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What Lawyers Can Learn From Manga 357

Posted by timothy
from the lots-and-lots dept.
jedigeek links to this article from Lawrence Lessig, writing "This article explains the interesting phenomenon of dojinshi, and why dojinshi helps fuel the production of original manga. From a western-perspective, dojinshi breaks copyright laws, but, according to the article's author: 'The law is a rough-edged tool. It was not crafted by geniuses of economics.' In a time when laws like the DMCA exist and are being exploited, this is certainly food for thought."
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What Lawyers Can Learn From Manga

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  • For the uninitiated (Score:5, Informative)

    by tino_sup (460223) <tino_sup@aichohteeemayeell.com> on Friday January 10, 2003 @08:04PM (#5059676) Homepage Journal
    Doujinshi is fan drawn and developed. This is not a new phenomenon as copying original work has always been viewed as flattery in Japan. It is our application of Western laws and thinking that sparks the copyright debate.
  • by jericho4.0 (565125) on Friday January 10, 2003 @08:21PM (#5059788)
    There is a difference between laws. The criminal code is enforced by the state, but contract and copyright law are enforced by the stakeholders, with help from the state. So the choice to apply the law is up to the copyright holders.

    The fact of it is, of course, that buissness violates laws for profit all the time. When the consequence of a violation is a fine, it just becomes another risk analysis to make.

  • by SillyHamster (538384) on Friday January 10, 2003 @08:36PM (#5059867)
    Well, its not that law is a secondary concern, its that there are two kinds of law.

    The first one is criminal law. These are wrongs against society (like murder, theft, and what not), and the person guilty of it will be punished by the government.

    The second kind is civil law, which involves torts, wrongs against either individuals or organizations. These are pursued by the victim to the perpetuator in order to receive recompensation for any damages.

    The two often go together. (ie: You stole my computer. You've acted against society and me. I may sue for the damages caused to me [cost of a new computer], or whatever it takes to put me back financially before you stole my computer under civil law. Then you are slapped with jail time or
    a fine under criminal law, to serve as a deterrent to other potential theives.)

    Now, in this case, to the best of my knowledge, the fans have not violated any criminal law, so there is only a tort (private wrong) involved. As such, the business has the right to sue the fans for any damages that they can prove. BUT, the company may choose not to sue the fans for whatever reason.

    In this case, its because they think that by letting the fans do so, they will get advertising (Hey... what's that cool comic based off of? Trigun? Cool... gotta check that out.), and by not suing their fans, the fans will likely be happier with the company and keep buying stuff.

    If the company instead sued the fans, that would hurt their business, as they are basically attacking their customers, which are their revenue source. (like shooting yourself in the foot... not very intelligent.)

    IANAL, but I'm taking a law class in high school, and hopefully this clears things up a bit. (and please correct me if I got anything about this wrong.)
  • by Maeryk (87865) on Friday January 10, 2003 @08:43PM (#5059900) Journal
    Title: "How to Draw Manga"
    Author: "A Society For The Study Of Manga Techniques"
    #PP: 116
    ISBN# 4-88996-042-2
    Published 1999, subtitle "Compiling Characters"

    It goes in depth into design and shaping of characters.. including that manga SMILE, and the eyes, and (apparent lack of) nose, as well as shading techniques, and how to use pen, ink, pencil, tone sheets, and other items to make your manga look "real".

    Also covers lettering, position of word bubbles and position of characters to convey action, emotion, etc.

    It also goes to explain how the Hero is always one head taller than the Villain, who is 1/2 to 1 head taller than the lead female, and the comic relief is almost *ALWAYS* 3 heads tall, with his own head being 1/3 of that three.

    It kind of goes into the un-written dynamic of characters that we all noticed when watching StarBlazers for the first time, but didnt realize WHY we were noticing.

    As for price, I have no idea. It was an Xmas gift from my Mom several years ago.

    oh.. and it has manga-boobies, too!

    maeryk
  • Re:Unfair comparison (Score:4, Informative)

    by RatBastard (949) on Friday January 10, 2003 @09:06PM (#5060013) Homepage
    Two things:
    1. Parody is a well established excemption of copyright law. You can parody any work ever created.
    2. "Wierd" Al always asks permission before he parodies anyone's work. He doesn't have to, and he knows it, but he always does (depending on who you beleive in that Coolio song screwup).
    Copyright holders here aren't terribly interested in parody. They're more interested in busting the balls of some sap who hacks his robot dog or knocking the heads of those day-care centers that have unlisenced pictures of Goofy, Donald, Micky and Wall E. Gator on their walls.
  • by LostCluster (625375) on Friday January 10, 2003 @09:12PM (#5060044)
    What the lawyer won't tell them, because he has no way of knowing, is how much good can come to the company by allowing Person 1 to continue uninterrupted, or perhaps even with the encuragement of the company.

    It's the lawyer's duty to warn the company of what can go wrong legally, but somebody should call marketing and PR to to find out what can go wrong if they do go forward with the lawsuits.

    Sometimes, the business benefits more from Person 1's actions are so much greater that the risk of Person 2 should be accepted, and dealt with when Person 2 comes forward.
  • by BJH (11355) on Friday January 10, 2003 @09:12PM (#5060047)
    Written Japanese is overcomplicated by the use of kanji.

    Japanese, like any other language, is almost exactly as complex as it needs to be - several thousand years of linguistic development tends to remove the bloat.

    of course, why the Japanese don't drop the kanji and use kana exclusively is beyond me -- it seems that it would make all sorts of things easier

    It only seems easier to you that way because you read things like manga where kanji is not necessarily vital. If you read a Japanese novel, you'd see why kanji are required - reading with kanji is about ten times faster than pure kana.
  • by Maul (83993) on Friday January 10, 2003 @09:36PM (#5060166) Journal
    This is what I know about doujinshi. I'm sure that I might be missing some small details, but it is an interesting contrast to the concepts of Intellectual Property that we have in the US.

