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26 Feb 2012 - 15:1479722
Cosplay and Copyright
Okay, so I've been reading around the forums and there are some threads that mention copyright but don't really go into that much detail.

I know that cosplay as a hobby isn't affected by copyright becsuse there is no profit involved.

However! I notice that there are alot of 'cosplay shops' and commission shops listed on this website alone. I want to start doing commissions but I do not want to get sued for copyright to a character.

For example I come across alot of shops selling things like 'harry potter robes' for example, do they have to ask permission from the creator to be able to sell it for profit?

Also, would copyright just be for a full costume looking like a character, or does it also cover parts of a costume, for example if I wanted to sell a distinctive weapon/prop like a key blade from Kingdom Hearts or maybe even for something like a wig styled like a character,, could Disney sue me?

I've heard of people getting into trouble before with copyright and costumes, does this technically mean that all the peoples shops listed on this website could be sued ? o.0


Thank you for taking the time to read, and I hope anyone can help to clear this up for me as I really don't want to get into trouble.


Silantre



Last edited by Silantre (26 Feb 2012 - 15:19)
26 Feb 2012 - 17:3879737
Quote Silantre:
Okay, so I've been reading around the forums and there are some threads that mention copyright but don't really go into that much detail.

I know that cosplay as a hobby isn't affected by copyright becsuse there is no profit involved.

However! I notice that there are alot of 'cosplay shops' and commission shops listed on this website alone. I want to start doing commissions but I do not want to get sued for copyright to a character.

For example I come across alot of shops selling things like 'harry potter robes' for example, do they have to ask permission from the creator to be able to sell it for profit?

Also, would copyright just be for a full costume looking like a character, or does it also cover parts of a costume, for example if I wanted to sell a distinctive weapon/prop like a key blade from Kingdom Hearts or maybe even for something like a wig styled like a character,, could Disney sue me?

I've heard of people getting into trouble before with copyright and costumes, does this technically mean that all the peoples shops listed on this website could be sued ? o.0


Thank you for taking the time to read, and I hope anyone can help to clear this up for me as I really don't want to get into trouble.


Silantre


Now this is a sort of gray area in terms of what you can and can not do.
In some way, you are technically stealing their character design but it is also seen as a form of art. And art is encouraged, afterall.
You can be sued if you create a costume or prop and claim it as completely your own "design", when it comes from a character in a movie/book/anime/game etc created by someone else.

People consider it as a form of fanart, and not an attempt at copyright infringement. If you are selling a costume, you are charging for the price of materials used and the amount of time and labour put into its creation. Rather than selling the actual character itself. Some companies at these Expo's and conventions even -pay- models and look alikes to dress as characters and provide them with costumes and props to do such.

I do not think they need to ask permission to re-create fanart, but the company is well within their right to sue if they wished.

Cosplay is hardly something that hits the radar with these companies, though. As long as you are not actually claiming to "own" the character, I think it is perfectly fine for you to create commissions safely. Although, I suppose you -can- be sued if you copied someone elses idea without giving credit or brought a costume and claimed you made it yourself. A company -do- have the power and rights to sue you to protect their ideas if they -want- to, but most companies are very lax about it. - They choose to see the benefits of it.

I believe quite a few companies actually enjoy the idea of fans cosplaying their franchise because in a way it promotes their products. To them, you are advertising for free. The only ones you need to watch out for are Disney, as they just -love- to find the slightest little loophole to sue you with, I have noticed. (They even tried to sue pre-schools in America for having fan made pictures of disney characters on the classroom walls!).

If you choose to showcase your commissions, I advise you to keep away from Youtube. They just love to stick the "copyright infringement" sticker on things.
It is safe for you to sell commissions providing you do not claim to own the character or any of the designs.
It also depends on the country.
You will find that Japanese companies support the idea of cosplayers as opposed to the stingy American and European businesses who want to suck you dry of all profit.

All in all, you are just making profit from the time, labour and materials you spent on creating the fanart, rather than selling the actual character.

I am sure many on here have better explanations and more in depth knowledge but, this is just my view on the matter.



Last edited by iBleeder (26 Feb 2012 - 17:39)
26 Feb 2012 - 21:0879751
Yeah, cosplays are quite low on the radar when it comes to copyright infringement. Personally, I wouldn't see it as an issue because you are charging people for materials and time, not for the character and you're not claiming it to be the "official" version of the costume.


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Ayacon Plans
27 Feb 2012 - 18:3179824
I know some commissioners name their costumes/props different names from the official product. For example there's an American store that sells Harry Potter replicas but calls their Gryffindor robes "House of Lion" robes and instead of "Harry Potter's wand" it's called "Searing Scar" etc. They're obviously replicas from Harry Potter but naming it something else means they don't get in trouble with copyright.

Cosplayers in general don't have to worry about it too much though. However I do know some who will put a comment like "I do not own this character it is owned by Square Enix" or something like that underneath their photos if they are worried about it.


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27 Feb 2012 - 19:5779828
The way I view doing commissions is that I jsut recreate whatever someone shows me a picture of - I don't always know what it is, and I'm the first to admit that the design isn't mine.
I've seen costumes and fanart being sold at conventions and whatnot, so I can't see that it's too much of a minefield ^_^


27 Feb 2012 - 20:0779829
It's a legal grey area and any companies that wanted to sue cosplayers would probably be seen as shooting themselves in foot from the fan backlash.

Of course companies have the right to defend their products against infringement for example SCG Power Ranger LLC recently settled a lawsuit over the website MyPartyShirt.com selling unlicensed Power Rangers costumes on their site. Though in that case they were openly calling the products "Power Rangers costumes" and selling them alongside licensed Power Rangers costumes so I could see why they filed a suit there customers could easily be confused. Also the costumes were awful but that had little to do with it.

All this being said, Kazuhiko Hachiya a media artist voiced concerns recently about the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) having an effect on cosplay if Japan joins as it would effectively allow police to arrest cosplayers on the streets of Japan for copyright infringement based on their own discretion for if a cosplay is copyright infringement and even if the copyright holders haven't even lodged a complaint. Now I don't know how realistic a worry that is and Japan hasn't joined the TTP yet (there is also a concern that the TTP could stop people importing anime and other titles from Japan and elsewhere if said title isn't licensed in their country, which is crazy if you ask me). Now I don't want to get too chewed, but it's stuff like this that makes me wary of stuff like the TPP, and ACTA.


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