their channels terminated.
But MangaExplained isn’t an isolated case where this has happened. During the conversation he talked about this happening to other channels, saying…
“I saw a video on YouTube apparently the Japanese manga companies are going all in.
“You’d think Square Enix was rolling in cash but I guess they need to squeeze every penny they can get [their] hands onto.
“I [also] can’t believe they are really following through on taking down channels and YouTube is complying.”
What he’s referring to is the Japanese companies that have filed copyright strikes against various manga-oriented YouTube channels, such as LNDA, Optimistic Neko, Anime FightClub, and Kile Russo.
Shogakukan’s lawyers even ordered YouTube to hand over personal information, financial data, and channel data as part of their DMCA claim.
There’s been a widespread increase in Japanese companies cracking down on manga channels on YouTube lately. There hasn’t been any reasonable explanations why they’ve started now, but YouTubers are definitely starting to feel the pinch, especially those like MangaExplained.
I did attempt to reach out to Square Enix about the copyright strikes but as of the publishing of this article they haven’t responded.