    As the article states, doujinshi are "fan comics" created mainly by amatures that are based on existing works by professional manga artists.
    Doujin varies greatly in quality and content. Lots of it is complete crap, while some of it is actually very good, arguably better than the work it is derived from. Additionally, a lot of doujin is pornographic in nature, though not all of it is.

    It is similar to fanfiction, except there is one huge difference between fanfiction in the US and doujin in Japan. Doujin artists actually SELL their work for profit. There are even stores deticated just to doujin in Japan, not to mention
    many very large conventions centered around doujin.

    In the US, the owners of the original work would no doubt sue the pants off of anyone who tried this. If I were to make an "X-Men" fan comic and try to sell it, I could expect a big fat lawsuit from Marvel comics. However, in Japan, doujin artists are very rarely prosecuted.

    The only time I can think of a doujin artist being sued is when Nintendo took legal action against a female doujin artist for making a Pokemon-based comic where Pikachu is raped by Satoshi (Ash).
    I can't really blame them for that one...

    Most of the time pro manga artists see the doujinshi based on their works as homage. Infact, many major manga artists (such as Akamatsu Ken, creator of Love Hina) got their start doing doujin.

    Doujinshi have been around for a LONG time. Obviously, the presence of these fan comics have done little to no harm to the professional manga and anime industries. Those who produce doujin are typically the most hard core and loyal fans of the professional works, after all.

    I think doujinshi is an excellent example that derivitive works really do not dilute trademarks, or any such nonsense, and that these works actually help to promote fandom of the original work. If only our friends in the RIAA and MPAA could understand that... but I guess it is pointless, after all.
  • by yerricde (125198) on Friday January 10, 2003 @09:58PM (#5060274) Homepage Journal

    This is how it's pronounced according to the article.

    doe (a deer a female deer) + GIN (and tonic) + she (pronoun) = doujinshi

    Actually, the Japanese don't emphasise syllables

    Japanese does have a pitch accent. See this explanation [everything2.com].

  • by jheinen (82399) on Friday January 10, 2003 @10:18PM (#5060346) Homepage
    "Copyright law requires the holder to actively defend the copyright"

    No. That's trademark. Copyright is automatically granted and is always enforceable. You need not defend your copyright to keep it.
  • by Genyin (415163) on Friday January 10, 2003 @11:01PM (#5060501) Homepage Journal
    (of course, why the Japanese don't drop the kanji and use kana exclusively is beyond me -- it seems that it would make all sorts of things easier)

    I disagree. In part, kanji offset the lack of spacing between words. As a student of the language, I find that, when I see a huge block of kana, it's next to impossible to read; kanji interspersed through it make it either an order of magnitude easier to read (if I actually know the kanji) or slightly easier(if I don't, because that means I probably don't know the word either)

    Kanji are fairly regular, you know...
  • by dan of the north (176417) on Friday January 10, 2003 @11:31PM (#5060599)
    Lawrence Lessig refers to an article published in the Rutgers Law Review this past fall by Temple Law professor Salil Mehra. The Mehra paper is here [ssrn.com] in pdf form.
  • Original Article (Score:2, Informative)

    by soramimicake (593421) on Saturday January 11, 2003 @12:12AM (#5060760)
    The article Lessig referred to is available here [ssrn.com].

    There is another reason publishers are reluctant to go after doujinshi writers. There are quite a few professional manga artists that got their start by writing doujinshi. Some publishers see the doujinshi market as training ground for new professional manga artists, from where they can hire the best. Also, some are afraid of offending their artists, who still have many connections with the doujin field.

  • by Katharine (303681) on Saturday January 11, 2003 @12:14AM (#5060770)
    Actually, the "head" system is commonly used in figure drawing-- classical drawing as well as comic books. It is particularly useful for keeping things in proportion if you are trying to draw a figure from your imagination. There are different systems for figuring height of a figure in heads depending on if you are drawing a "realistic" figure, a "heroic" figure, etc.

    Even fashion drawing uses the head system of proportioning the figure, it just changes the formula to distort the form so you wind up with unnaturally small heads on very long-legged bodies.
  • by Lord Bitman (95493) on Saturday January 11, 2003 @02:27AM (#5061181) Homepage
    As an anime fan since the late 80s, I had been aware of doujinshi, but it was not until my trips to Tokyo that I truly began to comprehend it. What I observed was:

    1) Doujinshi is not allways "copycat". There are some small
    fan-run books that are called doujinshi (and sold at Comic Market) that are totally original.

    2) A lot of it is about porn. And about seeing your favorite anime character violated, often by tenticles. Yes, there are some original "fanfic" type stories...but there is also a lot of Sailor Moon meets Urotsukudoji. I couldn't believe the things they were doing to poor [I am a dumbass]!

    3) The Japanese are a lot more liberal about their hand-drawn porn than we are. The yaoi (boy-boy) stuff is right there with the girl-girl stuff. Women in Japan appear to be as open about liking boy-boy as men are about girl-girl. Porn is just porn.

    4) Doujinshi is where folks seem to start. First you make a doujinshi of a magical girls series you like. Then you make your own magical girl. Then you decide if you really want to be a [I am a dumbass] and start trying to make a name for yourself. If you get lucky you might get in one of the anthologies - the collections put out weekly or monthly the size of small phonebooks.

    Shopping for this stuff in Japan is quite fun. My best friend came with me on one of my business trips, and I came back to the hotel after the first day and he'd already scored. In fact he got me a doujinshi of my favorite [I am a dumbass] getting violated several ways.

    If [I am a dumbass] for porn.

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