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Answerman - Is Cosplay Copyright Infringement?


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Actar



Joined: 21 Nov 2010
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 20, 2018 11:34 am Reply with quote
Wasn't there already a huge, huge article on anime and copyright written by Sean Thordsen (an intellectual property lawyer)? Not sure why it wasn't linked in these series of Answerman answers.

animenewsnetwork.com/feature/the-law-of-anime/2013-02-15/2


Last edited by Actar on Wed Jun 20, 2018 11:36 am; edited 1 time in total
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Kadmos1



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PostPosted: Wed Jun 20, 2018 11:35 am Reply with quote
Courts will decide whether fan projects are infringement on a case-by-case basis. Now, it's rich when rights holders, especially the Disney Empire, pull the infringement cards when they often incorporate characters and story aspects from the public domain.
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DerekL1963
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 20, 2018 11:57 am Reply with quote
Kadmos1 wrote:
Now, it's rich when rights holders, especially the Disney Empire, pull the infringement cards when they often incorporate characters and story aspects from the public domain.


o.0 No. The two things are not in the least comparable. It's not possible to infringe on public domain works - and it's quite legal to create your own versions of public domain works and then copyright those version.
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Jonny Mendes



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PostPosted: Wed Jun 20, 2018 12:28 pm Reply with quote
I didn't know how bad Cosplay Copyrights was in US. I suspected it was bad because of how strong is Copyright rights are in US.

I only was familiar with cosplay in Japan. Cosplay can be almost encouraged because is free publicity. You even can see some artists and witters cosplaying famous characters from other artists.

Is still some problems if you profit from making costumes for selling, were rights come to play some role. But if is made for yourself, there is no problem so far.

There was a bit scare in the community because of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, but since US is out, they have less to fear.
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Kadmos1



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PostPosted: Wed Jun 20, 2018 12:58 pm Reply with quote
DerekL1963 wrote:
Kadmos1 wrote:
Now, it's rich when rights holders, especially the Disney Empire, pull the infringement cards when they often incorporate characters and story aspects from the public domain.


o.0 No. The two things are not in the least comparable. It's not possible to infringe on public domain works - and it's quite legal to create your own versions of public domain works and then copyright those version.


In my eyes, copyright restoration is public domain infringement not from a legal sense, but a practical sense. Also, a copyrighted version of a now public domain is a fan work to a degree, thus going after someone that makes fan work of that version is a bit hypocritical or ironic.
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EricJ2



Joined: 01 Feb 2014
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 20, 2018 1:34 pm Reply with quote
Quote:
More aggressive copyright litigants like Disney have gone hard against everyone from costume companies to day care centers trying to protect their characters in this way.


A better Disney comparison is when the theme parks have their Halloween parties, and encourage dressing up as Disney characters, but--as a rule that can have you ejected from the parks--NOT to the degree that other guests would confuse partygoers with the professional character actors in the licensed costumes.
Ie., if you're at the parks for dressup night, and your Queen Elsa or Jack Sparrow is so perfectly on-model detailed that kids and other guests go to you for photo opportunities instead of the "real" thing, the company has some grievances about that.

With cosplay, it's pretty much the same thing:
There's no law against dressing up for Halloween, just so long as you don't try to profit off of it with some other company's idea.


Last edited by EricJ2 on Wed Jun 20, 2018 10:52 pm; edited 1 time in total
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CorneredAngel
It...it's not like I post for you or anything!It...it's not like I post for you or anything!


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PostPosted: Wed Jun 20, 2018 1:43 pm Reply with quote
Quote:
However, unless you're dressing up and playing the character for money (such as party entertainment or in a play or something), you're probably okay.


I actually have always wondered why Disney and everyone else potentially involved has not made a bigger deal of the panhandler "cosplayers" in Times Square - the guys in ratty superhero costumes standing around, posing for pictures with tourists, then harassing them for a couple of dollars.

Every now and then, one of them will get arrested for being too aggressive, but that's another thing entirely. Though, I guess, hey, you can't arrest someone for copyright infringement. And it's not like suing them would get anywhere!
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EricJ2



Joined: 01 Feb 2014
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 20, 2018 1:58 pm Reply with quote
CorneredAngel wrote:
Quote:
However, unless you're dressing up and playing the character for money (such as party entertainment or in a play or something), you're probably okay.


I actually have always wondered why Disney and everyone else potentially involved has not made a bigger deal of the panhandler "cosplayers" in Times Square - the guys in ratty superhero costumes standing around, posing for pictures with tourists, then harassing them for a couple of dollars.


Didn't know they were doing that in Times Square--
Knew that was the case in Hollywood, where, decades ago, the Hollywood & Vine district tried to play up "Old-Hollywood" tourism with professional Charlie Chaplin, Marilyn Monroe, Laurel & Hardy, etc, lookalikes to mill about interacting with guests at iconic tourist locations.
But then, in the 80's, court decisions declared it okay for a star's estate to license their image, the old stars were now too copyrighted to exploit, and whatever tourist characters did show up were usually sponsored by studios, like Warner putting a Superman character there, or Paramount putting a Spongebob character there...And yes, forcing the performer to get his own hideously amateur off-the-rack or homemade party-mascot suit out of his own pocket.
And, of course, that's if they were actually hired, and not the unemployed private-sector after the licensed studios gave up on that market. Confused
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zrdb



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PostPosted: Wed Jun 20, 2018 2:09 pm Reply with quote
Copyrighting cosplay? You gotta be kidding me! What's next-everything? Sheesh!!
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DerekL1963
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Joined: 14 Jan 2015
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 20, 2018 4:11 pm Reply with quote
Kadmos1 wrote:
In my eyes, copyright restoration is public domain infringement not from a legal sense, but a practical sense.


