Cosplay as a hobby is how fans show tribute to a manga or anime character that they admire. Over the years, this dressing-up subculture has spiked in popularity, not just in Japan, but also across many countries.
In order to minimise the ambiguities in cosplay copyright, the Japanese government has begun to develop rules: in the future, if you post your cosplay photos to social media, or your cosplay is making a profit, there is a possibility of copyright infringement.
Currently, the Japanese government is still in discussion with professional cosplayers, including Japan’s “Number One Cosplayer” Enako — her annual income last year exceeded 50 million yen (about S$640,000, which is more than S$50,000 a month) even amidst the coronavirus recession. Enako is also the ambassador for Cool Japan, promoting Japanese pop culture on an international scale.
— えなこ (@enako_cos) January 24, 2021
Regarding the new rules, Enako voiced her opinions on Twitter, “I understand from Minister Inoue (Minister of State for the ‘Cool Japan’ Strategy) that they are looking for a way to protect copyright without affecting the current cosplay culture.”
“I haven’t heard anything about the social media ban,” she added. “But personally, I sincerely hope that neither social media posts nor fan-made activities will be regulated if they are not for profit.”
Enako also clarified, “When I’m on commercial projects such as TV and events, I take copyright into consideration, and appear in my original costumes instead of cosplaying copyrighted characters. When I cosplay copyrighted characters, I will obtain permission from the publisher.”
Although such copyright issues are tricky to deal with, Japanese netizens are generally supportive of Enako, with comments like: “Enako knows this best, so I believe it will move in a good direction.” “Rules are important to protect the cosplay culture.” “I don’t want to lose the cosplay culture.”
It is unclear yet whether these rules will apply worldwide. But as long as a balance is struck between the copyright problem and protecting the cosplay culture, all is good, right?
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