The Japanese government is currently looking to introduce more restrictive cosplay policies, and this is much discussed with cosplayers across the country. Above all else, the government wants to protect copyright law and has made several legal hypotheses that would pose intolerable restrictions for some cosplay fans.
The world of cosplay in Japan
Cosplay in Japan appeared around 1990-1991 and developed fairly quickly. The country is the country that presents most of the participants in large exhibitions and places special emphasis on the model and her poses, which must be as close as possible to the appearance and poses of the original character.
Right now, anyone in Japan can get dressed to copy the style of a character from an anime. However, this freedom could soon be deprived of the Japanese, or at least professionals and those who want to share their talent on social networks.
The new bill from the Japanese government
The Japanese government is currently proposing major changes regarding copyright law. If these changes are proven, it would have a direct impact on cosplayers across the country. Indeed, as writer and translator Matt Alt points out in a tweet you can read below, the Japanese government is considering changing the country’s copyright laws to make cosplayers pay for the use of characters:
The Japanese government is not weighing a change in copyright law, so developers can charge fees from professional cosplayers. (And it’s a real problem: the most successful can make over $ 500,000 / year.) I think this is the first attempt by a national government to look into cosplay? https://t.co/G9m0FJTmB3
January 24, 2021
The Japanese government is considering changing the copyright law to allow developers to charge professional cosplayers. (And that’s a real problem: the most successful can make over $ 500,000 a year, or just over $ 400,000.) I think this is the first attempt at attacking the cosplay world of the US Part of a national government?
Cosplay can be a juicy affair in Japan. The very famous cosplayer Enako, for example, would earn around $ 90,000 per month through public appearances, products, photo books, chat sessions and other various referrals. Other cosplayers also make money selling photos or clips of themselves when they are dressed the same as their favorite characters.
According to Kyodo News, Japanese copyright law is still unclear, but it emphasizes that Cosplaying for Profit is not an infringement. However, Kyodo News adds that even uploading cosplay photos to social media like Instagram could be copyright infringement. In this case, the effects can be felt throughout the cosplay community. While it will be possible for cosplayers to continue to dress up, there may be penalties for sharing a photo of themselves.
Although this bill has already been widely debated around the world, Enako has since tried to ease tension. She said on her Twitter account:
I had a discussion with Minister Inoue and we are looking for a way to protect copyright without affecting the current cosplay culture. I’m not really in a position to make a statement on the matter, but personally I hope the changes don’t address social media posts and fan-generated activities if they are not for-profit.
The young woman also hopes that this regulation does not necessarily affect the social network Instagram. Details must be communicated by the Japanese government in the following weeks.
Enako also wanted to clarify the current situation:
I’ve said this a couple of times, but when I’m on TV, at events or anything else for profit, I respect copyright laws and I don’t cosplay characters from published works, I go out in my own clothes. Whenever I cosplay characters from published works, I do so after getting permission from the editor.
So we have to wait for the details that the Japanese government has revealed very soon to know how the cosplay world is being messed up in Japan. We already know that professional cosplayers are sure to be held accountable to editors. If you are interested in the world of cosplay and want to know more about its origins, we invite you to consult our file on cosplay from the birth of the phenomenon to its popularization.