JAV Museum

Breaking news: R18.com is closing. What does this mean for you?

Okita Anri and Hitomi Tanaka promoting R18.com in a bygone age (AVN Expo 2015)

Today, the owners of popular online JAV retailer R18.com announced the website's forthcoming closure.

In a notice posted on the website, Japan-based Digital Commerce stated that they will stop selling content on the site next month, which will shut down completely in January next year, resulting in customers losing access to all their purchases.

No reason was provided for this decision, but it almost certainly relates to the long-standing payment processing issues that have been plaguing the website for the past several months.

Because R18.com uses Digital Restrictions Management (DRM), even if you download a purchased video as a .dcv file, you will be unable to play it once the site shuts down in January.

Some (understandably) annoyed customers have suggested that purchases should be transferred to FANZA (a Japanese language online retailer also operated by Digital Commerce that uses the same account system). This has, however, been ruled out in the FAQs:

Note that we do not cancel or refund the purchased movies and cannot transfer them to other website.

So, what can you do about this? Many customers will wonder if they can get a refund for their past purchases. After all, some customers will have spent hundreds or even thousands of dollars on videos. The prospect of them all disappearing into the ether is difficult to stomach.

Unfortunately, Digital Commerce have made it very clear that customers will not be offered refunds for purchased videos. This may appear shocking. After all, when the BBC Store closed down in 2017 or the Microsoft Store's books section closed in 2019, both companies offered full refunds of purchases to customers.

However, whereas the BBC and Microsoft have reputations to protect, with Digital Commerce exiting the international market, their reputation amongst international customers probably doesn't matter to them too much.

Could this be grounds for a lawsuit? I am not a lawyer, but it would be a difficult case to make. Digital Commerce would almost certainly point out that the R18.com Terms of Service (which all customers agree to) state:

The operator may, notwithstanding the specification of the viewing period at the time of purchase, change the viewing period for the purchased digital contents if compelling circumstances exist. In such case, the operator shall be under no obligation to give any refund to the user.

Essentially, they could argue that you don't purchase the video itself, but rather a licence to watch the video that can be revoked by them at any time, for any reason.

There is, however, some small consolation in that any customers with a DMM Points balance have the right to request a refund for those points. According to the announcement, customers can do this via a special web page, however when yours truly attempted to access this page, only an error message was displayed. Here's hoping this is just a temporary issue!

If it does start working, be sure to waste no time in requesting a refund, as Digital Commerce has warned about the possibility that "the points refund application and website may close before the due date due to unexpected reasons". I should note that this requires you to have (or create) a PayPal account, which is unfortunately not possible for everyone.

Today's news highlights the dangers of DRM. It's a real shame that so many JAV retailers do not respect their customers and lock away their purchases with this kind of malware. It makes it all the more important to support websites that allow you to download videos to keep forever, even after they eventually close. JAV websites I've personally purchased from and confirmed they provide DRM-free downloads include:

Below is the full announcement from Digital Commerce:

Notice of R18.com Closure

After 9 years of helping people discover and share great contents,
R18.com will stop selling content from October 24, 2022. From this date, users will have access to their already purchased content only.

A few months later, from January 31, 2023 the site will be completely closed and accessing purchased content will not be possible.
Note that it is possible that the points refund application and website may close before the due date due to unexpected reasons.

If you have unused purchased points and would like to get a refund,
please use the points refund form for requesting the purchased points refund.

Points refund form:https://www.r18.com/my/refund/

For any questions, please refer to the FAQ as follows.
FAQ: https://www.r18.com/info/faq/
Contact: https://www.r18.com/my/contact/

We are proud of the community that rallied around R18.com and we know many of you will be sad to see it go.
All the best from the R18.com team, and may you always find what you are looking for.

we'll miss it dearly…