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NEWS: Japanese Government Considers Codifying Copyright Rules on Cosplay Income


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v1cious



Joined: 31 Dec 2002
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 25, 2021 3:09 am Reply with quote
Just when it couldn't get more absurd...
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fuuma_monou



Joined: 26 Dec 2005
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Location: Quezon City, Philippines
PostPosted: Mon Jan 25, 2021 3:22 am Reply with quote
I'm reminded of something Warren Ellis once said online: "Cosplay is fanfic for people who can sew." He was not a fan of fanfic.
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AksaraKishou



Joined: 16 May 2015
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 25, 2021 3:38 am Reply with quote
v1cious wrote:
Just when it couldn't get more absurd...


Read the actual article and come back.
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costmuffled



Joined: 28 Dec 2019
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 25, 2021 4:01 am Reply with quote
Cosplay can be construed as a type of derivative work, I suppose, with a little mental gymnastics. Once you embrace that connection, then this investigation makes some sense. In that light, cosplaying for funsies would be considered fair use, but commercial applications would require licensing.

I can't say I'm a fan of that kind of treatment, even so.
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Marzan



Joined: 29 Mar 2009
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 25, 2021 4:29 am Reply with quote
AksaraKishou wrote:
v1cious wrote:
Just when it couldn't get more absurd...


Read the actual article and come back.


I agree with you. If you’re making money of the design/character that someone else created, it’s only fair that the creator should benefit. You’re not making money? Then go crazy.
Maybe they could meet somewhere in the middle and allow professional cosplayers a threshold not to be crossed before being “taxed”
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Erufailon4



Joined: 18 Jun 2019
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Location: Finland
PostPosted: Mon Jan 25, 2021 5:43 am Reply with quote
Selling doujinshi is already technically illegal but the copyright holders choose to ignore it. The same could happen with this case.
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enurtsol



Joined: 01 May 2007
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 25, 2021 6:41 am Reply with quote
Erufailon4 wrote:

Selling doujinshi is already technically illegal but the copyright holders choose to ignore it. The same could happen with this case.


So long as they don't make too much money
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samuelp



Joined: 25 Nov 2007
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Location: San Antonio, USA
PostPosted: Mon Jan 25, 2021 6:52 am Reply with quote
Erufailon4 wrote:
Selling doujinshi is already technically illegal but the copyright holders choose to ignore it. The same could happen with this case.

This exactly.

I don't think anyone can argue that cosplay is any "more" legal than fanart... It's just fan art done in a different medium (and using your own body as part of the canvas).

Doujin has been technically copyright violation for as long as copyright law has existed in Japan, and it's existed in a sort of wink-wink-nudge-nudge equilibrium, where doujin sales are mostly limited to certain stores second-hand and conventions that self police anything too blatant. Sure, there are some circles that make a decent amount of money, but they don't stick their heads out by like, incorporating or trying to sell their stuff directly on a webpage, etc etc.

Some high profile cosplay artists on the other hand have agents and can attract large audiences...

This is going to sound like a contrary opinion here, but I actually hope that they clarify the law and maybe even make an example out of one or two of the highest profile cosplayers.
This will be _good_ in the long run for actual fan works, doujin and cosplay alike.
If they ignore this, at some point it will grow up large enough to demand some kind of serious crackdown that would actually affect everyone.
Better to setup the same gray area zone as with doujinshi, where everyone knows the boundaries: If you want to become a pro cosplayer and make serious money for appearances, you'd better get permission from the rights holders and share some of that revenue, or just go with generic sukumizu or whatever.
If the big names can handle that, then the hobbyists can be protected.
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wolf10



Joined: 23 Jan 2016
Posts: 485
PostPosted: Mon Jan 25, 2021 8:40 am Reply with quote
Enako is mentioned in the article, and she makes a lot of money. Like, close to six figures USD, as of four years ago. Who knows how much more she's making now.

Granted, she does a lot of "official" cosplay, which is nothing new for the cosplay scene, but if she's using that fame to also make bank on unlicensed appearances, that is definitely a loophole that needs some kind of a fix.

But every cosplayer I've ever known has done it for themselves and never made a dime, even from photoshoots with "pro" cosplay photographers.
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VerQuality



Joined: 01 Oct 2016
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 25, 2021 9:25 am Reply with quote
This makes me wonder what the copyright status of clothing is currently in Japan. Because in the US, at least, clothing is not copyrightable (hence fast fashion).
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SHD



Joined: 05 Apr 2015
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 25, 2021 10:26 am Reply with quote
Erufailon4 wrote:
Selling doujinshi is already technically illegal but the copyright holders choose to ignore it. The same could happen with this case.

There's this myth that doujinshi creators make huge money. They don't. Most creators of doujinshi based on existing franchises* are not in it to make money, and they generally barely break even. (Sure, there's a handful of exceptions, but this is the case most of the time.)

With cosplay, yes, most people are also not in it for money (and in fact lose money because man cosplay can be expensive), but the community is (relatively) huge and there's a number of people who do in fact make money from doing cosplay, and not small money either. There are people who in fact make their living from doing cosplay, and while some of them do "licensed" jobs for promo events, some of them don't. And if you use someone else's creations to make the kind of money pro cosplay celebrities do then yes, I think the copyright holder is within their rights to ask for a percentage. (And then there's porn - not all cosplay porn does knockoff characters.)

