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Otakon Artist Alley is doing something new

edited January 2006 in Conventions
Otakon just announced in their forum that they are disallowing the sell of " unlicensed copyrighted materials". Which means you can't sell fanart of utena if you don't have permission. This is kinda neat in that i can get into selling original stuff.


  • yea, of course I like the fanart people have and the werid book marks and other pieces of art that are really well done of old fav characters.. this sucks!
  • Wow... That's going to practically kill a whole swath of the alley, not to mention my main reason for buying anything.

    Now, I love looking at people's art, but I rarely if ever commission things. Most of what I tend to buy are cute/funny fanarts or things that just aren't available in the dealer's room.

    I can't imagine Otakon wants to do this. I'll ask around, but I would bet money dealers or companies complained about the competition from AA and are forcing their hand. Bastards.
  • RymRym
    edited January 2006
    Wow again... On further reading, this is a very heavy-handed policy.

    No fanart. Period. The head of the AA says that they're not banning "fanart," but goes on to say that they're only disallowing "the sale of copyrighted material to which the seller is a.) Not the creator, and/or b.) Does not have license to sell that material."

    The policy itself:

    " Otakon's Artists Alley will be actively disallowing the sale of unlicensed copyrighted materials. If you own it, you can sell it. If you have license to it, you can sell it. But if it has material (images, sounds, etc.), in whole or in part, to which you DO NOT have permission to sell, then that material will not be allowed in the Artists Alley. Anyone found in violation of this rule loses their retail space in Artists Alley for the remainder of the convention. (The above statement will be officially/legally worded and posted on the site during February, after our lawyer and Otakorp President have approved it.)

    5b. Policy for the DISPLAY of unlicensed copyrighted material - provided it is NOT FOR SALE - is currently under review. "

    I realized just now that this is going to destroy the art auction/show. I can't think of more than a few original pieces that appeared in it last year: it was almost entirely things that will be banned under this new policy.

    Advice from the head of the AA:
    "My advice? Unless you KNOW your use of unlicensed copyrighted characters in a work is clearly in the bounds of parody, don't bring it. Use your own characters, designs and imagination to create original works of art. "

    Sigh... I'm expecting a fairly barren AA this year...
    Post edited by Rym on
  • Well, it seems like it's true. I guess AA is going to be totally nerfed. Teh suck.
  • well its not too bad. It'll give people who have original comics/art a chance to get their art work out there.

    Though yeah I do agree that artist alley would be barren this year.
  • I thought selling fanart was legal; what gives? What's with the policy?
  • Technically, it isn't. You're creating a work based on a copyrighted character for profit. It just so happens that in more civilized countries, such things are overlooked or even encouraged. ^_~
  • I think the problem is that you are profiting from the designs of another artist.

    Sometimes what I've seen is people directly copying a professional image and selling it as their own, which pisses me off.
  • how is it encouraged rym?
  • Japan seems to turn a gaping blind eye to unlicensed doujin.
  • that's only because they are only charging for the production cost.
  • and that's not really encouraging it.
  • Well, I'm not an expert on Japanese copyright laws ;^)

    I suppose my broad point is that Otakon is definitely going about this the wrong way. A heavy-handed approach will only serve to anger people and weaken the AA. They need to have some finesse.

    For example, maybe they should go after only people who duplicate an existing commercial work and try to sell it, but ignore original pieces that are merely based upon or use characters from another property.

    Art is like any other media: it cannot be realistically controlled or restricted, and trying to do so artificially will not serve any useful purpose in the long run.

    Of course, I'm also of the mind that the mere idea of intellectual property is asinine and outmoded, but that's another argument ;^) Regardless of one's feelings regarding copyright law, it can't be denied that his move by Otakon is going to seriously weaken the AA experience.
  • Japan does more than turn a blind eye to doujin. Many publishers and artists will officially endorse doujins that they think are awesome. Also, the really really good doujin creators are often picked up by publishers and turned into legitimate studios. i.e: CLAMP. If they really wanted to go after doujin they could do it very easily, and they don't. Every year they have the world's largest comic convention, Comiket, and it is jam packed with doujinshi. The fact that not once have they done anything to stop these artists is a little bit more than just turning a blind eye.
  • Yeah, this'll probably suck. On the bright side, fair use says parody and such are still okay...but how many artists are going to not try because of the risk?

    I've never noticed a lack of original work at the AA, either. Of course, I can't say how well it sells or doesn't (never having been on that side of a table). But I don't think reducing the amount of fanstuff that can be bought will actually increase the sales of others by a noticeable degree.
  • I knew I was going to get creamed for my last few statements.

    Alex, yeah I agree with what you said. I was being hopeful for US doujin-artist.

    Scott, I see what you mean about encouragement. Though I think that over in Japan its ok because its understood that you are not supposed to profit from it. I remember reading that somewhere in "Dreamland Japan". Though I think once you start earning money from someone else's designs without permission you start to get flack.

