Manga and anime companies like Shueisha and Toei Animation in Japan usually take the lead in strong copyright infringement actions, and this time, it’s a Korean webtoon publisher, Kakao Entertainment, with a massive move in the path towards stopping piracy.
On Jan 13, 2024, Tachiyomi’s official site broke the news by titling their letter, “it’s joever”, saying that the developers and contributors to the open source project received legal threats from the aforementioned publisher, and it was unreasonable for them to continue risking their security over a project that did not give them any financial incentive.
“I’m sad to announce that, with unanimous support from the fellow core contributors and support staff, the core Tachiyomi project will no longer be under active development due to recent events involving Kakao Entertainment Corp’s threats to both myself and others that have been involved with the project.
While many will be understandably angry or disappointed in our lack of backbone or perceived selfishness, please understand that this project has merely served as a simple hobby to many of us with no financial incentive, and such events have proved unworthy of investing additional time and effort.”
So basically, what it means for readers is that the app will exist and your personal library will be intact. It’s just that you won’t be able to read new chapters that release from now on, and you won’t be able to add new manga to the library because the source extensions are obsolete.
The developers have repeatedly apologized to fans in their letter and hoped that fans have enjoyed their time reading manga through the app.
“And also a huge sorry to anybody who had pull requests that were left open, I was hoping to get to those at some point.
In the upcoming days:
- Our core GitHub repositories will be taken down.
- The official social media accounts will be closed.
- The official Discord server will be repurposed into a general community for those who are interested in staying.
Note that existing installations cannot be affected by us. Anything new called Tachiyomi or claiming to be its successor have no relation to the original developers. Always practice caution when downloading or installing anything from unknown sources.”
On Jan 6, Kakao Entertainment demanded the removal of these third-party websites from the Tachiyomi list of source extensions through a spreadsheet:
- NewToki / ManaToki
Since it was a non-negotiable matter, all extensions were removed from Tachiyomi.
According to TorrentFreak, Tachiyomi’s principal developer was asked to discontinue the nine-year-old project by deleting all versions of the program, including those on GitHub.
He was also ordered to delete any cartoons that had been uploaded to the app, despite the fact that the app contained no third-party content. A further demand was made for the immediate removal of all Tachiyomi forks from GitHub.
However, he argued that the extensions were third-party websites and that Tachiyomi had no authority over them.
When it looked like things were going their way, the Twitter handle of Kakao Entertainment’s anti-piracy team posted a controversial tweet, claiming that Tachiyomi and similar manhwa reading apps can inject viruses onto devices and strictly warning users to stay away from such apps.
🚨Using unauthorized manhwa apps like Tachiyomi risks viruses on your device & harms authors' earnings.
Let's respect authors' rights! P.CoK is vigilant in protecting the content of Kakao Entertainment, actively monitoring & reporting illegal apps distributing Kakao Webtoon… https://t.co/BAzEXiLOUZ
— P.CoK 🦚 (@kakaoent_pcok) January 8, 2024
But as you can read from the above community notes under the post, Tachiyomi doesn’t really claim the copyrighted content as their own but simply acts as a browser or a medium to get access to them, just like any other browser like Google Chrome or Firefox.
However, this Korean anti-piracy team is more vigilant than the others, because they legit sneaked into the discord servers of these illegal sites and called them out on their Twitter.
P.CoK is infiltrating various Discord communities involved in the illegal distribution of Manhwas to check for illegally uploaded works from Kakao Webtoon/KakaoPage, and is actively monitoring and reporting these groups in real-time‼️🦚
No need to hunt for a spy! it's P.CoK,… pic.twitter.com/AK47N1YVTK
— P.CoK 🦚 (@kakaoent_pcok) November 15, 2023
Nevertheless, in the light of such events, the developers thought it’d be better to simply do away with the problem by removing their project from GitHub completely rather than fight back.
Even though they know piracy costs these companies a lot of money, Manga and Manhwa were disappointed to hear the news because they feel officials haven’t been able to create a manga reading app that is as user-friendly and efficient as Tachiyomi, and they are compelled to lean toward piracy because some of their favorite titles are not translated into English.
That doesn’t excuse these people from stealing content from hard-working creators, as implied by Kakao Entertainment’s anti-piracy team. Recently in December 2023, they’ve managed to take down a website starting with the letter “M” after five years of investigating. According to Korean KBS reports, the site had about 15 billion page views, and the amount of damage it caused to the webtoon industry is estimated to be 3 trillion won (around $2 million) every month.
As the endless battle for piracy continues, you never know when companies like Kakao Entertainment will take down which site next.