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LiL Moon

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Certain fanart now banned in the artist alley?
« on: February 24, 2012, 09:54:00 PM »

I just got an email from the artist alley staff saying that I can sell my original items, but unfortunately, no fanart items.  :'( I'm a craft/plush seller so of course I understand why my work comes into question, but I feel like I'm being banned from completely selling fanart. Under the artist alley agreement, there is a small section that allows for fanart:

"b.Fan art clearly showing the artist’s work being produced and not intended to replicate the original style or the official likeness of a work held by the license holder"

To me, this answer seems pretty vague. For example, I sell plushies of characters. I like to make the plushies look as much like the characters as possible so could my eye for detail mean that my plushies look so much like the real characters that they are not to be sold? However, the plushies are made from my own pattern and my own choice of fabrics. In my eyes, making plushies of characters "is" my own original style of fanart. I am not copying existing licensed plushies in any way, shape, or form. I am also making plushies of some characters that don't even have any plush versions even being sold.

I know that there are a few artists like me who have gotten accepted without evening knowing about this policy and I worry how the staff will view their work once it arrives. I already sent a reply to the staff about these questions so now I am patiently waiting for an answer. Have any of you artists out there also received this email? I've been selling my plushies at Fanime for a few years now and I really hope I can still bring some fanart related ones again this year.
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nainu

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Re: Certain fanart now banned in the artist alley?
« Reply #1 on: February 25, 2012, 12:56:12 AM »

A friend of mine who got accepted also received a similar email asking her not to sell the plushie she was making of a character. Im also wondering what the deal is with this as I was planning on selling Plushies as an addition to all my other items, and had already gotten started making them and purchasing materials....  
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LiL Moon

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Re: Certain fanart now banned in the artist alley?
« Reply #2 on: February 25, 2012, 01:01:47 AM »

A friend of mine who got accepted also received a similar email asking her not to sell the plushie she was making of a character. Im also wondering what the deal is with this as I was planning on selling Plushies and had already gotten started making them and purchasing materials.... 
There seems to be a little inconsistency in the review process. A friend of mine, who is selling the exact same character plushies as me, got accepted instantly with no one telling her that she could not sell those plushies. But I was told I couldn't? I really hope we can sell fanart plushies. I know there are several of us out there who want to get started making stock. But I can't until I know what is ok to sell.  ???
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nainu

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Re: Certain fanart now banned in the artist alley?
« Reply #3 on: February 25, 2012, 01:08:12 AM »

A friend of mine who got accepted also received a similar email asking her not to sell the plushie she was making of a character. Im also wondering what the deal is with this as I was planning on selling Plushies and had already gotten started making them and purchasing materials.... 
There seems to be a little inconsistency in the review process. A friend of mine, who is selling the exact same character plushies as me, got accepted instantly with no one telling her that she could not sell those plushies. But I was told I couldn't? I really hope we can sell fanart plushies. I know there are several of us out there who want to get started making stock. But I can't until I know what is ok to sell.  ???

Really??  Thats really odd... I hope the issue gets cleared up soon since I had read through the rules it didnt specify anything about fanart plushies being not okay to sell...  I took that in mind when deciding what the make and had already started >_>
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LiL Moon

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Re: Certain fanart now banned in the artist alley?
« Reply #4 on: February 25, 2012, 01:18:42 AM »

Really??  Thats really odd... I hope the issue gets cleared up soon since I had read through the rules it didnt specify anything about fanart plushies being not okay to sell...  I took that in mind when deciding what the make and had already started >_>

Yeah, there's no concrete rule about plushies in the agreement. Maybe they want us to make the plushies more abstract? ^^;; I really don't know.
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ewu

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Re: Certain fanart now banned in the artist alley?
« Reply #5 on: February 25, 2012, 11:25:59 AM »

Essentially, we are looking for original art. If your work is based off of an established character, it enters a grey zone that we need to make a judgment call on. We will attempt to be as fair as possible, but the best thing for artists to do is err on the safe side. In the end, we are looking for items that will sell for their originality and do not piggyback on the success and work of another artist, professional or not.
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LiL Moon

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Re: Certain fanart now banned in the artist alley?
« Reply #6 on: February 25, 2012, 04:54:50 PM »

