In the past few days, talks in the Japanese government on the subject of copyright have caused a worldwide sensation. It was discussed whether cosplay should also be officially registered by law and if so, how. It was confirmed on Friday that the regulations are now being officially reviewed.
The Minister of the Cool Japan Strategy, Shinji Inoue, confirmed on Friday that the government will investigate commercial copyright rules for the fair use of cosplay. The review is to be carried out by the end of the financial year.
Cosplay should continue to be fun
Cosplay is the elaborate dressing up as a character from anime, manga, films, games or the like. The hobby is mainly practiced at trade fairs or conventions and is becoming increasingly popular around the world.
Inoue emphasizes that they want to further promote the cosplay culture. Therefore it is important to create an environment in which people feel safe and have fun. He had spoken to the professional cosplayer Enako, who is a Cool Japan ambassador, and spoke out in favor of copyright payments for professionals.
In the last few days there had been misunderstandings because of the discussions. Many believed that with new regulations the government made the hobby generally chargeable due to copyright laws. In fact, Japan is currently not planning to revise its copyright laws, fearing that strict shelves will keep people from cosplaying.
Clear regulations also help others around the world
The only problem is that the previous regulations are not entirely clear. Wearing a cosplay is currently completely safe and not a violation of copyright. It becomes more difficult if the person pursues the hobby professionally and, for example, earns money at events with performances in costumes. In that case, dressing up could be considered a copyright infringement.
The government therefore wants to set concrete examples for such situations in order to protect the hobby from possible copyright infringements and to increase awareness of the problem. In those cases, however, the person who earns money by dressing up would also have to make payment, or at least they need permission from the authors.
Requirement for a search system
While many agree with the approach in and of itself, it has been suggested that there needs to be a system by which they can contact copyright owners and ask for permission. As things stand at present, this is a difficult matter in some cases.
Taro Yamada of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party’s research commission for the intellectual property strategy suggested setting up a database. It should then be possible for people to quickly identify and contact the copyright owner. Yamada also emphasized that clear regulations are needed to protect artists and cosplayers alike.