Is the Future of Collecting in Danger?

Was sitting in a car today listening to talk radio.  Normally I’m not one to listen to people complain about their lives, but the story was pretty interesting, and could potentially effect collectors and fans in general of anime.

The story starts out with college students importing their text books from India, who is allowed to print American text books for their use at a fraction of the cost.  These books, while cheaply made, are also usually only 10% of the price of the same thing, American printed.  $75 is much easier to handle as a student, than the retail price of almost $300 a physics book could cost ordered from a college book store.

Enter someone who decided to use this system to pay his way through college.  Importing a number of college text books from India, and then turning around and selling them on eBay in the US for profit.  He walked away with enough money to pay entirely for college, and have a substantial nest egg for when he was done.  However, the text books publisher in the US wasn’t going to take some random student making that much money off of their books, and sued him for six hundred thousand bucks…and won.  The court ruling was held up in appeals court, with a ruling stating that the reselling of foreign copyrighted products is illegal.  Are you seeing where the problem with this now?  The case is now up for ruling in the Supreme Court, and depending on what happens with this case, we could see internet auction sites like eBay closing its virtual doors.

Now I know you’re asking yourself, “Self, what does this have to do with me and my hobby?”  Well, to answer that, how many of you have bought or sold anime related items on eBay before?  That could become illegal.  Need some extra cash so you’re going to sell your collection of anime cels?  That could become illegal.  Commissioned a cosplay outfit from an overseas market and it no longer fits so you want to sell it?  That could become illegal.

Now obviously it could be very bad for any number of things since the good old US of A doesn’t fully manufacture many of the goods sold here.  It could be the end of yard sales as we know it, and forget trying to sell your old tech to upgrade to new.  However I’m not going into that direction, I’m just looking directly at how this may change things on a small scale and still be relevant.

Many of you probably go to anime conventions, and those that do probably go into the dealer’s room.  A vast majority of the merchandise has been bought wholesale from a company for resale.  Now, due to the wording of this ruling, this act could be seen as illegal.  Granted it’s a popular business practice and more than likely won’t be effected, but unless stated in the ruling that this practice would still be legal, we could see a significant decrease in dealer sizes.  Companies that make their own t-shirts for sale at conventions, if those t-shirts are not made in the USA, you’re reselling an international copyright.

Let’s go back to what I was talking about before.  While many of you probably don’t sell as much as you buy online, who would you buy those rare collectors only items from?  I know I’ve purchased many items off of eBay, Amazon and the like, of items that just aren’t made anymore and someone that happened to have it was selling off their collection.  Wallscrolls or figures that someone imported, or purchased while living in Japan, only to need some quick cash and having to part with them, I think most of us have purchased at least something like this, or repurchased something like this.

This all seems to work well with so many gaming companies wanting a piece of the used game market and forcing extra charges for online or multiplayer play when the game is bought used.  However in a Europe court, a ruling was just announced that made it perfectly legal to resell digital games, no matter what the titles EULA actually says.  Not that there is currently a way to actually do this, but should someone figure it out, reselling digital games would be perfectly legal.

Right now we just have to wait and see what happens.  If the Supreme Court rules in favor of this, it has one more chance to be shot down in the House.  While the collector’s hobby aspect is small compared to some of the larger problems this could lead to, there are many people that make a living reselling merchandise from overseas, many that you may be familiar with, and some that you might actually be friends with.  Here’s to hoping that I’m over reacting and everything will continue to be right in the world.





Mako-chan isn’t just a writer and co-host… She’s also the resident baker and chef of all things yummy. Mako-chan has been working behind the scenes helping out where she can for the Podcast. Officially joining the team in November of 2011, first as a writer and editor, and later as an on air personality for the show, and now Assistant Editor, Mako-chan embraces the five main sureties in life that make a person great; Beauty, Intelligence, Talent, Creativity, and Honesty. ^_~

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