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Digital Comics Distributor JManga to Close – Proves Once Again That DRM is a Terrible Idea
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  • March 17, 2013
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J-manga_logo_242x68[1]JManga broke some hearts this week when they announced that they were ceasing operations.

This digital manga distributor announced earlier this week that they would no longer sell manga as of 26 March and planned to shut down completely in May.

Any customers with store credit would get a refund in Amazon.com gift cards, and any purchased content will be lost when JManga turns off the lights in May (no downloads allowed).

Once again, the legitimate customer is harmed while the pirate gets away scot-free.

JManga launched with much fanfare in 2011. This company was backed by the 36 publishers of the Japanese Digital Comics Association, and it was created as a laudable response to the then rampant fan-based scanlation (piracy and English-language translation) of Japanese comics.  By offering a legitimate option these publishers hoped to provide the content that was obviously desired by fans.

Sadly, JManga wasn’t up to the task. The site suffered from troubles with getting and keeping content, pricing issues (fans balked at the early high prices), and technical problems including only releasing an Android app in late 2012 (over a year after JManga launched) and never actually releasing an iOS app.

And now JManga is shutting down and taking all existing purchased content with it.

What we have here is a yet another example of the fact that DRM does nothing but punish the paying customer. It doesn’t actually stop piracy; in this case piracy was already rampant thanks to readily available scanners and a large and enthusiastic fan base.

All that was accomplished with JManga was that the legitimate customer was punished for being honest and paying for the content they received. The pirates, on the other hand, weren’t bothered at all.

I wish more publishers could learn from this mistake, because the hostility that has been shown toward JManga customers is appalling.

Yes, hostile is the correct word. In fact I would go so far as to say that any publisher who chooses to use DRM (leaving out the ones that have it forced on them from above) is expressing contempt for their customers.

DRM is the digital equivalent of a shop owner who glares at every customer that enters the store, secure in the knowledge that everyone is a thief. Never mind that the customer has money in their pocket; every customer is a thief.

That is exactly how JManga (as well as every publisher who distributed manga on that site) behaved toward their customers. Ditto for all other publishers and distributors who insist on DRM.

With that in mind, the real shocker is that anyone buys digital content at all.

(And yet I still buy DRMed ebooks. Go figure.)

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