In the last decade, as the prominence of Japanese popular culture has increased, it is not surprising in the slightest that certain legal issues surrounding this area have arisen as well. The primary one among them is pervasive illegal copying and unauthorized distribution of manga and anime, both in Japan and in the U.S. This has led to several examinations of Japanese and American copyright law, and to discussions of fair use and moral rights specifically with regard to anime and manga appearing in law reviews with increasing frequency. Other related topics that have been addressed by legal scholars include a case where charges were brought against a comic-shop owner for selling an issue of a pornographic manga to an adult customer, the legal status of anime music videos, and the controversy surrounding a Japanese lawsuit against a book-length critique of a right-wing manga.
This list was assembled primarily via Westlaw, Lexis and HeinOnline searches, using keywords 'manga', 'Japanese comics', 'anime' and 'Japanese animation'. The results will be of particular interest to scholars working in this subject area, who are frequently only familiar with the literature of the humanities, liberal arts, and area studies. Major multidisciplinary databases, such as Academic Search Premier, the MLA International Bibliography, the Film Studies Index and the Bibliography of Asian Studies cover a significant percentage of the current literature on anime and manga, but by no means the totality of it. Gaps in their coverage are particularly prominent in the fields of business and the law.
The scope of the list is limited to articles in law reviews and peer-reviewed legal journals published in English, whether in paper and electronically, or online only. Several of the articles listed were written by professors, while the authors of others were law students. Each features a discussion of anime/manga related topics in some detail in the main body of the article. Several dozen others that either mention these themes in passing, in footnotes only, or merely cite one of these have been excluded. Entries are arranged in reverse chronological order, from the most recent to the earliest. At this point, all citations are in APA style, rather than Bluebook, since the target audience of this document will be scholars of the humanities and popular culture, rather than of the law.
Two particular cases in the U.S. deal specifically with issues related to Japanese visual culture in general and Japanese comics in particular. In U.S. v. Whorley, 550 F. 3d 326 (2008), a defendant was found guilty of child pornography charges for, among other things, downloading anime-style images that appeared to depict underaged characters engaging in sexual behavior with adults. In the second, U.S. v. Handley, 564 F.Supp.2d 996 (2008), the defendant was charged with the same crimes after receiving actual manga volumes containing child pornography images. Several of the charges were dismissed, but ultimately, Handley pled guilty to one count each of 'possession of obscene visual representations of the sexual abuse of children' and 'mailing obscene matter.'
- April, Keisha. Cartoons aren't real people, too: Does the regulation of virtual child pornography violate the First Amendment and criminalize subversive thought? Cardozo Journal of Law and Gender, 19, 241-272.
- Greenberg, Marc. Comics, courts & controversy: A case study of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund. Loyola of Los Angeles Entertainment Law Review, 32, 121-186.
- Rembert-Lang, LaToya. Reinforcing the Tower of Babel: The impact of copyright law on fansubbing. American University Intellectual Property Brief, 2(2), 21-33.
- Greene, David. The need for expert testimony to prove lack of serious artistic value in obscenity cases. Nexus: A Journal of Opinion, 10, 171-178.
- Hatcher, Jordan. Of otakus and fansubs: A critical look at anime online in light of current issues in copyright law. SCRIPTed: A Journal of Law, Technology & Society, 2, 514-542.
- Leonard, Sean. Celebrating two decades of unlawful progress: Fan distribution, proselytization commons, and the explosive growth of Japanese animation. UCLA Entertainment Law Review, 12, 189-264.
- McLelland, Mark. The world of yaoi: The internet, censorship and the global "boys’ love" fandom. The Australian Feminist Law Journal, 23, 61-77.