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Friday, April 28th, 2006

Time Event
11:07a
Show #019b - The 2006 Otakon Artist's Alley Debacle and Thoughts on the Issue of "Fanart", Part 2
Show #019b Direct Download:

Opening Music: "Ai Believe" by Project Baki
Closing Music: "Kujibiki Unbalance" by UNDER17 performed somewhere or other, live in Japan in front of a group of otaku. Check it out on the first volume of Genshiken in the DVD Extras. The performance is so awesome. I used to hate Under17 but now I might like them.

This show is pretty negative for the first half, so I'm somewhat concerned. It's important here to know that Alison (and myself) do not have a personal problem with the current head of Otakon's Artist's Alley, who's initials are R.A., rather, we have (had?) a problem with her public relations.

What would've been preferable to all the artist involved is if Otakon talked to their lawyer first, and then presented an official policy that was not open for public discussion. Not leaving things open for public discussion would have gone against Otakon's community mentality, but it may have saved the public relations disaster that followed.

If I were R.A., and I listened to this show, I would probably get (understandably) upset. That said, Alison used her real name in the Otakon forums when the policy was under discussion, so R.A. should be well aware of Alison's feelings on this topic. By now it should all be water under the bridge, but at the time we recorded this audio, back in February/March, both Alison and myself had very strong feelings about it.

I myself (Erin) did not participate in the forum discussions until the official policy was announced. It's worth noting that I have an art table at Otakon 2006, which I have paid for. I intend to respect the new rules and policies. Alison opted long ago not to get a table at Otakon this year.Carl Horn's awesome email really only refers to the preliminary policy, which, had it become official, banned all American-made doujinshi from Artist's Alley, as well as any and all goods bearing character likenesses that would not be considered "parody". Under the official policy, doujinshi is allowed, and many craft-type goods are allowed, but buttons and T-shirts with anime characters on them are not allowed (with a few exceptions.)

Here's a chart to help explain it:

Past Otakons Under the preliminary policy

Under the official policy


Most items that are not directly copied art allowed. Very few restictions.

No items bearing anime characters which are not original designs.

Items bearing non-original anime characters allowed, but under limited conditions.


Doujinshi/fan comics allowed. Only parody or satire doujinshi allowed. Doujinshi/fan comics allowed.
Unlimited prints/posters are allowed. Only prints and posters of original characters allowed. 25 prints/poster of any design allowed, including anime characters.
Buttons of fan art in unlimited numbers are allowed. Only buttons with original designs allowed. Only buttons with original characters and on-the-spot button commissions allowed.
T-shirts with very vague restrictions allowed. Only original T-shirt designs allowed. Only original T-shirt designs allowed.
Commissioned Sketches allowed. Commissioned Sketches allowed. Commissioned Sketches allowed.
Cosplay items allowed. Cosplay items allowed - but probably not Naruto headbands. Cosplay items allowed - but probably not Naruto headbands.

The ban on non-original buttons and T-shirts didn't come up until April, and the 7th page of the "The Alley - 2006 Policy Q&A thread", available to be seen only by forum members. Jim Vowles writes:
For the reasons stated: there is generally no blanket license that covers "fan art prints", but there IS a license for buttons & pins, t-shirts, etc.

We arrived at these rules by talking to lawyers who specialize in intellectual property, and advocating strongly on behalf of the artists.
It also seems, from the thread as if Otakon heavily encourages cosplay items (except Naruto headbands), crafty things (like stained glass and wood carving), commissioned sketches, and fan comics/doujinshi. Basically anything where there aren't any competing goods in the Dealer's Room is generally allowed. They are generally discouraging items which dealers pay a lot of money to sell, like buttons, pins, and T-shirts. Anything that is really hard to make, like say, plushies, is totally OK to sell in Artist's Alley.

However, I am not Otakon staff and the chart above may not be 100% accurate or even close to accurate.

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