Essentially, we are looking for original art. If your work is based off of an established character, it enters a grey zone that we need to make a judgment call on. We will attempt to be as fair as possible, but the best thing for artists to do is err on the safe side. In the end, we are looking for items that will sell for their originality and do not piggyback on the success and work of another artist, professional or not.
If it's mainly original work that is allowed in the artist alley, then maybe there should be no fanart allowed at all or maybe a limited number allowed. It's really that grey area fanart rule that allows it that's confusing me. I know it was made mainly with print artists in mind because their unique style makes it ok for them to sell prints of characters, but for craft artists, it becomes more of a challenge. I just wish some overall rule could be established because many of us of are being told mix messages. I'll be sad if I go to Fanime with all originals and I see the person sitting next to me selling plushies that I was told I couldn't bring.  :'(
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ChibiLi

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Re: Certain fanart now banned in the artist alley?
« Reply #7 on: February 25, 2012, 08:36:12 PM »

Essentially, we are looking for original art. If your work is based off of an established character, it enters a grey zone that we need to make a judgment call on. We will attempt to be as fair as possible, but the best thing for artists to do is err on the safe side. In the end, we are looking for items that will sell for their originality and do not piggyback on the success and work of another artist, professional or not.

 ??? Curious question. If the reason for your policy based on the grey area of making merchandise based on copyrighted characters, is this policy also in effect for your Dealer's Hall/Room?
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ewu

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Re: Certain fanart now banned in the artist alley?
« Reply #8 on: February 25, 2012, 11:35:07 PM »

??? Curious question. If the reason for your policy based on the grey area of making merchandise based on copyrighted characters, is this policy also in effect for your Dealer's Hall/Room?

No, all the merchandise in the dealer room is licensed, and so there is no need for such a restriction.
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Armored-Heart

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Re: Certain fanart now banned in the artist alley?
« Reply #9 on: February 25, 2012, 11:47:44 PM »

Essentially, we are looking for original art. If your work is based off of an established character, it enters a grey zone that we need to make a judgment call on. We will attempt to be as fair as possible, but the best thing for artists to do is err on the safe side. In the end, we are looking for items that will sell for their originality and do not piggyback on the success and work of another artist, professional or not.

So, I'm not currently an Artist Alley artist, but I hope to be in future years, so I have a couple of questions/comments on the matter.

I feel that the AA artists are generally ones to present wonderful pieces and showcase a variety of drawing styles instead of simply copying the original already, so is this a sort of "quality control" tactic or a way of avoiding copyright infringement? Or simply a way to aid artists who want to promote their original stuff? Just curious. I'm interested in knowing the reasoning behind this sort of decision.

What constitutes that gray zone? That seems extremely vague and with room for potential loophole. I feel that it should be all or nothing, because as it's already been mentioned, that could be pretty unfair for some fanart to be deemed okay to sell and others not. For example, wouldn't this potentially mean Shark Robot wouldn't be able to sell most of their stuff, or would it be okay because their designs are "parodies?"

And lastly, I wonder how this will affect our artists, since they do make quite a bit of income in AA selling fanart prints. While I'm perfectly fond of the idea of seeing more original work in AA, and I agree with the intent- heck, I'm already planning some original projects to try and sell in future years- I've noticed that fanart is also where quite a few artists have gotten people interested in their work, who then usually become interested in their original work as well. Heck, CLAMP got their start as a doujin group if I recall correctly.

Personally, I feel there's going to be a lot of confusion from this as well that should be sorted out asap. ^^; I hope my post was clear and logical, since it's getting late and I'd best be off to bed soon, haha.
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chibimonster

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Re: Certain fanart now banned in the artist alley?
« Reply #10 on: February 26, 2012, 09:42:32 AM »

I've heard that many conventions (mostly on the east coast) have very strict restrictions on the amount of fanart that artists are allowed to sell. This forces the artists at these cons to have some original work for sale. The primary goal of this is to prevent copyright infringement, even though, with fanart, there is no copyright infringement going on unless someone traces something. From what I've read, it seems that any fanart, as long as it is not a tracing of anyone else's work and does not contain any official logos, is considered a parody, and is therefore OK to sell.
However, those in charge tend to make sure that each artist who draws fanart has their own original style instead of drawing exactly like Masashi Kishimoto, for example. While it's easy to show that you have your own style when you draw fanart, it becomes harder to show this when you have plushies. If someone's plushies look exacltly like the character or if they look too much like official licensed plushies (assuming there are any), it may be getting too close to copyright issues for the admins.

