Whew! TPP Won't Kill Off Cosplay

♠ Posted by Emmanuel in ,, at 10/18/2015 06:15:00 PM
TPP preserves your rights to dress like a cartoon character...to an extent.
I have always enjoyed featuring fringe stories from the world of international economic relations, and this one should fill the bill for this month. There is a very large, globe-spanning community that enjoys dressing up as famous cartoon/comic/video game characters known as the "cosplay" crowd. As you would expect, they dress in their, er, finest for conventions of the aforementioned media.

While elder Japanese were probably fretting about agricultural and automobile imports during the TPP negotiations, younger Japanese cosplay fans in Japan worried about their freedom of expression. That is, would the likes of Bandai Namco and Nintendo strictly enforce intellectual property rights against those dressing up as their characters? Thankfully, the Japanese government may have actually listened to the cosplay folks and inserted some provisions that will preserve their freedom to dress as silly as they please:
Negotiators from the 12 nations participating in the Trans-Pacific Partnership were surely relieved to finally seal a deal. The arrangement also took a load off the minds of Japanese otaku, as the nation's legions of anime and comic fans are known. The free trade pact, hashed out over more than five years, is to strengthen the protection of intellectual property -- to a degree that drawing or dressing up as a character from, say, "Dragon Ball" could lead to criminal charges. The original copyright holder would not even have to file a complaint; a third party could do so.

A summary of the pact released by the Japanese government on Monday confirms that copyright violations will be prosecutable even if the owner does not press charges. To the relief of otaku, though, the paragraph does not end there. It goes on to say that cases that do not affect the profitability of rights holders will be considered exceptions [my emphasis]. The summary sparked a flurry of celebratory Internet comments by the otaku-inclined. "The Japanese government cares about our culture," one individual wrote. "They gave us full consideration."
Actually, a big text will come at the next big event in Japan. The thinking goes that for as long as the IP use is not massive--or massively profitable--then cosplay outfitting will be allowed. That is, homemade is fine but large-scale commercialization of others' IP may not be:
"Selling small volumes of doujinshi or doing cosplay should be safe," said Ken Akamatsu, author of the "Love Hina" and "Negima! Magister Negi Magi" manga series. But the legality of "massively profitable doujinshi and posting edited anime videos remains unclear."

 Otaku will have to wait to see how domestic laws take shape after the TPP comes into effect. In some countries, such as the U.S and South Korea, copyright violations are already punishable without a complaint from an owner. But the law books also allow for "fair use" -- limited exceptions for copying protected materials. This doctrine provides a shield for fan-driven events like Comic Con in San Diego and Anime Expo in Los Angeles.
It seems a fair trade-off  to me.