Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Hmmm...Is Cosplay A Derivative Work?

DISCLAIMER:  I am not an attorney so this should not be considered legal advice in any form...This is just a commentary on some interesting news articles I found.

Okay, I'm just procrastinating from doing homework, but I did find some interesting articles about copyrights and cosplay/costumes...

The first article that caught my attention was how Japan's possible entry into the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement would affect cosplay.


Pretty much it is argued that if Japan's copyright laws are changed, derivative works such as doujinshi and cosplay could be subject to prosecution.

Another article I found (though I've seen articles related to this story earlier) is about a lawsuit about Power Ranger costumes.



I don't know much about copyright law, but I would think the copyright holder, not the police, should be responsible for enforcing copyright.  What little I've learned about intellectual property so far is that patents and copyrights grant the creator or inventor a limited monopoly on exploiting it for personal financial gain.  With that in mind, it seems to me that if someone is purposely making a derivative work (fan video, cosplay, etc...) for purposes of financial gain without permission of the author of the original work, it is the responsibility of the injured party (the author) to initiate procedures to stop this unauthorized exploitation of their work (Disney and Dreamworks should go after that Iranian amusement park for unauthorized use of their characters, but a glance at the USPTO website shows that Iran doesn't have a copyright relationship with the US)...

Now I did find some articles related to costumes, and I'm still confused (probably because I'm not a lawyer).  Some articles say the design of the fabric can be copyrighted, but not clothing made from the fabric under the useful article provision.  Other articles have argued that certain design elements of a costume can be copyrighted, which can make sense for a costume of a fictional character, but what about a real person like Nicki Minaj or Michael Jackson, and if so, does that mean celebrity impersonators can get sued (I dunno if that has happened before)?

Going to school at a time when Napster was sued by Metallica made me see that I would want to protect my works from people who want to profit from them without my permission...Again, I feel it would be my responsibility to protect my works, not the cops.  I would have a better feel as to whether the unauthorized distribution or creation of a derivative of my work actually adversely impacts me...

Just some random thoughts about copyright...

At least Blink-182 is cool about people using their works for nonfinancial gain...


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