*Obviously self-publishing original material is different, but if you have to go the doujin way to publish your works you likely won't make a lot of money anyway.
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Greed1914



Joined: 28 Oct 2007
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 25, 2021 10:46 am Reply with quote
It looks like the concern is when it becomes a money-maker for the cosplayer, which isn't much different from how this sort of thing is handled there most of the time anyway.
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Ryujin99



Joined: 21 Jul 2010
Posts: 123
PostPosted: Mon Jan 25, 2021 12:54 pm Reply with quote
samuelp wrote:


snipping to focus on a certain part...

This is going to sound like a contrary opinion here, but I actually hope that they clarify the law and maybe even make an example out of one or two of the highest profile cosplayers.
This will be _good_ in the long run for actual fan works, doujin and cosplay alike.
If they ignore this, at some point it will grow up large enough to demand some kind of serious crackdown that would actually affect everyone.
Better to setup the same gray area zone as with doujinshi, where everyone knows the boundaries: If you want to become a pro cosplayer and make serious money for appearances, you'd better get permission from the rights holders and share some of that revenue, or just go with generic sukumizu or whatever.
If the big names can handle that, then the hobbyists can be protected.


Edit on Jan 26: To clarify, I think this could be a good thing if it's coupled with appropriate copyright reform to bring other fan works out of the legal limbo they have resided in for so long.

Contrary opinion or not, I generally agree with you on this, though I'm not really a fan of scapegoating high profile cosplayers. Still, the main drive to clarify/update the laws/rules certainly could be beneficial in the long term. spoiler[Though whether it actually is or not depends on the implementation.] I think what would be beneficial for the industry and fanwork creators as a whole (I'd specifically include doujinshi and such here as well) is a copyright structure that draws on ideas from the Unity licensing scheme.

If the income/profit from fan works is less than X (no/small income), then there's no need to pay the copyright holders at all. Personally, I would include provisions so that creators in this "licensing tier" should also be given the most leniency with their work (i.e. they can only be shut down by the government for violating non-copyright laws with their work). What would cross the line here? Hopefully pretty much nothing, but much as I hate censorship, there are some lines that are worth drawing. spoiler[For an extreme example, producing a JAV parodying Prisma Illya with minors playing the characters of interest should NOT be allowed. Yes that's already illegal under other laws, but just want to clarify that it being a "fan work" should NOT be a get out of jail free card.]

If the income/profit from fan works is greater than X, but less than Y (moderate income), then copyright holders begin to get a cut of the profits. I would further include provisions here that generally forbids copyright holders from interfering in the creative process, but perhaps allow some ability to shut down projects that they don't like... this would have to be crafted very carefully. Perhaps copyright holders could be given the option to clearly define the boundaries of what they consider acceptable, then require a third party to determine whether or not an "offending" work actually crosses the line or not. Though if they went this route, I think they'd need to include provisions to specifically penalize copyright holders for frivolous complaints. Perhaps require them to pay all associated fees if they're ruled against?

If the income/profit from fan works is greater than Y (high income), then copyright holders have the option to require some sort of formal licensing agreement that outlines what the creator is/isn't allowed to do with the copyright holder's IP. This would probably be the easiest to codify rules for, since it'd involve contracts written on a case-by-case basis.

If an idea like this was pursued, there are some other details that would have to be addressed. Are the licensing tiers based on the income from the work(s) or the profits? This would make a huge difference in who falls into which tier(s) and where to place the limits for each tier. How many licensing tiers should there be? I outlined 3, but realistically I think more would be required... though you also don't want to make so many that it becomes too complicated to manage. Are the licensing tiers based on how much someone makes from each work they produce, any works that involve a specific IP, all works they produce, or something else?

For one example: suppose a fan creator makes $200k USD in profit from their work (intentionally choosing a generally unrealistic number). Now suppose that 190k of that is original work that doesn't involve other copyrighted works, while the remaining 10k is split evenly across works involving IP from 100 different copyright holders. Should they fall into the $200k tier, the $10k tier, or the $100 tier?

For another example: suppose another fan creator also makes $200k from their work, but their income is all from crowdfunding sites like Patreon and all of their works involve IP from other copyright holders. Let's go with 100 different copyright holders, but let's assume that their distribution of works is uneven between IPs. Should they be in the $200k tier, the $2k tier, should they fall into different tiers based on how many works they produce for a given IP, or something else entirely?

Spent way too much time on this, but was interesting to hash out my initial idea and pose some questions and issues with it.


Last edited by Ryujin99 on Tue Jan 26, 2021 9:15 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Heishi



Joined: 06 Mar 2016
Posts: 1151
PostPosted: Mon Jan 25, 2021 1:18 pm Reply with quote
I’m telling ya people.
Those Japanese are super hung go when it comes to copyright issues.
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CatSword



Joined: 01 Jul 2014
Posts: 1413
PostPosted: Mon Jan 25, 2021 2:02 pm Reply with quote
As someone who, if they had to identify with a political party, it'd be the Piracy Party*, I think that cosplay falls under a unique transformation and creation simply based on the ideas of an existing work that should have no copyright restrictions on it.

*More than just piracy - reformation of copyright laws in general
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