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Derivative Content and Property Rights: How Does Fanfiction Work in the Anime and Manga Industry?




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Porudogumaz



Joined: 21 Dec 2020
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 12, 2021 10:05 am Reply with quote
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"In an annual meeting between stockholders in 2010, Satoru Iwata, CEO of Nintendo, commented “On the one hand, we don't overlook the matters which could be harmful on our property rights. But on the other hand, we don't think that prohibition against all fan-made creation is the best solution. This topic is so complicated that we can't draw a fine line and make the regulation clear.”


I always wondered why Nintendo's stance on fan-creations is so much harsher for non-Japanese fans compared to in Japan. Where as overseas, Nintendo, especially recently, has become infamous for basically stomping down on any type of fan-work and fan-events, in Japan they seem to be far more lax on the matter.
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Gilles Poitras



Joined: 05 Apr 2008
Posts: 446
Location: Oakland California
PostPosted: Fri Mar 12, 2021 11:51 am Reply with quote
Question for the author.

One often hears of copyright law in the use of characters from commercial products. In the US such use actually falls under trademark law not copyright law. In the US copyright law covers the works not the characters.

In Japan is there such a distinction between copyright and trademark or are they somehow both covered under trademark law?

Thanks
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octopodpie
ANN Executive Editor


Joined: 02 May 2011
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 12, 2021 12:47 pm Reply with quote
Hi Gilles! I'll pass your question on to the author.
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Tempest
I Run this place.
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Joined: 29 Dec 2001
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 12, 2021 1:36 pm Reply with quote
Gilles Poitras wrote:
In the US copyright law covers the works not the characters.


Anyone reading this might get confused. I'm positive that Gilles is aware of the nuances here, but for others:

US Copyright law does cover characters, to a certain degree, but that coverage is pretty easy to get around. Trademarking a character is often times more effective than relying on copyright.

If someone wants a more complete understanding of how copyright law does (and does not) cover characters, this is a pretty good article: https://www.aspectlg.com/posts/copyright-in-characters-what-can-i-use
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AmpersandsUnited



Joined: 22 Mar 2012
Posts: 351
PostPosted: Fri Mar 12, 2021 7:43 pm Reply with quote
Porudogumaz wrote:
I always wondered why Nintendo's stance on fan-creations is so much harsher for non-Japanese fans compared to in Japan. Where as overseas, Nintendo, especially recently, has become infamous for basically stomping down on any type of fan-work and fan-events, in Japan they seem to be far more lax on the matter.


Most western projects are unashamed and parade themselves around in the open. They create entire websites and social media accounts dedicated to their projects to promote and hype them up all over, sometimes to the point of coming off as an official release. See: Mother 4 before it rebranded itself as an original game, or that My Little Pony fighting game that got turned into llamas after Hasbro complained. There's also a huge difference between original works and fan works that reuse assets from official sources. A doujinshi which is entirely drawn by the fan artist isn't going to get as much scrutiny as a romhack that uses all the Super Mario World sprites, music, and code to make new levels.

If people are going to promote and advertise that they're using a hacked rom for an unofficial and unaffiliated Smash Bros tournament, they shouldn't be surprised if Nintendo tells them to knock it off before they go after some guy drawing fanart at a small convention.
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Gina Szanboti



Joined: 03 Aug 2008
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 13, 2021 1:30 am Reply with quote
That Doujin Mark is really a work of art in itself! It's rare to see a logo with so much going on in it while being so simple and also quite beautiful.
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EmperorBrandon
Encyclopedia Editor


Joined: 04 Oct 2002
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 13, 2021 1:44 am Reply with quote
ErikaD.D wrote:
Although it's off topic but I wonder why people's faces on one image are censored? I always noticed whenever people are being photograped or filmed on public places in Japan, JP media and websites like SoraNews are censoring peoples faces. I remember I saw on Twitter of images or videos of public exhibitions in Japan, peoples faces are censored in it. Is everyone know why? Is photography laws are very strict and even a crime in Japan? Just curious.

There was an Answerman article on that exact subject.
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maximilianjenus



Joined: 29 Apr 2013
Posts: 2392
PostPosted: Sat Mar 13, 2021 6:36 pm Reply with quote
AmpersandsUnited wrote:
Porudogumaz wrote:
I always wondered why Nintendo's stance on fan-creations is so much harsher for non-Japanese fans compared to in Japan. Where as overseas, Nintendo, especially recently, has become infamous for basically stomping down on any type of fan-work and fan-events, in Japan they seem to be far more lax on the matter.