I just hope that fanime doesn't put quantity restrictions on fanart. While I enjoy drawing original art, I prefer selling fanart; it's cool when someone likes my interpretation of a popular character. I believe that fanart is just at creative as original art.
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LadyUni

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Re: Certain fanart now banned in the artist alley?
« Reply #11 on: February 28, 2012, 12:03:15 PM »

I wasn't personally planning on selling "fanart crafts" ...but I just can't wrap my head around HOW on God's green earth a craft is any different from 2D fanart other than the dimension of it. It's still original work by an artist who is not claiming any ownership of the character/franchise/etc.

I know Disney is one of those scary companies that'll attack anything and everything selling its copyrighted ideas, but anime's pretty lax. And I whole heartedly agree with the encouragement of making profit from original work. But this is an anime convention where people come to celebrate the art of Japanese animation in a variety of ways. AA fanart included.

If you're aiming to be "fair," I would reconsider this issue in light of what's being discussed here.
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Hachimitsu-ink

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Looking back at what was missing
« Reply #12 on: February 28, 2012, 01:00:46 PM »

okay...
Does anyone remmeber the pocky stix plushies and the wiimote plushies?
they were really cool and sold old really fast.... but I never seen the next year that came out

Does anyone remmeber the Yaoi paddle sticks?
I guess something has happened involve with the glomp and hugging Bans

These are the only 2 i recall back in..2007?2008? i forgot which year.

Anything with hand crafted fan art wouldn't be allowed, in fact, I just saw one artist alley left because pepakura was not even allowed to sell! (that or was missing a few days later).

{really am starting to miss the gold old create something nice days v_v, thats all}


now heres something that is sorta a grey zone:::
http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_87FWjfCC0iY/TSpYeo1MFFI/AAAAAAAAMTc/-fXSwaDmHb0/s400/Video+Game+Perler+Beads.jpg

Is this the next thing fanime will considered?
(its hand made and retains its original likeliness!)
{{{{{not to sound mean or anything but..should'nt this topic be moved to Serious business???}}}}}}}
« Last Edit: February 28, 2012, 01:22:51 PM by Hachimitsu-ink »
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princeofrose

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Re: Certain fanart now banned in the artist alley?
« Reply #13 on: February 28, 2012, 03:54:52 PM »

I agree with Chibi monster.

I hope fanime doesn't make limitations on fanart. I love seeing artists interpretations of characters and also it is the main thing that sells at fanime. The things people come up with are really amazing.

The only fanart I think should be banned if an artist TRACED a picture. Other than that I think it is fine because every persons art is different along with the interpretation of the characters.
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MPLe

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Re: Certain fanart now banned in the artist alley?
« Reply #14 on: February 28, 2012, 04:16:53 PM »

{{{{{not to sound mean or anything but..should'nt this topic be moved to Serious business???}}}}}}}
This conversation topic started out FanimeCon related. If it moves beyond that, we can split the topic off into Serious Business. :)

I agree with Chibi monster.

I hope fanime doesn't make limitations on fanart. I love seeing artists interpretations of characters and also it is the main thing that sells at fanime. The things people come up with are really amazing.

The only fanart I think should be banned if an artist TRACED a picture. Other than that I think it is fine because every persons art is different along with the interpretation of the characters.
To point out the other side, the Artist Alley is always a tough beast to regulate (which includes the rules of AA). At some point, you have to look at the rules and see if the majority of the artists are just selling their fan art of copyrighted/licensed characters. More and more conventions are starting to look and adopt a 50/50 rule where 50% of the things you're selling has to be original works, which we can go back and forth on if this rule makes sense.

