Cosplay is now a huge industry in Japan, with cosplayers around the world often flocking to the country before the pandemic. But now, it seems that the Japanese government is looking into possible copyright violations that the hobby may have with the copyright owners of the characters they are portraying. The Japanese government has researched the situation, and found that copyright regulation on cosplay is a bit vague right now, with no laws protecting either the copyright holder or the cosplayers themselves.
The Japanese government report did admit that just by cosplaying, cosplayers aren’t breaking any laws. However, problems may arise if cosplayers post photos in social media, or sell images of themselves cosplaying, there may be some copyright laws broken. Generally, if a cosplayer is making money from the hobby, they may be breaking the law because the company that owns the character they are portraying isn’t making any money.
However, it isn’t like cosplayers can just contact copyright holders and ask them permission to cosplay their characters. And to this, Japanese House of Councilors member Taro Yamada has proposed a database of copyright holders that can be accessed by cosplayers to obtain permission. The government is also looking to codify these regulations as well. Fortunately, the government knows it’s treading on difficult ground, as they don’t want to ruin Japan’s huge cosplay culture. In fact, Japan’s Minister of State Shinji Inoue has said that imposing strict regulations on cosplay would not be a good idea.
For now, the Japanese government is actually meeting not only with copyright holders, but also cosplayers themselves to discuss the matter. Among these cosplayers is Japan’s #1 cosplayer, Enako herself. As for the government, they hope that they can integrate these new laws into their Cool Japan project and promote cosplay internationally in a positive way. Only time will tell if they will follow through on their promise that they will not impose harsh regulations though.
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