By W.T. Bane
Recently amongst my normal nerd news sites that I peruse, I have seen many articles dealing with the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement and its proposed effects on the nerd community. This has gone from mild speculation to rampant conspiracy theories.
UPDATE 1/25/2015: FOR INFORMATION ON THE CURRENT ISSUES OF COSPLAY FACING THE SUPREME COURT HIT THE LINK BELOW. FOR THE TPP SCANDAL, HIT THE JUMP.
If you would like to read more on what the TPP is in general, click this link for one of the best explanations of it. The section that is troubling to the nerd world concentrates on intellectual property, particularly “Any derivative work, like fan art, cosplay or doujin manga, can fall under a criminal offensive even if the original rights owner doesn’t file a complaint. (goboiano.com)”
People are freaking out that they are afraid they they won’t be allowed to cosplay or make fan art due to this. There are sites throwing their arms up in a frenzy in fear of all the possible outcomes. They say it will be illegal to cosplay. It will be illegal to make fan art. It’s going to ruin conventions.
Most likely it won’t. Let’s get real for a second. Cosplay is now too big to enforce against. Look at anyone of the largest conventions in the U.S. with New York Comic Con, San Diego Comic Con International, Salt Lake Comic-Con, and Dragoncon; all of them reach close to or breaking 100,000 attendees, with a very large portion of them in attendance in cosplay. How on Earth is that supposed to be enforced that that many people in costume are violating the law at one time? They will not have the police and lawyers at the front gates writing tickets for everyone.
Also most companies will probably be willing to allow fans to have permission to cosplay as their characters simply because it is free advertising. There are so many anime shows that I had never heard of until I approached someone at a convention and asked what were they from, simply because their costume was amazing and I wanted to see more of what it came from. While Marvel/DC don’t need the free advertising, smaller companies or more obscure shows/comics do.
Who this most likely will affect in the cosplay world is the “professional cosplayers.” These are the ones with special cosplay Facebook or Twitter pages who try to sell merchandise like posters or prints of themselves dressed as characters they have no legal rights or permission to.
What’s the difference?
When I cosplay as Bane, I walk around and take lots of pictures with people and pose with other fans dressed as Batman or Joker or other Gotham mainstays and we all have a good time. I don’t make any money off of cosplaying Bane, and therefore I’m not taking any money away from DC by doing so.
However if a female cosplayer was to dress as Catwoman, and charge $10 a print for an 8”x10” of her as Catwoman, she is essentially making money off of DC. That’s where the line will likely be drawn, someone making money off of posing as a character they don’t own, or has yet obtained a license or permission to perform.
It may be impossible to stop 50,000 people from cosplaying, but stopping 10 cosplayers who are trying to sell prints of themselves at a booth is much more likely to be targeted and much more easily enforced. They will be the most likely target.
The bigger name cosplayers who have hundreds of thousands to millions of followers like Nicole Marie Jean, Leanna Vamp and Jessica Nigri will likely be able to obtain a license from the property holders for their more popular character cosplays, but those with less reach may find themselves in more of pickle.
The other areas this will affect is fan art. Again this likely will apply in a manner similar to above. No one will likely care if you draw a Pikachu and hang it on your fridge, but if you draw a Pikachu and a Ewok battling it out to the death and try to sell it at a convention, you may find yourself at the mercy of the new TPP agreement. Same applies to those who 3D print weapons from films or games and sell them online for a profit without license.
For some of the freakouts of this proposed agreement see links below.
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