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The Law of Anime Part III: Defending Yourself


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Lyrai



Joined: 04 Sep 2005
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Location: Potatoes (Idaho)

PostPosted: Fri Feb 22, 2013 5:24 pm Reply with quote
In reguards to abridged series, I've always seen them as continuing to exist simply by the good graces of the rights owners. I know the YuGiOh one had it's first episode taken down off youtube, and in response, LittleKuriboh filmed himself on the streets doing all the voices and the motions. Even with using the names from YuGiOh and the general 'plot points', is this still safe, or could Konami still come after him for that instance, specifically?

Is there any legal benefit or reason for a company to make an official statement on abridged series? I mean, I went out and picked up the Orange Box DVDs for Dragonball Z because the abridged series reminded me that even for all it's faults, it's a great popcorn show. (Also, the orange boxes were cheap). Is it better for a company to let Abridged Series just float off to the side without comment; could they cause some kind of legal damage to their brand or show if they took any form of official stance on it?
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dtm42



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PostPosted: Fri Feb 22, 2013 5:27 pm Reply with quote
Part three? What happened to part two? Did I miss something?
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Zac
ANN Executive Editor


Joined: 05 Jan 2002
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 22, 2013 5:35 pm Reply with quote
dtm42 wrote:
Part three? What happened to part two? Did I miss something?


It's part of last week's.
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dtm42



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PostPosted: Fri Feb 22, 2013 5:42 pm Reply with quote
I thought it was strange that people were talking about cosplay even though it hadn't been mentioned in part one. Looks like I didn't turn see the link at the bottom of part one. Well, that explains that.
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Chagen46



Joined: 27 Jun 2010
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 22, 2013 5:52 pm Reply with quote
I have to ask: if you are a creator and owner of a copyright, can you specifically allow for leeway in these rules?

For example, if I were to create a album of music and sell it in hard copy form, would it be within my legal rights to specifically state that I do not mind if people reproduce it and spread it for free throughout the internet?

I've read stories of how some musicians have actually seen increased sales of their music due to exposure from piracy. As someone who is aspiring to be an amateur musician later on in my life, I'm wondering if this is actually possible.
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dtm42



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PostPosted: Fri Feb 22, 2013 6:01 pm Reply with quote
^
Mr. Thordsen did mention the Creative Common License in his first article. Chagen46, you should google the term, it is quite an interesting idea that is along the lines of what you are looking for. It allows content creators to put their works up for free to increase exposure, or just to help out fans who are then free to donate to the creator if desired (but they aren't obligated to). Of course there's different versions of the license, which does slightly complicate matters, but you'll find out all about that if you research it.

There's also the GNU Public License, but that's mainly used for software (though it can be used for practically anything).
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Cecilthedarkknight_234



Joined: 02 Apr 2011
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 22, 2013 6:07 pm Reply with quote
Chagen46 wrote:
I have to ask: if you are a creator and owner of a copyright, can you specifically allow for leeway in these rules?

For example, if I were to create a album of music and sell it in hard copy form, would it be within my legal rights to specifically state that I do not mind if people reproduce it and spread it for free throughout the internet?


I've read stories of how some musicians have actually seen increased sales of their music due to exposure from piracy. As someone who is aspiring to be an amateur musician later on in my life, I'm wondering if this is actually possible.



@Chagen46 Well if you sign up for license contract with a studio then own rights to your songs since they are help publishing, advertising, basically selling your image/voice. However what you are doing is making and selling the said music yourself under self publication laws. No one owns said rights to that but you and if you didn't mind I don't think any legal recourse could be taken if you don't want to pursue it. I would think the same would go for creative writing online that is not fan-fiction but people still want to buy/read however i'm not the lawyer here.

