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Questions about possible copyright issues

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Questions about possible copyright issues

Postby Kaylith » Wed May 30, 2012 11:28 am

Hello!

I was considering having an art table for Animazement 2013, but had some questions.

I know that fan art is a very big seller in the artist alley, but I was never sure how that works. Is it okay to sell fan art? Or are there copyright laws?

Thanks!
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Re: Questions about possible copyright issues

Postby SailorAstera » Wed May 30, 2012 1:24 pm

I believe Animazement's official policy is to encourage original work but I don't think there's a strict limit on fanart. This page says "We strongly encourage all work to be at least 50% original" but it's not clear if that's 50% of the visual space (like Otakon) or 50% of your inventory (one fanart item for every one original item). I also didn't see this rule being enforced at the convention (though maybe it was and I just didn't notice).

My experience in this area has basically been that as long as you are doing characters in your own style with your own sort of take on them and not just reproducing the original art style or trying to look like official art then it seems to be alright. Most conventions ban the use of copyrighted logos on merchandise becuase logos and such are usually trademarked (which is slightly different than copyright). There are a few conventions that have strict policies on how many pieces of fanart you can sell (example: no more than 10 of any one print, or no more than 200 fanart pieces in total can be sold) or how much of your display can be fanart-related (re: Otakon's 50-50 display rule is based on a visual balance of fanart and original art and even this is still kinda fuzzy for me). So basically you just have to jump through whatever hoops are in place at whichever convention you want to attend.

My personal take is that these rules are arbitrary and pointless. You either think selling fanart is okay as derivative works or you think it's outright illegal. I think if conventions are concerned about the legality of fanart then they should ban fanart altogether (as some have). It doesn't make any sense to me for there to be this wishywashy gray area of allowing SOME fanart but restricting it in random, different ways. Fanart has a weird place in the anime/manga culture because of the doujin history in Japan and the way fanart has been tolerated by many creators and companies. However, there are companies and creators who are putting their foot down and saying no to the selling of fanart of their characters. If you are a fan of a series where the creator has asked people not to sell fanart then it's probably good on you to respect their wishes.

The problem is, people go to the art alley at conventions looking for art of characters they know and love. They are looking for a new take on the characters, or a pairing that you don't see in canon, or some sexy smut of Tuxedo Mask in a speedo ( >_< ). So if you take the fanart out of the art alley, you are removing a big part of why people go. I guess the question is, would people buy original work if that's all that was available in the art alley? I guess it's possible!

This is actually something I think about a lot. ^.^'
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Re: Questions about possible copyright issues

Postby Kaylith » Wed May 30, 2012 4:32 pm

I agree, it would be nice to have rules that are more clear and consistent.

And, to be honest, I would rather do original artwork. I just didn't think it would really sell because, as you said, people mainly go to the artists alley to buy fan art.

Maybe I should take that as a challenge though! To try and create original artwork that will catch people's attention!

Thank you for your reply! It was really thoughtful and informative!
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Re: Questions about possible copyright issues

Postby SailorAstera » Wed May 30, 2012 4:35 pm

No problem! When I first started doing art alley I was determined to do it my way and sell only originals and stand on my own two feet as an artist. I'm not sure if I'm happy or sad to say that lasted about one convention before I started making prints and keychains and that kind of thing. I wrote a long DA journal entry about it a while back (if you're interested). I'm still conflicted about it. :\
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Re: Questions about possible copyright issues

Postby Kaylith » Wed May 30, 2012 5:07 pm

Thanks! It was a good read, and I followed you on dA! Here's my dA account: http://kaylith.deviantart.com/

I've been playing around with some ideas for comics, so I was hoping that I could build them up enough to have things related to sell by the time I can get an art table.

It does seem to help to have fan art prints too though.

You're right though, that this subject is very messy and it's hard to find a right answer!
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Re: Questions about possible copyright issues

Postby SailorAstera » Wed May 30, 2012 7:40 pm

yeah, I'll be interested to see if anyone else chimes in. :3
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Re: Questions about possible copyright issues

Postby Kaylith » Wed May 30, 2012 9:12 pm

Me too! I mean, I...don't really have much to add since I pretty much agree with everything you've said. Haha! XD
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Re: Questions about possible copyright issues

Postby Shenanagan » Thu May 31, 2012 8:38 am

I say go for it if you decide to go 100% original. I have had to go back and forth between original and fanart, because as one would expect, fanart sells better. But, I've seen people come up with some original ideas and run with them in such a way that they are very successful doing mostly original stuff! (ex. plushies, Tasty Peach Studios, jewelery, etc). I mostly think original does best when the idea is really good and catches on. Best of luck!
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Re: Questions about possible copyright issues

Postby BobGuy » Tue Jun 05, 2012 12:45 pm

My two cents as a AA staff member: we encourage original art, as we like to see more of it. We don't make a point of ban-hammering fan artists. And yeah, we are sort of ambiguous on it all, because we don't see that it's a black and white situation. If you art is 100% Naruto and it is very similar to the original manga/anime style of Naruto, you probably won't make it past the jury stage. As far as we know, you copied it, or came very close to copying. If you're drawing Naruto fan art, but in your own style and using your own creative ideas, then props for you.

Again, it's mostly a grey area, each artist's situation is different.

Logo's are also banned, as stated, as that is directly copying something.


My two cents as an artist who has sold for 9 years: original art can sell just as well as fan art. I know this from experience and from talking with artists over the years. Iris Chen was a great example. Her work was probably 98% original, and she out-sold most of us. Now, it is highly dependent on your style, your creativity, etc etc. This is not to say that if Iris had drawn a bunch of One Piece work, that it wouldn't have sold even better. Just that she didn't need to.

So, Kaylith, if you would rather do original work, then go for it! It's worth a shot, and sells are nice, but drawing what you want to counts for a lot (you'll probably be happier)
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