Sony Music Japan and Bandai Namco target anime music piracy site Hikari-no-Akari in US federal court
Japanese singer Anonymouz

Sony Music Entertainment Japan and Bandai Namco Music Live, a producer of anime and record label owner, are trying to uncover the identities of the people behind anime music piracy site Hikari-no-Akari.

The two companies filed requests for subpoenas with a US federal court on June 29, asking the court clerk to order network services company Cloudflare to “identify certain alleged infringers of copyrights” that are owned or represented by Sony and Bandai Namco.

The requests can be read here and here.

Attached to the requests were proposed subpoenas that identify two domain names, and Both domains are associated with Hikari-no-Akari, a piracy site that specializes in Japanese music, including music made popular by anime TV shows.

According to piracy news site Torrentfreak, which first reported on Sony and Bandai Namco’s legal actions against Hikari-no-Akari, the piracy site has been operating for more than a decade and has been receiving more than a million visits per month.

The subpoena requests, made in the US District Court for the Northern District of California, San Francisco division, include letters sent by Sony and Bandai Namco to Cloudflare on June 20, demanding that Cloudflare “immediately disable access” to certain content at the two website addresses.

Those letters can be read in full here and here.

It’s unclear whether Cloudflare responded to the letters. However, as of Thursday (July 4), both the and domains were down for users across the internet.

According to Torrentfreak, Cloudflare doesn’t disable access to web content for which it provides services. Rather, the company forwards the requests to the web hosting companies that host the URLs in question.

The letters listed specific tracks that were allegedly made available for piracy on Hikari-no-Akari.

Sony Music’s list includes Half Is Enough by Japanese singer Anonymouz, as well as Preview Of Me by Tatsuya Kitani, a song popularized in the anime series Go! Go! Loser Ranger!, and Sayonara, Mata Itsuka! by Kenshi Yenozu, which was used as the theme song to the Japanese drama The Tiger and Her Wings.

Bandai Namco’s list features R-O-N’s PEACEKEEPER, featured in the anime That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime; Junxix’s Believe, featured in the same anime series; and Blue Days by Shota Horie and Miho Karasawa, featured in the anime As a Reincarnated Aristocrat, I’ll Use My Appraisal Skill to Rise in the World.

The requests for subpoenas are made under the US’s Digital Millennium Copyright Act. The law allows rights holders to file a request with the clerk of any US district court to issue a subpoena to a service provider, requiring them to hand over identifying information about copyright infringers.

Sony and Bandai Namco’s efforts suggest the music industry may be ramping up its anti-piracy efforts amid a recent surge in digital music piracy.

According to data company Muso, there was a 13% YoY increase in visits to music piracy sites in 2023, with more than 17 billion visits during the year, Wired reported earlier this year.

After years of declines, attributed to the rise in popularity of legal music streaming services like Spotify, Apple Music and YouTube Music, Muso’s data shows music piracy began to rise again starting in 2021.

In recent years, many music rights holders have focused their efforts on holding internet service providers to account for piracy taking place on their networks.

In the US, they have filed lawsuits against such ISPs as Charter Communications, Cox Communications, and Altice USA.

That’s largely because of the rise in popularity of the torrent file-sharing protocol, which enables decentralized sharing of files. Torrent files can be accessed through numerous piracy-supporting sites, making it impossible to stop illicit file-sharing by targeting any particular site.

However, Hikari-no-Akari provides direct access to web addresses where specific files can be found, making it practical to target the site directly.

According to Torrentfreak, the piracy site also operates a private forum and a Discord channel that is notoriously difficult to join.Music Business Worldwide

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