So, this saga took an unexpected turn.

Earlier today, a Saitama based lawyer filed suit against internet provider NTT. Yūichi Nakazawa brought about the case, arguing that NTT’s decision to block three sites that are dedicated to piracy. The lawyer is seeking an injunction against the provider, arguing that the act of blocking in and of itself is illegal. Nakazawa’s complaint alleges that NTT’s block is unlawful on three counts.

First, the suit alleges that NTT’s blocking was not specifically noted in the organization’s subscriber agreements, leading to a breach of contract.

Second, it argues that the actoin is is in violation of the Telecommunications Business Act. In particular, the complaint cites two statutes:

  • Article 3: “No communications being handled by a telecommunications carrier shall be censored.”
  • Article 4, Section 1: “The secrecy of communications being handled by a telecommunications carrier shall not be

Specifically, the case argues that, by blocking these cites, NTT is engaging in active censorship upon its users. Moreover, it suggests that NTT maintains awareness of its subscribers’ internet habits.

Finally, the claim argues that NTT’s decision is unconstitutional, in and of itself. Nakazawa’s claim alleges that the move violates Article 21 of Japan’s Constitution: “Freedom of assembly and association as well as speech, press and all other forms of expression are guaranteed. No censorship shall be maintained, nor shall the secrecy of any means of communication be violated.”

The filing comes just three days after NTT announced that they will block access to three sites dedicated to piracy. The company declined to name the specific sites that will be blocked in the press release, though business newspaper Nikkei notes that they will focus on anime and manga piracy. NTT did note that they will uphold the ban as a “short-term emergency measure” as soon as preparations are complete. The blockade will be upheld until updated legislation regarding the practice is passed through the Japanese government.

On April 17, Mangamura was taken offline. The Asahi Shimbun reported at the time that the shutdown was brought about by the administrators, and that both the main server and the external image server (which hosted scans and other images) were taken offline.

A day later, pirated anime site AniTube was rendered inaccessible. Attempts to connect to the site are met with a Cloudflare error, which notes that the host site is inaccessible due to a Bad Gateway.

Both sites were named by the Japanese government as one of three sites that should be blocked by internet providers for their heavy involvement in distributing pirated materials. MioMio was the other site named. The naming came about on April 13, when the government put out the formal request to block illegal distributors. Though the request is informal as of press time, the Diet plans to introduce a bill in 2019, which will expand on a site-blocking law aimed at child pornography distributors.

Sources: Kyodo, Hachima Kiko