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This May Be Stupid

#1 User is offline   Axel08 

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Posted 19 May 2010 - 05:36 PM

Lets say for example that i wanted to sell plushies based off characters from the kingdom hearts series, i created these plushies myself, but what im asking is can i sell them under "fair use" or do i need copyright permission, also i have looked at the law of fair use and im still confused

An answer would be nice :thumbup:

#2 User is offline   rondo 

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Posted 19 May 2010 - 07:51 PM

View PostAxel08, on May 19 2010, 07:36 PM, said:

need copyright permission


That pretty much says it in the quote, especially since you said you were gonna sell them.

#3 User is offline   frzndaqiri 

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Posted 19 May 2010 - 08:19 PM

I can say with certainty that Disney protects it's copyright fully, and any of their items shoould be avoided. This is said as someone who has dealt professionally with their lawyers.
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#4 User is offline   KurolokiRoku 

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Posted 19 May 2010 - 10:13 PM

Isn't all fanart technically illegal, then? I would think that like the rest of everyone's fan works, something like that would pass under the radar...if it weren't Disney.

I make mostly original works so I guess I wouldn't know...?
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#5 User is offline   Manifested Dreams 

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Posted 19 May 2010 - 11:23 PM

View PostViz_K Prince, on May 20 2010, 12:13 AM, said:

Isn't all fanart technically illegal, then? I would think that like the rest of everyone's fan works, something like that would pass under the radar...if it weren't Disney.

I make mostly original works so I guess I wouldn't know...?


Fanart has always been a gray area. Some pieces can pass as a parody so they are technically legal, provided that it is clear that the majority of the piece is original with only a small percentage from the inspiration.

But yeah, pretty much all fanart is technically illegal, but it is entirely dependent on the company that owns the rights. Some companies(like Disney) are rabid about protecting their work and will pursue those that violate their ownership. Others view it less as an infringement and more as free advertisement, so they let it be.

It's all about knowing how far you can go with which medias and realizing that ultimately, you have zero rights in regard to it. Original work is *always* better. It's unfortunate that a high percentage of people want the fanart over originals, Lord knows I prefer the originals.

#6 User is offline   fotaku07 

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Posted 19 May 2010 - 11:37 PM

Hmm.. as frzndaqiri said Disney is sticklers for their character licenses. I noticed that all too well at Comiket in Tokyo. There was fanart/doujinshi of almost every cartoon... except for anything to do with Disney.

Here's a link to Disney's site describing what it takes to license a character to be on goods you sell <link>

#7 User is offline   Christy 

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Posted 20 May 2010 - 10:23 AM

Going back to previous posts I've made regarding this subject:

International copyright law specifically prohibits anybody but the copyright holder from reproducing and selling deritivitive works not owned by the copyright owner. So from a technical aspect, this would NOT be allowed. However, when it comes to fan works, most industries tolerate fan works because a) it's general not worth the funds to prosicute a bunch of fan artists who don't really have money to pay for any imagined lost roalities and b ) it's worth more in free advertising and goodwill towards your fan base to allow fan art. *Note: This info and largely how it's worded came to me via an intellectual copyright lawyer that I know through my day job, so that's about as correct as you're gonna get.

That being said, the following should be kept in mind:

1) It's not really ethical to mass produce large quanties of fan work for the puproses of selling for high profits. Fanwork is and should be an expression of fandom. Selling fanwork to make it available to others and pay for your fandom/art/whatever habit or to take the itch off the college fund is one thing but one shouldn't seek to become a professional fan artist and pull in $50,000 a year exclusively doing fan work. That takes fanart beyond expression and interaction and into bootlegging and profiting off somebody else's work.

2) We are talking about Disney here and they tend to be very draconian with their intellectual property rights so they may press their rights and issue a cease and desist order and actually take the time and money to stamp out fan work.

If you do go forward with this idea, do so with caution. Keep it small, do not duplicate any existing merchandise and be aware that Disney can and may ask you to stop and if you do, you must be prepared to do so or face a lawsuit.

Frankly I personally feel that selling fanwork of Disney is probably more trouble then it's worth.

Edit for a quick explination on Fair Use: Fair Use is included in copyright law to protect the freedom of speech. It allows use of a creative work for the purposes of: Review (such as a book reviewer using quotes from a book they are commenting on or posting a peice of artwork for commentary), Parody (best example: South Park) or Educational Purposes (a panelist using a lemoney exerpt from a peice of fiction to illustrate a point about bad love scenes.) Fanwork does not qualify as any of these.

This post has been edited by Christy: 20 May 2010 - 11:16 AM


#8 User is offline   frzndaqiri 

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Posted 20 May 2010 - 02:05 PM

Very well put, Christy.
2013 will be my 11th year at ACen! Staff for '09/'10/'11/'12/'13
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Get a button or upgrade it to a keychain/zipper pull/magnet/bottle opener/mirror for just a quarter more.
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#9 User is offline   Stkbayfield 

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Posted 20 May 2010 - 02:34 PM

I would agree on that.

Though it does make me wonder, those cardboard cut outs of characters being sold in the artist alley are obviously fan-art being sold by artists, but where does the line between art and merchandise really get crossed. I imagine there's no problem with selling drawings on paper, and there were no issues with the cardboard figures, so would plushies be pushing it into merchandise territory?

That's just food for thought, though. Not serious discussion.

As for the OP, perhaps you should look into making a website of some kinds to showcase your work and perhaps trade through PayPal? I know that there's a very popular Sonic plushie artist who makes licensed character plushies and has been operating for years without a C&D from Sega. Not to mention all of the fan-plushies you see on UFOcatcher.com

#10 User is offline   Christy 

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Posted 20 May 2010 - 05:51 PM

That is indeed excellent food for thought. Where I would draw the line would be this:

Art = Creative Expression
Merchandise = Making Profit

Now, as the person who runs an AA business panel, I would be betraying myself if I didn't say that artists have a right to earn money from their work. They most certainly do. But the moment that commercialism overtakes creativity and expression, then it becomes merchandise. Regardless of the medium. And that goes for original art as well as fan art. (Look what happened to Disney when they let the merchandising department dictate to the creative department.)

Fan artists have a special duty to the artists they are drawing inspiration from to treat the original with respect. The best expressions of fandom are in the alley amongst the fan artists because those individuals are interacting directly with their favorite series/band/what have you by expressing their fandom through the creation of something unique and special. When the artist loses sight of that, they have moved from the realm of creative expression to making profit.

General guidelines I would give to a fan artist would be:

1) While you don't want to under price your work, don't over price it either and do not mass produce for long term sales (In other words, don't print a thousand $20 posters and try to sell them all in a year.)
2) Create a unique piece. Don't freehand copy or trace images and NEVER EVER duplicate existing merchandise.
3) Give credit to the original creator in your copyright notice on the image or story if you can.
4) Always put your best effort into whatever you create!

#11 User is offline   Stkbayfield 

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Posted 20 May 2010 - 06:04 PM

Christy. I must say that is the best reply I have read, especially the dig to Disney. It makes total sense, is entirely fair and shows that what is really at the heart of the alley is art. Even if the OP doesn't get much out of your replies, I've certainly sat up and have taken due notice. My wife has been pondering getting an AA table in the future, and if it's okay with you, I'll reference you as a good source of info if she ever decides to.

Thanks for giving such a detailed responce to my devil's advocate question :)

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