Most western projects are unashamed and parade themselves around in the open. They create entire websites and social media accounts dedicated to their projects to promote and hype them up all over, sometimes to the point of coming off as an official release. See: Mother 4 before it rebranded itself as an original game, or that My Little Pony fighting game that got turned into llamas after Hasbro complained. There's also a huge difference between original works and fan works that reuse assets from official sources. A doujinshi which is entirely drawn by the fan artist isn't going to get as much scrutiny as a romhack that uses all the Super Mario World sprites, music, and code to make new levels.

If people are going to promote and advertise that they're using a hacked rom for an unofficial and unaffiliated Smash Bros tournament, they shouldn't be surprised if Nintendo tells them to knock it off before they go after some guy drawing fanart at a small convention.


to abound on this, in what is the japanese equivalent of erotic steam you can find games of copyrighted properties but they make sure that those games don't use stolen resources.
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Takumi Furusato



Joined: 14 Mar 2021
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 14, 2021 7:37 pm Reply with quote
Gilles Poitras wrote:
Question for the author.

One often hears of copyright law in the use of characters from commercial products. In the US such use actually falls under trademark law not copyright law. In the US copyright law covers the works not the characters.

In Japan is there such a distinction between copyright and trademark or are they somehow both covered under trademark law?

Thanks


It is very confusing. Actually, the protected objects of Japanese copyright law are novels, Manga and so on. The point is that the “character” itself of those works are not protected by Japanese copyright law. In Popeye necktie lawsuit in 1990s, Japanese supreme court denied copyrightability of Manga characters. (https://copyright.rima21.com/popeye-tie-the-supreme-court/). Therefore, most of lawyers who are specialized in contents business legal matters recommend the clients to register their works as trademark in order to prevent unauthorized use.
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VerQuality



Joined: 01 Oct 2016
Posts: 114
PostPosted: Sun Mar 14, 2021 9:17 pm Reply with quote
Simply by looking at the number of mangaka that got their start in the doujin community, it's clear how vital this "copyright oversight" is to Japan's creative output. I've seen it in anime, Touhou, and now vtubers, but inviting fans to go beyond merely being consumers of a product, but an active participant in spreading their love of a creative work is incredibly powerful. At the risk of being overly dramatic, I believe cutting off doujin culture would kill anime and manga as we know it, or at least drastically cripple its output. Fortunately it sounds like the rights holders generally recognize that, and there's a lot of sensible solutions being brought forward. I especially like Nitroplus's approach that limits quantity and sales, but gives relative carte blanche otherwise - it's a neat solution that allows most doujin activities to continue while giving them clear justification to intervene when a doujin work crosses the line and starts threatening their ability to profit off their own original work.
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Gilles Poitras



Joined: 05 Apr 2008
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Location: Oakland California
PostPosted: Mon Mar 15, 2021 9:03 am Reply with quote
Takumi Furusato. Thank you very much for your reply. This is most informative.
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I_Drive_DSM



Joined: 11 Feb 2008
Posts: 197
PostPosted: Mon Mar 15, 2021 11:12 am Reply with quote
I have noticed that one form of doujin works that has near completely disappeared is actual fan-made anime released at conventions. This used to be a thing back in the '90s and digitized examples of it still float the dark corners of anime download sites. Anime is also much easier to create nowadays, considering there is a plethora of digital methods to utilize and as most of those doujin creations would have been animated with cels. It seems like more animated doujin material should be floating the web than it currently does. If I could nail a point when a lot of that sort of content started disappearing is when Konami came down hard on the doujin group that put out the Tokimeki Memorial fan-made anime because of the adult content it had back in '98-'99. After that it seemed like most animated doujin shorts disappeared near overnight.

I feel that Japan would have a very difficult time cracking down on doujin content should they seriously try to. Not only would it disrupt an entire industry but many businesses themselves function based off the re-selling of doujin. There's very much a market for this content outside of conventions that would be at risk of disappearing very quickly.

On the near end of the article with the cosplay topic, I will say it does get confusing in that one company can come down hard on people using characters but others seem more free. When I was in Japan in 2019 I stopped in to look at the Key anniversary kiosk in Akihabara. In addition to the anniversary goods Key was selling they were also selling cosplay merch that you were unable to buy online including outfits from Clannad and such.
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