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Unread 01-22-2009, 10:45 PM   #1
TrombonePrincess
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Join Date: Aug 2004
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Smile Fan-Made Items, Artist's Alley, and Legal Issues: Any info?

I'm curious about how fanmade stuff works legally.

Hi everyone! ^_^ I would like to get as much information as possible on this topic, because I am thoroughly mystified by it.

In Artist's Alley at most cons, there are booths where people can sell their artwork of licensed characters from anime and games. There are also auctions for artwork and fanmade items like models/figurines they've made to celebrate their fandom. People can sell everything and anything online that they make too, costumes, cosplay props, replicas, the list is infinitely long. So my question is, how do companies with these licensed characters see this marketplace of fanmade items? I made a guess not based on much information, but perhaps you can see where I'm coming from.

This is my main guess: fanmade items can be sold for money because they are unique--the companies that own the characters have not licensed the types of products that people make from home, and therefore do not feel threatened by them. They know that these items can't be mass produced on a large scale, and that most of these creative fans will not make a significant amount of money off of their characters.

But what if they did? What if someone has a lucrative business online selling replicas and makes a living doing it? And does the law draw the line at an online storefront? What if someone wanted to create a physical store, with display windows and everything, using items made to look like licensed characters? I haven't seen anything like this, as stores usually sell licensed anime items.

So I'm curious as to how the "fanmade stuff" industry works, as in, is it underground, or do authorities just see it as nonthreatening? I know for sure that the anime industry condemns bootlegs and encourages fans to buy licensed DVDs and games from reputable sources so they can be paid for their hard work. But these are items that result from copying data-nothing is said about copying art style or character likenesses.

I'm not trying to condemn fanmade items, because I absolutely LOVE the fact that you can celebrate fandom this way, and I myself have made things and sold them to other people. These types of items are so unique and bring people joy. What I want to know is how far I can go with that without getting into trouble legally.

Thanks for reading! I look forward to any insight I receive. Have an awesome day
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