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Is Fan Art Illegal??

Share your views on the state of the Animation Industry.

Is Fan Art Illegal??

Postby SNAKEBITE » Wed Jul 02, 2014 6:18 pm

I trip on this on multiple levels.

What is fan art? I think coz play is more fan art then anything but in this video the lawyer says its not a big deal...but artists doing their version of said IP characters and worlds are a problem...well, unless they are hired to do so.

But then again, I see artists raising funds for projects they are calling fan art...or fan made...even though these artists are working pros they are on kickstarter and the like raising funds to do their fan version of a something they don't own... thats kinda weird.

I for one don't think comic con sketches is the problem...but according to copyright that is a problem..and you want copyright to protect you right? Where is common law in all this? Does it apply or if you're not registered does that mean you're screwed... lots of stuff to consider.

check this video from a lawyer at deviant art...which kinda cracks me up considering deviant arts shady policies as of late...hmmmmm...

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Re: Is Fan Art Illegal??

Postby SNAKEBITE » Wed Jul 02, 2014 6:19 pm

"If you’ve ever been to an Artist’s Alley at a comic convention, the thought, “Can this be legal?” has surely jumped into your head.

Easily half the artists exhibiting at any mainstream Comic Con or Anime Show make and sell fan art. And by “fan art” I mean merchandise featuring characters the artist does not own: prints, buttons, tee shirts, key chains, hats, tote bags—I even saw Captain American mittens at the last show I attended.

And if you count the amount of artists who offer one-of-a-kind, original commission sketches of copyrighted characters, the percentage shoots way higher.

Surely Marvel owns the right to Captain America, we think, even if that sweet girl sitting at the booth was the one to knit the mittens.

But the question is: Does Marvel really care?

When it comes to fan art: What is legal, and what is not?

There is a lot of myth that clouds the truth of fan art in regards to what you can and cannot be sued for.

Perhaps you’ve heard some of the following myths:

One-of-a-kind, original drawings and paintings are legal.
Since everyone does it, copyright holders must not care.
If I only sell fan art at conventions, and not online or in stores, it is okay.
If I’m not making a profit from my fan art, it is legal to draw someone else’s characters.

Some Anime Shows have begun limiting the amount of fan art you can bring: either only a certain percentage of the kinds of items you sell can be fan art (i.e. only 30% of your prints can feature copyrighted characters) or, they’ve limited the amount of an item featuring fan art that you can sell (i.e. you can only bring 10 copies of any print featuring copyrighted characters.)

One show I exhibited at had such a strict “No Fan Art” policy that convention staff members actually policed the alley throughout the show. I was scolded for having a (not for sale) image of Harley Quinn on my commission sign as an example!

Fan art and copyright infringement might seem complicated, but really it isn’t:

Do you own the character in question?

Yes? Do what you please!
No? You have no legal right to profit from work featuring characters without permission from copyright holder.
No? You have almost no rights to create such works not for a profit, either.

This video is a real world, straight-shootin’ explanation of copyright law given at San Diego Comic Con earlier this year. Josh Wattles is the advisor in chief to deviantART and is a funny lawyer (imagine that) who describes the nature of fandom candidly—both its benefits to the copyright holder and the problems.

If you currently (or plan to) sell fan art at a show, online, or as one-of-a-kind original commissions, you must watch this video.

If you currently (or plan to) make fan art without intent to sell, just for the love of the fandom, you must watch this video.

And then, proceed with caution.

I know people personally who have been told to stop selling items by one of the “Big Two.” I even have personal experience in the matter in regards to treading too close to the line—in a parody that didn’t even use trademarked characters.

So watch this video and be informed. “I didn’t know it wasn’t legal” does not stand up in court."
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Re: Is Fan Art Illegal??

Postby SNAKEBITE » Wed Jul 02, 2014 6:19 pm

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Re: Is Fan Art Illegal??

Postby Charles » Tue Jul 08, 2014 12:49 am

That was a very informative video. Learned a lot and what I previously knew about copyrights and trademarks was enhanced.

According to what this fellow explains most of what is fan art is indeed not legal as far as copyright protection and IP issues are concerned. Copyright ownership is a virtual monopoly on the property in question. In regards to fan art companies love it. Things get serious when money is involved such as sales from unauthorized use of a copyrighted property or a trademark. In that regard the guys you're referring to who are cashing in on fan based crowdfunding campaigns for properties they do not own, well it looks as if they're exposed to legal action as this is clearly against the law. Whether or not it happens remains to be seen but the law is not on their side. They're at risk.

If given a choice I would rather create original properties and build a fan base of my own. Fan art has become a way for artists to hitch a ride on a pre-sold concept. Like executives who look for something that's proven itself in the market. Artists who cash in on the pre-sold concept are piggy-backing on a piggy that does not belong to them.

Fan art for love doesn't translate into fan art commerce without the copyright owner's permission.
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Re: Is Fan Art Illegal??

Postby SNAKEBITE » Tue Jul 08, 2014 2:13 pm

Well the ones that I know that are doing it already have questionable ethics. If they can do the s*** that I know that have already done, then their potential for additional fraud is quite consistent.
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Re: Is Fan Art Illegal??

Postby Charles » Tue Jul 08, 2014 4:10 pm

Check this out...

I did a search for "Star Trek" on Kickstarter. Take a look at how many fan based projects there are and how many have been successfully funded and at what levels...

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/se ... =star+trek
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Re: Is Fan Art Illegal??

Postby SNAKEBITE » Wed Jul 09, 2014 12:26 am

Thats a great example. Now I know George Lucas has pretty much nurtured the fan made productions of Star Wars..but I wonder if using crowdfunding as a way to raise money instead of using your own money to produce fan based content changes the parameters...keep in mind, most of these "fans" are really professionals in disguise. The line is mos definitely blurred.
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Re: Is Fan Art Illegal??

Postby Charles » Fri Jul 11, 2014 2:07 am

Some brands / properties are aggressively defending and some are not it seems. For the most part I get the feeling that there's enough gray area for fans to cash in on fan produced content,

A couple years ago I was attending a He-Man convention. When I got to the front desk to register there was someone who bought a piece of fan art. Nicely done too. I was surprised to see that the subject was an original character I designed while working on the series. Couldn't believe my eyes. I thought this was very cool and gave me a good feeling about my contribution to the success of the show that one of my characters would be honored this way and after all the time that passed between that moment and when the series aired.
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Re: Is Fan Art Illegal??

Postby SNAKEBITE » Fri Jul 11, 2014 12:51 pm

It was pretty much understood that sketches from artists at conventions was something the big companies didn't care about cuz sketches wasn't their market and it gave artists another way to make some dough... but now people are raising significant funds to do their version of someone elses property... I hope that doesn't happen to my creations.
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