Manga Scans: Are They Illegal?

Manga scans have gained immense popularity among English-speaking readers, providing access to a wide range of manga titles. However, the legality of manga scans is highly questionable. In this article, we will delve into the world of manga, exploring why scanlations are illegal and their impact. We will also present alternative methods for enjoying manga legally.

What Are Manga Scans?

Manga Scanlation is simply the translated digital scans of manga chapters. Manga Scans are done by groups of people who buy manga, scan, translate, and edit them to translate them from the Japanese language to English or any other language. Nowadays, Scanlation is done to near perfection, sometimes even redrawing certain parts of the manga to completely remove the Japanese.

One of the main reasons manga scans became so popular is the late releases of official translations while the fans want to read their favorite manga as soon as possible. Manga Scans allow people to read manga in their language without waiting months for the officially translated manga. They are also great for people who live in countries where manga is not as easily accessible as in Japan or US. It is the only way for people to read manga titles that haven’t been released in their country or area.

Are Manga Scans Illegal?

Yes and No. Most free manga reading sites you will find on the internet are uploading the manga scans without the author’s or the publisher’s permission, making them illegal. Still, there are also sites like Manga Plus by SHUEISHA that have been created by the publishers who have the rights to the manga scans they upload.

Technically, you can do whatever you want with the manga copy you buy but that doesn’t include scanning and uploading them on the internet to earn profit for something you didn’t create.

Why Are Manga Scans Illegal?

Most of the manga scans you will find online are illegal as they’ve been done by fans or translating groups. Such manga scans are unlawful as they infringe upon copyright law. The publishing company holds the copyright to the manga titles they publish and it is illegal to upload the work online and profit from it.

Scanlations are tolerated by the official publishers as long as they don’t overstep their boundaries.

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Is It Illegal to Print Out Manga?

If you want to print out scanlations for personal reading then that’s kind of a grey area since scanlations themselves infringe on the copyright held by the publishers. If you print out officially published manga chapters for personal reading then it would be illegal as well but it doesn’t really matter since no one would even know you printed scanlations to read.

But if you’re printing manga, be it scanlations or officially released chapters, and are selling them to earn a profit, it’s completely illegal. You do not hold the right to print those manga and if caught making pirated copies, legal action could be taken against you.

So, instead of printing manga scans, I would recommend buying manga, which also helps the author.

Impact of Manga Scanlations

Manga scans uploaded on the internet have a significant impact on the publishers and the creators.

  • Financial Loss :- Scanlation results in lower sales of the manga, resulting in financial loss for the publishing company. Manga & Anime piracy cost the publishers over $15 billion in loss in 2021 alone. It has even threatened the livelihood of many mangakas who depend on the earnings from sales to make more mangas.
  • Affects Author’s Motivation :- If an author earns a measly amount of money after working on the manga tirelessly each week, then it’s inevitable that the author would lose motivation to keep working.
  • Easily Accessible Sexual & Violent Content :- There are also manga with adult content which are now easily accessible on the internet for anyone to read. Reading such manga can have a negative impact on kids and young people.

How to Read Manga Legally


Let’s take a look at a couple of websites where you can read manga legally:

  • Manga Plus by SHUEISHA :- MangaPlus is an official manga reading website by the publishing company SHUEISHA. You can read the latest chapters of the best manga out there for free.
  • Viz :- Weekly Shonen Jump is the most popular magazine in Japan, publishing many popular manga titles. The magazine started its online journey with the launch of Viz, a manga reading site where for a payment of $2.99/month you can read a vast collection of manga.
  • ComicWalker :- Kadokawa is a major name in the manga & anime industry. To solve the problem of illegal manga reading sites, the company decided to launch its own site called ComicWalker. A lot of popular manga titles are available on the site.

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While manga scanlation may provide temporary convenience, its legality remains questionable. Scanning and uploading manga illegally on the internet not only violates copyright laws but also harms the manga industry as a whole. By supporting official releases and exploring legal alternatives, readers can contribute to the sustainability and growth of the manga community while enjoying their favorite titles guilt-free.

Remember, respect for creators and their work should always be a priority when indulging in the world of manga.

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