The Great Licensed Apparel Question

Licensed apparel (or clothing) has gained prominence in the merchandising puzzle as of late thanks to its simplicity, low cost/high margins and its customizability. Long gone are the days when clothing bearing your favourite cartoon character was only availably in a few, all-round safe choices. Today, thanks to on-demand production and the internet as a sales channel, it’s possible to create clothing with just about anything on it and in just about any batch size. So here’s the deal, given a choice, would consumers rather wear clothes that feature a character or rather replicas of the clothes the character wears?

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Week Links 17-2013

Fewer week links than normal today; it’s been a busy week.

Elliot Cowan on Film Making

The New York-based animator continues production on his feature film and comments on the process thus:

Making a film is like deciding to adopt an orphan from some war torn, strife ridden corner of the world. At first it seems like a great idea. There’s a lot of energy and excitement of what’s to come. Then after a while it starts waking you up screaming in the night, and freaking out in company.
Shitting all over your regular plans and costing you more than you expected.
Eventually you want to avoid it but you can’t, because if you do it’ll wither away and die and by now you feel some responsibility for it.
And people keep asking “How’s the film? Is it doing well?”.
So you stick with it, through the exhaustion and late nights and drama.
One day it grows up and it heads out on it’s own and you’ve either grown to love it or you never want to see it again.

Hopefully Elliot loves it, as will everyone else đŸ™‚

Warner Brothers sued for unauthorized use of Nyan Cat and Keyboard Cat

Ars Technica (amongst others) reports on the lawsuit being brought by the creators of Nyan Cat and Keyboard Cat against major Hollywood studio Warner Bros. The issue concerns the use of said cats in a video game published by them and created by 5th Cell.

It’s still at an early stage and some aspects of the complaint are slightly dubious but expect Warners to settle this one fairly quickly. The central issue of copyright infringement should serve as a reminder that the onus is on creators to defend their work.

‘Rise of the Guardians’ Rebounds for DreamWorks Animation

I’m putting this down as yet another reason to not believe most of what you read from mainstream sources. As it turns out. Rise of the Guardians has done better on home media than expected and raising profits at the independent studio.

Tweets of the Week

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Lastly, Disney Princesses as Sailor Senshi

Via: Buzzfeed
Via: Buzzfeed

Buzzfeed has the entire collection of this fan-made mashup that’s oddly appropriate. Hat tip to Sarah Marino for the link đŸ™‚

Via: Buzzfeed
Via: Buzzfeed

Shutting Down Fan Art With Copyright

Via: Andrea Kalfas
‘Dark Lady’ Via: Andrea Kalfas

Copyright is another recurring theme of this blog for the simple reason that we are in an era of rapid and destructive copyright reform. Technologies such as the internet are redefining the role and even extent of copyright as a business model tool. Creation and distribution are some areas where copyright reform is an issue but the presence of the concept in fan art is another important area. Today’s topic comes via Crunychroll (stay tuned for a separate post on them next week) and concerns the shutting down of a Sailor Moon fan art book on Kickstarter by publisher Random House.

The Copyright Issue At Hand

Yes, I know we discussed it just yesterday, but here, Kickstarter plays the opposite role in the debate. Instead of the creators hoarding copyright, it is they who need to be concerned. In this instance, the copyright on Sailor Moon (at least in manga form) is held by Kodansha Comics (the US subsidiary of the Japanese company). What’s interesting though, is that the DMCA takedown notice filed with Kickstarter was not issued by Kodansha, rather it was by major publisher Random House who are merely the distributors in this saga.

The Kickstarter project in question was an attempt to print a collection of fan art for this extremely popular series and had a few famous names attached (Adventure Time crew member Natasha Allegri stands out). As of writing, the project has been suspended and no appeal appears to be forthcoming.

Who Does This Hurt?

As the Crunchyroll piece which I stumbled across lays out right from the start:

Here’s an example of why there isn’t much of a doujinshi scene in North America, particularly not in regards to print doujinshi.

For the unitiated like myself, ‘doujinshi’ is what Wikipedia calls “the Japanese term for self-published works, usually magazines, manga or novels. Doujinshi are often the work of amateurs, though some professional artists participate as a way to publish material outside the regular industry.” In other words, a combination of fan fiction and fan art.

So as is often the question here on the Animation Anomaly; who does this hurt? It isn’t so much the fans; they will adore Sailor Moon regardless, but rather its the people on the fringes who may be fans of the artists and subsequently discover Sailor Moon (either in manga or anime form) through this book.

Why The Copyright Aspect is Problematic

Despite the apparently strong case, there is a number of issues with this it. First of all, why is the distributor of the manga filing the complaint? Surely it should be the copyright holder (Kodansha), right? Random House is merely the middleman that gets paid on a per-unit basis and whose profit should be a set markup on each. The copyright holder should be the one filing any DMCA takedown notices as they are the stakeholder that the law is designed to protect. If middlemen like Random House have a problem, they should take it up with Kadansha instead of being able to act on their own initiative.

The other concern is that there is a strong fair use case (via parody) for the artwork. They are clearly non-official and although I can’t find any details to confirm, it’s quite likely that the book’s creators made it clear that they are not officially associated with either Randorm House or Kadansha.

The End Result

The unfortunate conclusion is that this hurts everyone. The creators obviously since they can’t share their awesome artwork with fans, but also the publisher too. New fans could have been brought into the fold and possibly become purchasers of the manga collection.

In an additional twist, a new version of the anime is slated to hit the airwaves later in 2013. Surely every attempt to build public awareness of this should be treated with care. Again, this comes back to potential fans on the fringes being missed because they never had a chance to interact with the fan art book.

Week Links 04-2013

Here’s my week links of stuff I read and so should you!

Animation Insider Interviews Rob Renzetti

Yes, it’s an interview with the creator of my favourite animated TV show! Some great tidbits in there too.

It’s Finally Over: 8 Years Of Mattel vs. Bratz And No One’s Getting Paid But The Lawyers

Techdirt has the details on this final chapter in a showdown over who created what. This is a case that is well worth reading up about because it deals with ideas and concepts and who is legally entitled to own them. All very important concepts in the animation industry.

An Animated Tribute to Moonrise Kingdom

Via The A.V. Club comes this animated tribute by Michael Piazza and Toniko Pantoja to Wes Anderson’s 2012 film, Moonrise Kingdom:

Inside DreamWorks: how animated movies are rendered

Techradar has this look at the technological side of DreamWorks Animation. It comes off as a bit of a pitch piece for Hewlett-Packard, but it’s still very informative.

Clever Merchandising Tie-Ins In Sailor Moon

The Sailor Failures tumblelog takes a look at how the series (specifically Sailor Moon R) featured crafty references to the merchandise in every episode. Hint: there was a reason the outer senshi were given specific shots of their lisptick being applied:

Via: Sailor Failures
Via: Sailor Failures

Tweets of the Week

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News that Young Justice and Green Lantern: The Animated Series garner the following tweet from Brianne Drouhard:

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A problem in animated content too:

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