Since copyright restoration isn't the issue here... How it this relevant?

Quote:
Also, a copyrighted version of a now public domain is a fan work to a degree, thus going after someone that makes fan work of that version is a bit hypocritical or ironic.


No, it's not a fan work to any degree. Words have meaning, and arguments and beliefs that arise from things they don't mean are irrelevant.
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Mr. sickVisionz
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 20, 2018 6:17 pm Reply with quote
I don't know how, in a vacuum, wearing a costume at a convention would be copyright infringement. Selling photos or getting paid to do impersonations while in the costume, as if you're some officially sanctioned person is a different story.

Especially when a lot of this is homemade and even more of it is bought off of a store shelf or dealer room table and sold/advertised as costumes to wear.

Kadmos1 wrote:
Courts will decide whether fan projects are infringement on a case-by-case basis. Now, it's rich when rights holders, especially the Disney Empire, pull the infringement cards when they often incorporate characters and story aspects from the public domain.


They do it for money but at the same time, Mickey Mouse is *still* their mascot *and* it's associated mostly with children. There's something to be said for not letting anyone just slap an official Mickey Mouse on a daycare center and having all these Disney characters and making it look like it's some offical Disney daycare.

And I'm sure they'd argue that Aladdin was a thousand years old when they used it, Cinderella well over 200 years old when they did their version... so if the time they wait before using this stuff is some equal footing rule everyone should be subjected to...
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bwcbwc
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 20, 2018 6:38 pm Reply with quote
I suspect most companies don't bother to go through the tougher requirements and lesser benefit of a design patent, but a design patent can be used to protect non-functional portions of a product design. For example, specific elements of the case shape on iPhones were under a design patent (not sure if they still are). I would think that any clothing design would be eligible for a design patent, if the designer bothered to go through the paperwork.
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leafy sea dragon



Joined: 27 Oct 2009
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 20, 2018 10:26 pm Reply with quote
Mr. sickVisionz wrote:
I don't know how, in a vacuum, wearing a costume at a convention would be copyright infringement. Selling photos or getting paid to do impersonations while in the costume, as if you're some officially sanctioned person is a different story.

Especially when a lot of this is homemade and even more of it is bought off of a store shelf or dealer room table and sold/advertised as costumes to wear.


A lot of it is image protection. Notice that the most vicious, aggressive pursuers of copyright violations--Disney, Nintendo, Studio Ghibli, the Charles M. Schulz estate--tend to be producers of media aimed at all ages or at children and have a more innocent feel to their stuff than their competitors (even if Peanuts did not begin that way and was never meant to be that way). They're the ones most afraid of other people creating family-unfriendly material--not because it'll change how they appear, but because they're afraid some parents and such will stop buying their stuff because of mere association with creators of family-unfriendly material.

In other words, their consumers are also part of their image. (I think it's similar to how, at a retail job I once worked at, we were not allowed to call the police for anything short of a violent crime that's occurred inside the store. The idea is that corporate didn't want their consumers to see police presence around the store. They believed that the shoppers would be scared seeing police in the area, under the idea that wherever there's police, there must also be crime. We were located next to a bank that was robbed. Turned out corporate was right: After that robbery, a number of shoppers avoided the area completely.)

There's been a change in this though, namely Hasbro's largely hands-off approach to their franchises with large fanbases with large fan-produced content (namely My Little Pony and Transformers--they'll only go after works that appear to be made for profit AND are professional-looking enough that they may be confused with official licensed product, most notably Fighting Is Magic--but they'll leave everything else alone), which they've met with great success. I've noticed even Disney relaxing their stance and turning a bind eye to a lot of fan material, undoubtedly because Hasbro has made a lot of money cultivating dedicated, loyal groups of fans.


Last edited by leafy sea dragon on Wed Jun 20, 2018 10:31 pm; edited 1 time in total
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jr240483



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PostPosted: Wed Jun 20, 2018 10:29 pm Reply with quote
Quote:
Names and catch-phrases - A lot of younger fans love parroting lines from their favorite shows, and the cute ways that some characters end Japanese sentences. This is totally okay, both live, and in some recorded or written form. Character names, show titles, episode titles, location names, and other such things are also not technically copyrighted, though you have to be careful not to also copy the character itself or part of the story.


afraid that is inaccurate. i mean if that REALLY was the case, then the whole BS involving detective conan should never had happened!
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WingKing



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PostPosted: Thu Jun 21, 2018 12:25 am Reply with quote
jr240483 wrote:
Quote:
Names and catch-phrases - A lot of younger fans love parroting lines from their favorite shows, and the cute ways that some characters end Japanese sentences. This is totally okay, both live, and in some recorded or written form. Character names, show titles, episode titles, location names, and other such things are also not technically copyrighted, though you have to be careful not to also copy the character itself or part of the story.


afraid that is inaccurate. i mean if that REALLY was the case, then the whole BS involving detective conan should never had happened!


There's a difference between copyright and trademark. A name can't be copyrighted, but it can be trademarked. For instance, the Vegas Golden Knights NHL hockey team has been butting heads with the US Army recently, because the Army has a demonstration parachuting squad nicknamed the Golden Knights; they trademarked that name years ago and have notified the US Patent and Trademark office of their opposition to Vegas using the same name. Usually trademark disputes involve situations where the owner of the trademark believes that the other party using the same name would dilute the value of their brand and/or cause confusion with consumers. Like if I opened a restaurant and wanted to call it McDonald's because my last name was McDonald, THE McDonald's would have me in court making me rename that restaurant in two seconds flat. But if I were running a Mom & Pop shop called McDonald's Auto Repair or something like that, they're less likely to bother me since a fast food joint and a car repair shop aren't going to be confused for each other and people aren't going to boycott McDonald's hamburgers because my shop did a bad job changing their oil.
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