With the popularity of sharing pictures online, people can trace fanart too. It's unfortunate that it happens, but the it does happen. AA is definitely one of the tougher departments to look at and ensure that the rules in place are the most fair since there are these horrible gray areas. :(
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cutekick

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Re: Certain fanart now banned in the artist alley?
« Reply #15 on: February 28, 2012, 04:42:37 PM »

I did not want to join in this topic but I feel there is a major lack of understand of US copyright (and trademark) laws and as an artist that was also told I was not allowed to sell some of my goods I feel I have to join in. I am going to go over the basics of copyright law as best I can and to the best of my understanding. I am not a lawyer so do not take my word for this. I have done my own research on this topic but that does not mean my understand of it is absolutely correct. Please, do your own research on US laws and correct me if I am wrong. I am going to use the Legend of Zelda and Nintendo for my examples since most people are familiar with it. And I apologize, this is going to be long.

Copyright law allows the original creator of a work to make copies of their work, distribute their work (selling it, giving it away), display their work, and making derivative works. Now this "derivative works" part is where thing get a bit complex.

Nintendo owns the copyright to the Legend of Zelda, this allows them to make more games based on it. This also allows them to make movies, music, plays, poster, t-shirts, jewelery, ect., based on the Legend of Zelda because they own the rights to it. This also means they are the only ones allows to make games, movies, music, plays, posters, t-shirt, jewelry, ect based on it.  Under this if you, an random person that is not Nintendo, make a fanart piece for the Legend of Zelda you cannot display it or distribute it in any way. This means you are not allowed to display it (post it online, print it out and tape it to a public wall) or distribute it (sell it, give it away).

So yes, according to copyright law all fanart is illegal if you display or distribute it. Unless you are granted permission from the copyright owners to create, display, and distribute such a work. But there are two loopholes that allow for fanart to be displayed and sold as it is in Artist Alley, parody and fair use. Both of these are in the gray area and if you were to be sued you would have to prove that your work fell under at least one of them.

Parody is when you make fun of something. If you drew Link in a way that made fun of him or the Legend of Zelda games it could be protected by parody. If Nintendo took you to court over this it could come down to if the judge thought it was funny or not. If you drew Link and used him to make fun of something else, that was not Legend of Zelda related, this would not be protected under parody. Parody protects you making fun of the same thing, not using it to make fun of something else.

Fair use is a far more complex. Fair use has four guidelines:
(Copied from US code 107 link: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/17/107)

(1) the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;
(2) the nature of the copyrighted work;
(3) the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and
(4) the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.

If we take #1 verbatim fanart is still illegal when you sell it. But more and more it is being interpenetrated as if it was created solely for profit or to provide stimulation of creativity and enrichment of the community. This is because in today's society nothing is free and everyone wants to make a little money off of all of their hard work. So, for #1 fanart should pass as long as it is original fanart.

#2 does not really apply to fanart in the anime/games community since we are dealing mostly with visual media and this has more to do with other types of work. Please read up on it if you are curious.

#3 Is more about using an copyrighted work exactly in another piece. If you took a picture of Link from the cover of the game and then added him to a much larger piece of work would that be allowed? This really depends on what you made and how much of it was original. This really should not apply here because we are dealing with original works with copyrighted characters. Again, please read up on it if you are curious.

#4 This is the other big one, especially for craftsers like me. If you draw Link in your own style how does that drawing effect the market value of the all of the Nintendo made Legend of Zelda merchandise? For prints, not much, because it is your own style which Nintendo is not replicating.

Now, for craftsers, if you make a Link costume how does that effect the market value of the all of the Nintendo made Legend of Zelda merchandise? Again, not a lot because to my knowledge Nintendo does not offer a Link costume for you to purchase.

But if I make a Link plushie how does that effect the market value of the all of the Nintendo made Legend of Zelda merchandise? This one is harder to answer because Nintendo does offer Link plushies. Now your plush might be in a completely different style, for example you make him into an onigiri, you are probably okay. But if you made a plushie similar to the ones Nintendo offers this gets a bit harder to say you have little to no effect on the market value because you are directly competing with them. In general that is what you want to avoid.
Also, parody is still protected here, if I make a Link plushie that would directly compete with the Nintendo made ones but it was making fun of Link or the Legend of Zelda games I would still be fine even though it could/would effect the market value of the other Zelda merchandise.

