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Shunju column: Ambiguity in copyright issues the key to fostering new talent in manga world

  • 2015-10-26 15:00:00
  • , Nikkei
  • Translation

(Nikkei: October 25, 2015 – p. 1)


 Over the past few years, concerns were rife among publishers that the government’s handling of the Trans-Pacific Partnership may ruin manga culture. Japan and the 11 other countries participating in the TPP talks had been discussing copyright issues to allow regulatory authorities to crack down on infringements if the writers of works do not file legal actions.


 A tougher control on copyright violations should work in favor of writers and publishers. But the matter is not that simple when it comes to creation. There are many takeoff stories that are published through fanzines. At a big sales event, for example, as many as 500,000 people from both Japan and abroad flock to buy the copies. “Cosplay” events are also attracting many like-minded people, who dress up as their favorite manga or animation characters. They are posting their photos to online sharing sites.


 As a matter of fact, many professional manga writers have polished their skills by contributing stories to fanzines. While the TPP had been expected to help crack down on copyright infringements, there had been fears that the trade pact may harm the overall manga culture. According to TPP agreements that the government has recently announced, the producers of copycat works will not be busted unless their actions financially hurt the original writers. This means parody magazines and cosplay acts will not be subject to copyright violation for the time being.


 Fanzines featuring parodies probably won’t go away thanks to the understanding of creators of original works. Asked why they don’t file lawsuits, they responded, “These people are my fans” and “I know how they feel.” Some people say that fresh talent develops under adversity. These professional writers are not in favor of or against parody publications. They know that giving tacit approval or carte blanche is the best way to foster talent.

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