Anime: is cosplay legislation really possible?

In recent days, the will, expressed by the Japanese government, to impose legislation on the activity of cosplay relating to anime and manga characters. Specifically, the government would be considering theintroduction of a code which would allow the copyright holders to go and regulate the cosplaying activity, and the earnings that individual cosplayers manage to accrue from it. This is a very topical issue in the land of the Rising Sun, especially in light of the immense growth experienced by the sector in recent years, and the great popularity that some cosplayers have gained thanks to social media.

In fact, currently cosplayers can obtain income from their work with anime and manga, through methods such as subscriptions oi membership services, or with apparitions ad events The selling their costumes. The question therefore is whether manga and anime authors see their copyrights affected by this type of activity.

The deputy of the House of Councilors (the Upper House of the Japanese Parliament) Taro Yamada, who issued some statements to Abema News, also revealing some of the difficulties that lie behind the proposal, also explaining what are the copyright laws currently in force in Japan:

“There are many people who have heard this news and may be concerned that it has negative implications for cosplay and the jobs that depend on it. For what it’s worth, me […] i will do what i can to protect fan culture, so you can sleep soundly.

First of all, people generally don’t understand this, but whether or not a business has a commercial character doesn’t matter to copyright. Copyright is simply the affirmation of what we call personality rights. On the other hand, the problem with derivative works is how the creator can earn money in the age of mass reproduction on the internet. There are aspects of today’s legislation that are a step behind the digital age.

If you made the Kame Rider masks as they appear in the series and sold them, that would be illegal, but a personal cosplay would not in itself be charged with copyright infringement. If it were something like Tanjiro’s clothing plot in Demon Slayer, there would be no copyright. But, if you take something like the sword or the belt, and make them look exactly like a photo of one of the author’s works, then there is a chance you could be charged with copyright infringement. This is what makes writing the law so difficult.

Yamada also answered the popular cosplayer’s question Haru Tachibana, who asked him about the difference between selling a photo book and simply posting an image on social media, explaining that this is a gray area of ​​legislation:

“If your cosplay contained items that are known to be copyrighted and you post the photos on Twitter without first obtaining permission from the intellectual property owner, there would be a chance that you would be notified of a public broadcast right violation. Likewise, even if you did obtain permission to post the images, the act of retweeting them or disseminating them in other ways could be seen as a similar violation. At the same time, if your face or any other easily recognizable part of you were widespread, like it or not, there would be the possibility of a violation of rights for the use of your image.

It’s a very complex subject, but it’s not just a problem of cosplayers’ copyright infringements, but also a problem of what happens in the event of improper distribution. And most importantly, if the owner says it’s okay to use his works, but later decides he wants a payment for them, what happens? There is a dialogue between the parties on the need to develop rules for this aspect as well. “

The attention paid by the Japanese government to the issue confirms the strong awareness that cosplay has become an important part of cultural heritage Japanese. But for the moment, the government is facing opposition from both copyright holders and cosplayers:

“In the current Japanese legal system, copyright infringement is one of those types of crime that requires a formal complaint from the victim to be prosecuted, so it could be said that Japan is quite permissive by global standards. But since we don’t have legislation for things like online streaming, there are loopholes and gray areas. I believe that was what Minister Inoue was talking about. Our current legal system is based on the fact that creative property rights exist as natural rights, even without writing every aspect of them. However, Japan is a party to the Berne Convention, established in the 1800s, so the fact is, unless the other nations party to the treaty give their assent, this nation cannot be the only one to change.

Given these circumstances, it becomes a matter for our nation to ensure that the work of creatives is circulated appropriately, and this also includes derivative works. Generally speaking, creators are happier to see their work circulate rather than not, and we wish they had some return. If we asked everyone to give their individual consent, this would lead to wondering who is the right person to talk to, and if we grouped all the permissions into one system, it would start the debate on how to distinguish the differences, as in the case of the Japanese Society. for Rights of Authors, Composers and Publishers (JASRAC). This is also a complex issue “

Does this mean that anime and manga cosplay are going to be forgotten? For the moment it is unlikely. The Japanese government itself seems to wish only a codification of the question. But then the problem of copyright is not new in the manga and anime world: recently Shueisha was the focus of a little scandal for some notifications of copyright infringement that came to fans due to some posts containing images of his franchises, which are revealed the result of reports of an element extraneous to the company.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.