 @Hachimitsu-ink About those Perler bead creations, if the creator of those is distributing them they are no better then someone who traces art work and they are breaking copyright law. They are creating exact replicas of copyrighted images that belong to Nintendo and Capcom. This is a clear violation of copyright law because there is no originality involved in this, there is no style change, no parody, nothing. If they had taken Link from Wind Waker and turned him into a 16-bit pixel art and turned that into a Perler bead creation this would have been fine to sell. This is because they are creating something that Nintendo did not. Also, I know at least east coast conventions banned the Yaoi/Yuri paddles because of con goers being harassed by other over zealous con goers. People would get a smack in the bottom and such, this caused some major problems and the best solution was to ban the paddles. This would not have happened if people would not have hit other people, especially strangers. I know other conventions have had to start looking at banning the high-fiving across opposite direction escalators due to similar problems.

Also, as an east coaster that moved west and I am now attending west coast conventions I can tell you these cons are much more open then the large east coast conventions. Otakon full-out banned all fanart one year, it did not go over well and was removed but harsh restrictions were put in place instead. They have since banned almost all crafts that are not original and you cannot put your fanart on buttons at all. Artist at Otakon are also only allowed 10 prints of each fanart piece and at least half of their artwork must be original. They also require artist mark which pieces are fanart and which are original so that they can check that you are following the rules. All this extra policing has led to a need for more staff members and in turn higher table prices. (I found Fanime's $75 fee to be cheap.) So please, do not blame Fanime staff, they are doing their best and trying to protect us, the artists, as well as themselves.

So, general rules to follow with fanart because I know: tl;dr
1. Use your own style or apply another style (Wind Waker styled Naruto characters)
2. Create something new (do not redraw/recreate official works)
3. Do not directly compete with any official merchandise even if you are creating/recreating it yourself

And everyone please, please, go read up on US copyright law yourself if you are selling in any AA, it is extremely important to know what your rights are and what you can and cannot do.
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chibimonster

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Re: Certain fanart now banned in the artist alley?
« Reply #16 on: February 28, 2012, 07:31:50 PM »

I found a great article on Etsy about fanart and fair use: http://www.etsy.com/blog/en/2010/fan-art-and-fair-use-one-truth-and-five-myths/

For those who don't feel like reading the whole thing, it says that fanart that is sold may be protected by the fair use law, but art is judged on a case-by-case basis, and it acknowledges that it is one big legal mess.

We could literally debate and hypothesize for pages, and the issue wouldn't get much clearer. (After all, we're dealing with art, which is inherently subjective).

On another note, it seems silly to me that cons try to limit fanart when, realistically, legal issues are very unlikely to ensue. After all, most fans come to conventions for fanart, not original art. Therefore, it seems strange to force the artists to sell things that the attendees are most likely not interested in. Additionally, most manga artists appreciate and encourage the creation of fanart such as doujinshi back in Japan, so I don't see why things should be any different in America. Finally, fanart prints (it is a slightly different story with crafts) do not really interfere with the official prints. This is because most official prints use the exact same as the anime, while artists have a different style, and official prints are usually either wall scrolls or posters, while fanart is usually 11x17 or smaller.
And the button rule at Otakon seems even more ridiculous. What was the reasoning behind that one? (Actually, what is the reasoning behind all of Otakon's fanart rules?)

Edit: Out of curiosity, I read Otakon's artist alley rules for this year, and it seems that buttons are allowed as long as you drew the image on them yourself.
« Last Edit: February 28, 2012, 07:40:22 PM by chibimonster »
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LiL Moon

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Re: Certain fanart now banned in the artist alley?
« Reply #17 on: February 28, 2012, 08:27:55 PM »

Wow, I can't believe how this topic just exploded.  :o Great comments everyone. @cutekick I think you do bring up some valid points. Thank you. I always appreciate learning more about copyright policies.

I do agree with everyone. I think fanart is really the main reason that people come to the artist alley so I don't think it should be taken away fully. If I only wanted to sell originals, I wouldn't be trying so hard to come to an anime con.  :P I don't mind the 50/50 rule. I thought it was interesting how Otakon has it set, but I think that it's fair. At least fanart is not totally banned there.