On top I have a personal blog that I haven't really done anything with over 4 months now. I do review/criticize movies, games, anime, manga/comics and do some news. So my question is this If i post as stated fan art, you-tube links for trailers/play troughs etc. does this still fall under fair use?? Take for example this video I uploaded to you-tube for beta test of game that I'm going to do an article on.

http://www.youtube.com/​watch?​v=​nKWzRXpbr50
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Chagen46



Joined: 27 Jun 2010
Posts: 4263

PostPosted: Fri Feb 22, 2013 6:16 pm Reply with quote
dtm42 wrote:
^
Mr. Thordsen did mention the Creative Common License in his first article. Chagen46, you should google the term, it is quite an interesting idea that is along the lines of what you are looking for. It allows content creators to put their works up for free to increase exposure, or just to help out fans who are then free to donate to the creator if desired (but they aren't obligated to). Of course there's different versions of the license, which does slightly complicate matters, but you'll find out all about that if you research it.

There's also the GNU Public License, but that's mainly used for software (though it can be used for practically anything).


Yeah, I just remembered that. It seems like what I need.

Given how any music I do create will probably be distributed onlineby me (though that would mean that making hard copies would be out of the question, most likely) through means of something such as Bandcamp, I don't think it would even matter that much.
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S.Thordsen



Joined: 15 Feb 2013
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 22, 2013 6:19 pm Reply with quote
So everyone is aware - I apologize but I will not be able to field questions on this article until late tonight. I have several matters in office that require my attention and will not be able to read and respond until I get home from work so bear with me and I will get around to it.

Again please keep in mind that I also am not able to answer specific scenario questions for legal reasons, I can only answer questions pertaining to the article/education specifically or speak in general terms.
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TitanXL



Joined: 08 Jun 2010
Posts: 4036

PostPosted: Fri Feb 22, 2013 7:00 pm Reply with quote
Lyrai wrote:
In reguards to abridged series, I've always seen them as continuing to exist simply by the good graces of the rights owners. I know the YuGiOh one had it's first episode taken down off youtube, and in response, LittleKuriboh filmed himself on the streets doing all the voices and the motions. Even with using the names from YuGiOh and the general 'plot points', is this still safe, or could Konami still come after him for that instance, specifically?

Is there any legal benefit or reason for a company to make an official statement on abridged series? I mean, I went out and picked up the Orange Box DVDs for Dragonball Z because the abridged series reminded me that even for all it's faults, it's a great popcorn show. (Also, the orange boxes were cheap). Is it better for a company to let Abridged Series just float off to the side without comment; could they cause some kind of legal damage to their brand or show if they took any form of official stance on it?


I could see why a company wouldn't want it; it ruins the show's image since it now has to be associated with awful jokes and memes like "Ghost Nappa" or "Screw the rules" and crap that unimaginitive people parrot at any given opportunity. I suppose suing for libel is out of the question, but that's just me. It doesn't help they tend to throw in other copyrighted works like splicing in a pop artist's song or something.
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ninjaclown



Joined: 17 Dec 2008
Posts: 196

PostPosted: Fri Feb 22, 2013 7:05 pm Reply with quote
Thanks for your hard work, Mr. Thordsen.
Reading this does remind me of Brawl in the Family, a webcomic based on the Smash Bros video game series. They have been selling merchandise, and I wonder if they're protected by any copyright defense if at all, or could Nintendo sue them at any time.
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Kikaioh



Joined: 01 Jun 2009
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 22, 2013 8:34 pm Reply with quote
What a great series of articles. Very Happy They confirm a lot of what I've learned about copyright over the years, but also offer insight into areas I wasn't aware of yet (I'd never heard of affirmative defense until this article, and it's often those sorts of real-world applications of concepts like fair use that I've the least knowledge of). Thanks so much to Mr. Thorsden and ANN for publishing this series of articles, they're a great read.

Chagen46 wrote:
I have to ask: if you are a creator and owner of a copyright, can you specifically allow for leeway in these rules?

For example, if I were to create a album of music and sell it in hard copy form, would it be within my legal rights to specifically state that I do not mind if people reproduce it and spread it for free throughout the internet?

I've read stories of how some musicians have actually seen increased sales of their music due to exposure from piracy. As someone who is aspiring to be an amateur musician later on in my life, I'm wondering if this is actually possible.


As a musician looking to make your works freely available on the Internet, you might be interested in the ccmixter website, which hosts works openly available for public use on the Internet via the creative commons license.

