According to this Yahoo Japan news item, publisher Kodansha has ceased production of shojo manga by artist Suetsugu Yuki because the work contained plagiarized scenes from several of Inoue Takehiko’s comics. The rabble-rousers over at 2-Ch are credited with bringing attention to these illicit borrowings.
In the past, some have argued that Japanese culture has no inherent concept of “intellectual property” or cultural thievery, but this new development shows that companies at least behave as if artistic theft results in a loss of reputation. Before the internet, there was no outlet for critical discussion of these types of commercial transgressions; manga fans a mere decade ago had little to no resource for lodging audible public complaints about sloppy pakuri — especially with the mass media (most of them manga publishers themselves) rarely picking this kind of fight. In theory, businesses in Japan are supposed to be self-regulating, but now with the better access to open media, fans can take over this correction function and do it more efficiently than the industry.
Whatever the case, these stories and ever-stricter sampling laws make it hard to believe that artistic theft is not publicly understood as a “bad” thing in Japan. And once again, 2-ch steers the media dialogue into new directions.