Right now, the Japanese fans are buzzing worriedly about the implications of their country joining the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) because it might impact their beloved doujinshi segment. “Doujinshi” (同人誌) is bread and butter of Japanese manga scene, this is where many aspiring mangakas drawing parodies of the established anime/manga franchises for years. For example, the creator of Love Hina and Mahou Sensei Negima, Ken Akamatsu started off as a doujinshi artist so is TYPEMOON duo Kinoko Nasu and Takeshi Takeuchi (Fate/Stay Night).
The biggest doujinshi market is bi-annual Comiket (コミケット /Komiketto) where attendance can reach 500,000 easily. This event alone is already 40 years old, and some materials obtained in the event are highly prized since no reprints are possible once it is gone. Despite the continuous flagrant violation of IP, many official publishers and mangakas choose to turn a blind eye to it – it is a simple barometer of the popularity of their work and fostering future talents for the industry itself. Even when the parodies involves some suggestive/sexual elements.
As The Yomiuri Shimbun points out, the current Japanese copyright law only recognizes any violations when the original copyright owner lodges a report/complaint. Zero complaint, zero enforcement. However with TPP, a third party can lodge a complaint and it is legitimate enough for the authorities to take action. This is due to provisions under the TPP that tries to make the process easier to protect IP, which is a big business in US. This means a disgruntled fan, a rival artist or even a troll can make life hard for the doujinshi artist. See the illustration below for this point:
The newspaper reported that one of the experts involved in the TPP negotiations assures that “a degree of parody” will be allowed under the new copyright provisions. However, Ken Akamatsu is voicing out the worries of the fans, “If creators can be prosecuted without complaints from rights holders, it could lead to some kind of snitching battle between fans. Places for people to share their work will also disappear.”
This could mean the end of fan-based manga scene as we know it for many decades.
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