That said, I have my doubts as to whether the free-to-enjoy model is a sustainable approach for creative industries (and in some respects, I think it actually devalues creative works, and encourages a "throw-away-entertainment" culture). I say this largely because thousands of artists in the web-comics-creation space have already been making their works freely available on the Internet for over a decade, and in spite of the myriad technically accomplished and quality works available online, it seems only a few dozen comics artists have actually managed to make a living off of the model. It seems that when an independent comic artist has to wear the many technically challenging hats of businessman, publisher, advertiser, etc., the likelihood for failure increases enormously --- in that sense, the model of relegated duties afforded by entertainment industry models seems to be of more benefit to an artist than some might give credit.

TitanXL wrote:
I could see why a company wouldn't want it; it ruins the show's image since it now has to be associated with awful jokes and memes like "Ghost Nappa" or "Screw the rules" and crap that unimaginitive people parrot at any given opportunity. I suppose suing for libel is out of the question, but that's just me. It doesn't help they tend to throw in other copyrighted works like splicing in a pop artist's song or something.


Although some might disagree with your opinion (I have some friends who really enjoy the abridged series) it does bring up a good point about some of the overlooked reasonings behind copyright protections. If someone chooses to use your creative works in a way that you personally find distasteful or disagree with, copyright affords a content-creator a certain degree of protection from having his/her works directly associated with those points of views. I recall during the recent elections that certain music groups complained about having their works played during televised political events and fund-raisers --- imagine if their works were used for something even more controversial (like a neo-nazi rally for example).
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hooliganj



Joined: 03 Jul 2004
Posts: 73
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 22, 2013 11:21 pm Reply with quote
I'm enjoying these articles very much. Excellent work, Mr. Thordsen.

I've had a few encounters with IP law in the past, and would be interested in reading an installation in this series that covered some of the more famous cases, such as Sony vs Universal City or A&M v Napster, or any oft-cited precedents you might include.
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partysmores



Joined: 23 Oct 2011
Posts: 284

PostPosted: Fri Feb 22, 2013 11:58 pm Reply with quote
Where were those browser games with anime characters in them count? For example, I've seen an ad for some pirate browser game with Luffy in it on multiple anime sites, and a ninja one with Naruto. The games themselves have nothing to do with the franchises.
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S.Thordsen



Joined: 15 Feb 2013
Posts: 15
Location: Santa Ana, CA

PostPosted: Sat Feb 23, 2013 2:52 am Reply with quote
Lyrai wrote:
In reguards to abridged series, I've always seen them as continuing to exist simply by the good graces of the rights owners. I know the YuGiOh one had it's first episode taken down off youtube, and in response, LittleKuriboh filmed himself on the streets doing all the voices and the motions. Even with using the names from YuGiOh and the general 'plot points', is this still safe, or could Konami still come after him for that instance, specifically?

Is there any legal benefit or reason for a company to make an official statement on abridged series? I mean, I went out and picked up the Orange Box DVDs for Dragonball Z because the abridged series reminded me that even for all it's faults, it's a great popcorn show. (Also, the orange boxes were cheap). Is it better for a company to let Abridged Series just float off to the side without comment; could they cause some kind of legal damage to their brand or show if they took any form of official stance on it?


As discussed in the second article, the benefit of not pursuing these creators is generally the fact that it may be bad PR to pursue someone who is producing a work for fun and love and isn't deriving a real profit off of it. Again it's a practicality. As far as I view it, abridged series aren't particularly harmful because they generally only appeal to fans of the show and their criticism for things such as plot holes or poor characterization are no different from a negative review someone may post.

Chagen46 wrote:
I have to ask: if you are a creator and owner of a copyright, can you specifically allow for leeway in these rules?

For example, if I were to create a album of music and sell it in hard copy form, would it be within my legal rights to specifically state that I do not mind if people reproduce it and spread it for free throughout the internet?

I've read stories of how some musicians have actually seen increased sales of their music due to exposure from piracy. As someone who is aspiring to be an amateur musician later on in my life, I'm wondering if this is actually possible.