I really try to do good research before I decide what to make. I often like making plushies that companies haven't made yet or if they have, I try to make mine as different as possible. In the end, I just want to make fans happy.  :D

The artist alley is hard to regulate. But I wouldn't be so bummed if the art wasn't so subjective. Some crafts are approved, some are not, even if they are almost identical. People can say that they are different in certain ways. But how can you really compare? Art really is too subjective.

I haven't heard anything from the staff in a few days and I'm starting to get antsy. I'll go with whatever rules are set, but I would just like to hear something from them. I figured they are super busy so I'm trying not to panic, but it's getting closer to the artist alley cut off date. Oh why did my registration have to be so close?  :-X

@Hachimitsu-ink Why were pocky stick plushies banned? Those sound like such a cute idea.
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chibimonster

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Re: Certain fanart now banned in the artist alley?
« Reply #18 on: February 28, 2012, 09:06:55 PM »

I have to say, I would strongly object to a 50/50 rule. It seems a bit unreasonable to regulate what type of art is sold as long as the art is creative. Fanart and original art both take the same amount of drawing skill and creativity in order to be appealing, and I think the choice of what to sell should be up to the artist as long as their isn't any blatant copyright violation, such as tracing, going on. Fanart will be a grey area regardless of how much the artists sell, and, as cutekick pointed out, would cause an increase in table price.

Also, fans really don't go to anime cons to buy original art; they want art of characters they know and love. In my case, I look for a new interpretation of a character when I buy fanart. For example, when I look for a print of Hatsune Miku, I don't just want a drawing of her standing against a white background with a generic happy expression on her face. That would be boring. Instead, I look for a picture of her singing, playing an instrument, or otherwise interacting with the viewer (me) or her environment. Art likes that takes creativity to produce, so I think that the customers at artist alley do a fairly good job of ensuring that the artists are creative; unoriginal fanart won't sell very well, so why would I bring any? I would make my fanart as unique and creative as possible so that people will actually want to buy it instead of walking by and saying, "Oh look... another Sasuke".

As I stated earlier, original art won't sell as well even if it is just as awesome and creative as fanart. This is because the attendees at conventions are looking to buy art of their favorite characters. Therefore, forcing artists to have an equal volume of fanart and original art makes a dent in my profits.

Hypothetical situation time! If I had 20 fanart prints and 20 original art prints, and each print cost 70 cents to produce (That's about how much one 8x10 on glossy paper costs at my local Office Max), I have spent 28 dollars to make my prints. If I sell my prints at $8 each, and I sell out of my fanart prints, I make 132 dollars. However, I know that at most, people are going to buy 3 of my original prints, so the maximum amount of profit I can expect is $156. Now, assume there is no 50/50 rule, and I can just have 40 fanart prints. I'm still spending $28 to make them. However, I can expect to sell out of the fanart prints. Therefore, I make a profit of $292. Now, I don't do this for a living, and a $136 difference isn't the end of the world, but I like to approach artist alley as a business and try my best to maximize profits; I find that aspect rather fun, actually. Therefore, the 50/50 rule would dramatically change my artist alley experience, and I'm pretty sure that it wouldn't be for the better.

I wouldn't object to a less demanding rule. For example, a rule that each artist would have to sell at least 3 different original works wouldn't bother me very much. it's just that 50/50 gets to be quite a hassle when I want to sell a lot of fanart butons.
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Armored-Heart

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Re: Certain fanart now banned in the artist alley?
« Reply #19 on: February 28, 2012, 10:34:21 PM »

I personally wouldn't object too much to the 50/50 rule, because it's a bit more understandable and potentially not too overbearingly strict. Banning fanart completely would be rather harsh.

@chibimonster- One thing to note though is whether or not the 50/50 rule means an exact amount of prints; for example, I'm currently preparing for Bronycon's Artist Alley this summer and am working on pony decals. Some ponies might sell more than others (i.e. Fluttershy as opposed to Big Mac) so I would print more Fluttershy decals than Big Mac decals. I assume that fanart and original art could work out the same way, since you would want to minimize your loss caused by leftover merch by printing in reasonable quantities, so long as the options available for purchase were approximately 50/50.
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Not attending for 2014. Sorry!
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