Is Manga Translation Illegal? (Discover) 

The topic of Manga translation is very timely as we are in a period of pirated content and illegal distribution of media.

Some Manga (a small number) are translated legally by their original distributors. There is legal literature on the subject.

You may be familiar with several internet services. Renta,, Crunchyroll, Viz Media, Lezhin, Kodanshacomics, Comixology, and others are examples.

However, the one we read on free sites, which does not cost us anything except our internet fee, is referred to as a scanlated site.

These are unlawful websites scanlated is a combination of scanned and translated. Who conducts the scanning? This is something that fans do.

Fans that are fluent in both Japanese and English scan and translate these comics. There are only a few agencies that do this type of work.

Manga translation is a topic that is in high demand right now because of the prevalence of pirated content and unauthorized media distribution.
Manga translation is a topic that is in high demand right now because of the prevalence of pirated content and unauthorized media distribution.

The fan translations are pretty big among Anime and Manga fans. Many series have their own fansubs, fan subs, or scans.

Fansubs are made available online, often done by multiple people at once. In the fandom, fansubbers pour their heart and soul into producing quality translations and extras (e.g. quizzes, bloopers).

It’s a way for them to support the show they love and shares it with others worldwide in addition to their local friends and family who might not be able to read the language of the original anime series in question.

Fan translations, scanlations, and subs are lawfully not legal at all since they violate the copyrights of the original Manga and can cause financial loss to the creators. This blog will shed more light on this topic. 

What are scanlations?

Japan's streets are a reflection of Manga's influence.
Japan’s streets are a reflection of Manga’s influence.

Scanlation (sometimes spelled scanslation) is the scanning, translating, and editing of comic books from one language into another by fans.

Scanlation is done as a hobby and almost always without the express consent of the copyright holder. Scanlation is a combination of the terms scan and translation.

The phrase is most commonly associated with Japanese Manga, while it is also used for other national traditions on a smaller scale. Scanlations can be seen online or as a collection of picture files downloaded from the Internet.

Many scanlators and readers suggest that scanlation exists in a legal and moral “grey zone” for series that have yet to be licensed in English.

They believe that, regardless of how unlawful they are, scans allow overseas readers to explore new series and become fans.

These scans, under this “free publicity” and “spread the love” zone, assist in expanding the market for Manga among people who might not otherwise be aware of it.

Are Manga fan translations illegal?

Yes, Manga fan translations are considered theft by law. 

As an Anime lover, you may have come across ad-filled scanlations; fan-translated Manga published on various internet sites that are problematic in terms of legality.

These products may be a ‘cheaper’ choice for you, but they undercut the material provided by Manga artists. So, if you want to make a significant contribution to the Anime series you adore, there are legal, sites where you may read Manga or other comparable comic kinds like manhwa or manhua for free.

Unless you don’t read these translations from a licensed website it would be considered illegal under US copyright laws that state that, unless the copyright is transferred by contract or 50 years pass after the author’s death, ownership of a work belongs to the author (75 years for a corporate work).

There are therefore legitimate websites where you may read free Manga or other analogous comic types.

In addition to motion pictures and sound recordings, the Copyright Act of 1976 covers literary, musical, dramatic, choreographic, visual, sculptural, and architectural works.

Japanese copyright laws are not different they also grant the author the right to protect the integrity of his or her work against any alteration, theft, mutilation, or any other distortion without his or her permission. 

Fansubs, translations, or scanlations all come under the umbrella of unlicensed copies and alterations of works that do not have the creators’ contractual consent.

Lawsuits and cease and remove orders are entirely within the author’s rights. You may have seen Nintendo do this with YouTube videos.

Nintendo frequently removes videos containing their video game material, which is fair as it is their legal right. Owners of Manga and anime may preserve their work in the same way.

A Manga fan’s opinion on scanlations

Is Scanlation illegal?

Scanlations grew in popularity due, in part, to a shortage of translated Japanese Manga releases outside of Japan.

Manga lovers collaborated and shared translation efforts since buying Manga comics straight from Japan was frequently prohibitively costly, and understanding the originals required knowledge of the language.

Fans frequently regard scanlations as the only means to read comics that have not been licensed for distribution in their region. 

Scans, on the other hand, are forbidden under international copyright law, such as the Berne Convention. 

Reading Manga online on unlicensed websites with ad-filled scanlations isn’t the best option when there are free legal Manga-related websites readers can enjoy without having to avoid annoying commercials.

What are Scanlator Ethics?

Many scanlators, particularly older ones, have an ethical code that bans them from scanning licensed works; they only translate material that isn’t accessible in English, and they remove the scans once the word of a book’s licensing breaks before it is released. 

This allows them to rationalize copyright infringement since it is merely theoretical, the copyright holder isn’t losing any sales and, in reality, it generates an audience for the book, increasing the likelihood that it will be licensed and sell well in the United States. 

Fan translators, who have always adhered to a shared code of ethics, do not regard themselves as pirates.

They only charge enough to cover their costs, and many fansubs include subtitle language that reads “free fansub: not for sale or rent” to dissuade bootleggers.

Some publishers argue that scanlations oversaturate the market and render a work less salable. What is unarguable is that uploading a work without permission is a breach of copyright.

How can you read Manga online legally?

There are legal Manga reading options available for you to use online if you want to read them without worrying about doing so illegally.

These websites are a partnership between Japanese publishers and English distributors that informs you if there are genuine channels of digital, print, streaming, and DVD for Manga and Anime.

Anime and Manga studios are teeming with individuals who work far harder than you can fathom for considerably lower compensation than you realize.

Every yen is tremendously valuable to these individuals. You can go with these websites as well as they are all legal and licensed.

Websites And CompaniesCompatibility With Devices And Browsers
ComixologyAndroids, IOS, Kindle, Browser
VIZ MangaAndroids and IOS
Shounen JumpAndroid, IOS, Browser
CrunchyrollAndroid, IOS, Browser
Book WalkerAndroid, IOS, PC, MAC, Browser
Legal sites and apps to read Manga


  • Translations done by fans without the permission of the creators and publishers are illegal.
  • Scanlations, fan subs, and Manga translations are often pirated and may not have the correct translation.
  • Scanlation is a fan labor that they do to make Manga accessible to people who cannot find these translations elsewhere. 
  • Although this is a copyright infringement issue most fan translators consider it a way to boost the Manga’s popularity. 

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