Japanese Government Supports Making Overseas Copyright Cosplay Rules

Is there a copyright fee for dressing as your favorite anime or video game character? The government is looking into making rules for overseas cosplayers to prevent copyright problems. If it gets support, a copyright law may be helpful in clearing up copyright ambiguities. It may be part of the Cool Japan strategy to sell Japanese culture overseas. 

Japanese anime has many overseas fans and cosplay events have increased. If the cosplay is for non-profit and non-commercial purposes, it won’t violate the copyright law. However, if someone is posting photos on membership sites or getting paid to do events, there is a possibility of breaking this copyright law.

So, what does this mean for the Japanese and overseas cosplay community? Is this a good thing or a bad thing? There is a lot to unpack here, but I must first point out that nothing is official yet. As of now, these are just ideas and only that. 

Image may contain: 1 person, smiling
Photo taken at Comiket January 2019 in Japan

If this new law passes, this means that anyone who makes money from cosplaying can possibly be fined if they didn’t get permission from the company that the anime/game originated. So I assume if someone is part of a site where they sell pictures of themselves dressed as anime characters, then they are breaking this rule. Of course, American companies like Funimation and even Japanese companies who set up booths at anime conventions can get past this with no issues as they hire cosplayers to work their booths for certain events and can easily obtain these permissions. 

Up until now, this doesn’t sound very fair, but thinking on the other side of the coin, this also protects cosplayers from being sued by companies. There have been similar issues with copyrights in the past such as artists who sell their prints on sites like etsy and even at anime convention artist alleys. That decision ended up being that the logo was the main issue. For cosplay, it’s a bit more complicated. 

My personal opinion here is that if people need permission to make money off of cosplay, will obtaining that permission be a long process? Speaking as a cosplayer myself (who doesn’t make money off of it, but knows several people who do), who loves joining in on new series, how long will it take to get permission? There’s always a rush to see who can cosplay a character from the newest anime or game nowadays. If something comes out and it takes months to get those permissions, it makes it harder on the cosplay community. If there is a system where you can fill things out and submit them and it takes a day or so, then that is more reasonable. Unfortunately, I don’t think there will be a turn around time that fast though. Anime companies and game companies have enough to be worrying about. Between deadlines and the current Covid crisis, I am surprised that this is even being brought up. 

This will not even make a huge wave in the lives of most cosplayers. These will be mostly aimed at professional cosplayers and those who have a large social media following. I understand why it is an issue (since someone is making money off of someone else’s work), but at the same time, it is how some people make a living. Because I have been in the anime and cosplay community for many years now, I have seen how many people currently make cosplaying, art, etc… their primary source of income. I also understand that anime companies in Japan are upset that people are making so much money off of their ideas and character designs and they don’t see any of that coming back to them. Without the anime/game companies, there would be a lot fewer cosplayers in the world. If there was a way for everyone to be happy, that would be ideal, but I can’t see that happening.

Original article source: Livedoor.com

Rose Rappaport

I have been an anime fan for over 20 years, I have my BA in Japanese language and culture and I cosplay.

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