A post above me already covered this but using a Creative Common License (which basically functions like a contract) is a good method because it allows you to clearly state what you are allowing and not allowing your work to be used for. Keep in mind that sometimes this can be a good business model but other times now. A good example of one where releasing something free worked was the book "Go the F*** to Sleep" which was originally released digitally for free. Music is another matter entirely however since the music industry has been an interesting flux over the last many years with the onset of the digital age and iTunes.

Cecilthedarkknight_234 wrote:
[q
On top I have a personal blog that I haven't really done anything with over 4 months now. I do review/criticize movies, games, anime, manga/comics and do some news. So my question is this If i post as stated fan art, you-tube links for trailers/play troughs etc. does this still fall under fair use?? Take for example this video I uploaded to you-tube for beta test of game that I'm going to do an article on.

http://www.youtube.com/​watch?​v=​nKWzRXpbr50


Again, I can't get into specifics for legal reasons as I cannot provide legal advice without the proper paperwork and retention (Professional Responsibility and Civil Code reasons of which California and Nevada are particularly strict.) However as stated I would recommend looking at the factors of a fair use analysis. Newsreporting and critiquing is an element of fair use but it is not definitive. The amount of use is a factors as well - and one of the most substantial. An easy comparison would be to look at video reviews done by professional websites like IGN or Gametrailers, notice how these videos are using the copyrighted imagery but it is only a means to the review and isn't produced in large blocks of unedited footage and is ancillary to the review itself.

Once more though, also remember that fair use is an affirmative defense and only useful in the event you are sued. I had one client who ran a public interest website who was sued by Getty Images for copyright infringement for using an image from their site without permission. With all the factors considered my client did have a strong fair use defense as the use of the picture was ancillary to the web page's public concern matters and no profit was drawn from the use of the image. In contacting Getty I informed them that (amongst other things) the fair use defense was strongly in my client's favor and it did convince them to go away. Keep in mind that they were also aware he was represented by counsel who knew how to and was prepared to argue this in court if necessary.

ninjaclown wrote:
Thanks for your hard work, Mr. Thordsen.
Reading this does remind me of Brawl in the Family, a webcomic based on the Smash Bros video game series. They have been selling merchandise, and I wonder if they're protected by any copyright defense if at all, or could Nintendo sue them at any time.


Nintendo could in fact sue them but would likely send a Cease and Desist letter first. No matter how much of a labor of love a fan work is, selling products associated with it is an infringement. There is case law involving Superman that states if the creator of a work does not own the underlying copyright he has no enforceable rights to what he produced either. This is something I frequently contemplate while roaming exhibit halls at anime conventions when I see booths selling posters and shirts that are clearly of licensed material but were not authorized.

hooliganj wrote:
I'm enjoying these articles very much. Excellent work, Mr. Thordsen.

I've had a few encounters with IP law in the past, and would be interested in reading an installation in this series that covered some of the more famous cases, such as Sony vs Universal City or A&M v Napster, or any oft-cited precedents you might include.


I have given consideration as to putting something together regarding legal issues that pop up either in new case law or news articles that involve legal implications.

partysmores wrote:
Where were those browser games with anime characters in them count? For example, I've seen an ad for some pirate browser game with Luffy in it on multiple anime sites, and a ninja one with Naruto. The games themselves have nothing to do with the franchises.


These are interesting as I have given constant consideration to these over the years. Depending on what they are they can involve several problems. The browser games to which you refer are unlicensed and generally (once you click on them) do not lead to a game involving those characters at all. The advertising is misleading and generally constitutes copyright, trademark infringement or both. In some cases it's clear misappropriation where the infringer is using the trademark in order to mislead consumers into thinking that their product is officially licensed. In other cases it could lead to a trademark dilution lawsuit because a lot of those browser games lead to websites that install viruses or trojans which the rights holder could argue damages their brand name by making consumers think that they would associate with an inferior and damaging product.

In many ways this is also true of all those ads on Facebook that advertise animation schools but use some anime artwork and a cosplayer to try and fool the viewer into thinking that the artwork is of the cosplayer. (There are several other potential infringements involved in these too).
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