    For example, when Weiss Kruz used the character designs from a doujin artist without her permission, they got sued by the doujin artist for not paying her for her designs. Thus Gluhen.
  • "For example, maybe they should go after only people who duplicate an existing commercial work and try to sell it, but ignore original pieces that are merely based upon or use characters from another property."

    Do you know how ambiguous and hard it would be to enforce that?
  • It would be easy. Passively enforce instead of actively. If there's a complaint, show up and check it out. The complainer would have to produce evidence that the piece in question exists in an official format.

    Regardless of the rationale, however, this decision is going to have serious remifications. The thread about it in the Otakon forums had to be locked almost immediately. Anime News Network's forums exploded just as fast.
    Little protest sites are springing up. People are trying to organize AA boycotts. The staff need to be prepared for the fact that any change of this magnitude is going to generate large amounts of anger, rumour, speculation, and fan reaction.

    Otakon seems to be backpedelling a little now. ANN picked up on the story, and Otakon tried to claim that it was untrue and that the policy was still tenative. (Considering that this was all posted under a thread called "Official Changes for Artists Alley - 2006," that's a little shady).

    We'll have to wait and see what they do. I'll be attending no matter what, as I love all the other aspects of the con just as much as AA, but I can't say that I'm very excited about an AA where I won't see any fan-art.

    One of the manga editors for Dark Horse had this to say:

    "I have always received a positive impression of Otakon in the past, and it is my hope that the report of a ban on fan art at the 2006 event is untrue. It is difficult to imagine any single gesture a convention could make that would be more antithetical to the spirit of anime and manga fans. "
  • Also...

    I was going through the pile of art and such that I've bought from AA over the years. Of the several dozen pieces I have, not a single one would be allowed under the new policy. I've never purchased a work from a convention that meets Otakon's requirements for exhibition or sale.
  • edited January 2006
    ah i see.

    To be honest, for the few least years I've been selling fan art.

    And secretly I wanted to still be able to sell it again this year.
    Post edited by Ametto on
  • I posted in the Otakon forum with the same information I posted here. About comiket and how Japan doesn't care. They didn't like that, and they threatened to delete any posts that say the same thing. Then they started talking about how copyright law in the US and Japan is different. They're right. Japan's copyright law is worse than the US. Except of course for our evil DMCA which does not apply to this issue.

    I say if they want to keep this policy, fine. Then you have to eliminate all cosplay and AMVs too. Better to not be hypocritical.
  • So... Otakon locked the thread regarding this again. The following is a post I was about to make:

    The real problem I see is with artists who will decide not to come after reading the policy. Even if Otakon states that enforcing this strictly is not a top priority (as per Rachel Ann's post pegging it after 11 other concerns), I forsee many artists with pieces that would likely be overlooked who would be unwilling to risk the possibility that their art would not be allowed.

    If a rule exists, regardless of the possible laxer interpretations and/or enforcement of that rule, it will drive many people away.

    The current wording effectively bans the bulk of what I've seen in the alley and art show in the past. It's my feeling that, if the rule will be worded so, then it should be enforced as such. If it's not going to be enforced completely as written, then it perhaps should be re-written.
    RachelAnn wrote:
    So while I will OFFICIALLY say we enforce copyright/trademark laws - remember, I HAVE to say that - perhaps this list will give you an idea of where we will be more clearly focused and what we consider to be of lesser priority.

    It's dangerous to have a policy in place while at the same time following a set of unwritten rules regarding said policy.

    The primary point of contention seems to be the word "actively." "Otakon's Artists Alley will be actively disallowing the sale of unlicensed copyrighted materials."

    Traditionally in legal cases involving intellectual property claims, it is the responsibility of the copyright holder to directly make a complaint. A third-party can choose to enforce these rules, but is not obligated to unless provoked (eg, a C&D or formal complaint) or in certain special circumstances. By using the word "actively," Otakon is taking on a responsibility that, in my opinion, is better left to the individual copyright holders themselves.

    Saying that "parody" is all right will not, in my opinion, help matters. The legal definition of parody as an IP concept is to this day ill-defined and highly-contended. Without Otakon creating a clear policy regarding EXACTLY what constitutes parody, it's too ephemeral a concept to be uniformly enforced.

    Also, (though I note that this is my personal opinion and should not be construed to be legal advice), using the word "actively" opens Otakon itself up to litigation from copyright holders. By stating that you will enforce copyright in this way, it has been argued in many courts that you can then be held responsible for any failure to act. By instead merely stating that you will "immediately address the concerns of any primary copyright holder regarding our Artist's Alley," you remove this exposure to litigation, retain the high-ground regarding "in good faith" statutes, and make these changes far less damaging to the future of the alley.
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