Why I am worried, and you should be too:
SiamGX, a regular contributor to many things involving Cosplay, not to mention many a commercial anime endeavor, the host of Anime Select’s first Tokyo Reporter series, our very own あ!Pon itself, and participant in the New York episode of Cool Japan has just had just had his Youtube account Ban-hammered hard. Now taking into account that much of Youtube contains pieces of video which violate some nebulous copyright regulation in some form or another this might seem nothing but a culling of various videos for new owner Google to show the rest of the IP world that they are serious about protecting profits while at the same time allowing the gobs of web traffic to flow free enough to keep the advertising revenue at a good level.
Well fellow North American Otaku readers (and Cosplayers especially), as you continue to learn more about this incident you will surely see what a truly dangerous precedent this represents. The over 50 original video productions that SiamGX had made available on Youtube were nothing near the blatant violations of copyright that oh so many fansubs and AMVs embody. Yet only one was tagged and resulted in the complete destruction of the entire library of work. No, not Mortal Peep Fight with over 2 million views, no not any of the original creation “Dosanko-Gaijin” episodes… no my friends, what was the target of a “violation of copyright” flag from TV TOKYO themselves, was nothing more than a COSPLAY VIDEO. It contained no proprietary music, no pieces of animation what so ever, just people dressed up as “proprietary characters.”
Anyone who read the previous post on this blog from
If this sounds almost impossible to believe, then let me summarize the very important message that was delivered at the New York Anime Festival in December of 2007 (TV Tokyo has offices here in
Believe me, if there is one thing that Japanese companies are slow to do, it is figure out when something isn’t working. From the great gouging of Sony Pictures by Peter Guber and John Peters, to the travesty that was the American division of the Japanese talent agency Creek & River Inc, they take a very long time in realizing their methods are causing major problems in the very market they are trying to correct. Major problems which will hurt their bottom line and drive people out of a lifestyle that they love.
Believe me when I say cosplayers are in trouble. This dangerous precedent of successfully arguing copyright infringement over simply wearing a costume has now been set. First it will be the high-profile cosplay videos and fan generated Cosplay-content web-sites that are forced down for fear that they are somehow detracting from the content which is being sold as a home media product, and that has already begun. If this goes on unopposed, the conventions themselves that will come under pressure to control and regulate the costumes you chose to wear to their events. Pressure exhorted on conventions to deny entry to cosplayers based on their choice of costume, and to limit or even exclude all together cosplay events by the Japanese rights holders of the characters themselves, will be great enough that the impact of that pressure will most assuredly be felt.
Now to go all "Project Chanology" here, Cosplayers must see this as a CALL TO ACTION which is needed at this very moment, early on when such things can be prevented. Here is what you can do:
- Get into your Youtube Cosplay videos and add to the description “The costumes portrayed are individually unique and user made, and this event took place in public view and is therefore not subject to copyright infringement.” (who knows if that will work but it’s worth a shot).
- Contact TV Tokyo and (politely) let them know that slamming the hammer down on Cosplayers is not the way to sell more DVDs and tell them you’re concerned.
- Make your own web and video banners that read “COSPLAY IS NOT COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT!”
- Whenever you are asked where any single piece of your costume came from, simply say it’s self-made (the burden of proof lies with them, so don’t give it to them, and remember it’s only illegal to lie to police and court officers, not other private citizens).
Get out there and SPREAD THE WORD. Post on forums that this is starting to happen, write in to magazines like Otaku
Cosplay Is Not Copyright Infringement!