Shogakukan Bans Fan Art


Top manga publisher Shogakukan has banned almost all online fan activity pertaining to its works, most notably any form of artwork or doujinshi based on its characters.

The directives, published on their homepage and picked up on with concern by Hayate no Gotoku mangaka Kenjiro Hata:

Shogakukan forbids the following unauthorised usages of our publications on the Internet or intranets:

Posting pictures, in whole or in part, of the binding or pages of our publications.

Posting the contents or tables of contents of our publications.

Posting plot summaries or derivative stories and similar based on our publications.

Posting pictures or photographs, in whole or in part, of our characters.

Posting your own pictures (illustrations or parodies, etc.) of our characters.

Modifying our characters (including your own images) or publications for use in software, icons, wallpapers. etc.

Posting the contents of the Shogakukan homepage (pictures, data, or source) in whole or in part.

The above acts, whether commercial or non-commercial in character, are acts of copyright infringement. Those who do not respect these guidelines may find themselves subject to legal action, so please be warned.


This explicitly bans everything from fan art to wallpapers and even anime-themed avatars, and also apparently bans most Internet discussion, wiki coverage and reviews of Shogakukan works.

Just how Shogakukan expects this kind of draconian approach to suppressing its fandom to improve its position is something of a mystery, particularly given everything mentioned is traditionally considered free advertising.

The (apparently poorly understood) legal situation in most countries is that unauthorised derivative works are technically acts of copyright infringement, as copyright is held over characters and stories as well as the original work (and any translations thereof).

As a result, copyright reverts to the original copyright owner and thus distribution is subject to legal sanction at the whim of the copyright holder and the creator of the derivative work has no actual right to claim copyright of their own work (something which apparently escapes most doujin artists illegally attempting to use legal remedies such as the DMCA to control distribution of their own infringing works).

However, in many cases derivative works are explicitly permitted by rights holders on a non-commercial basis or subject to guidelines (Star Wars and Star Trek for example have elaborate rules for such creations), or else are simply tacitly ignored.

In Japan, the tradition is for the anime, manga and game industry to studiously ignore derivative works, which has allowed doujin events such as Comiket to flourish, and encouraged a multitude of artists to produce fan art depicting their favourite characters.

Many professional mangaka and artists are even active in the doujinshi field themselves, under loosely guarded pseudonyms.

Further complicating matters is the fact that in most jurisdictions copyright infringement requires some notice of objection from the copyright holder before civil or criminal action proceed – but Japanese police recently seem to have been making copyright prosecutions on their own initiative, rather than at the behest of the rights holder.

Japan also lacks a functional “fair use” doctrine for using pictures and text for commentary or reviews, or an equivalent to the DMCA’s generous allowances to sites carrying infringing content contributed by users (the DMCA grants immunity to site administrators as long as they respond to DMCA takedown requests).

All of these factors, coupled with the extreme spinelessness of most Japanese, make the Japanese Internet a rather fragile environment for the sort of activity which is taken as a matter of course elsewhere.

There is now some concern that other major publishers will follow suit with draconian copyright regimes of their own – Ishihara and the recent quake seem to have triggered an industry self-destruct mechanism…

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    Avatar of Minako
    Comment by Minako
    05:33 29/03/2011 # ! Quality (+1.0)

    Step 1: "Ban all unauthorized posts of plot summaries and character images based on our works from the internet."
    Step 2: "Waste millions of yen in advertisement to make up for the lack of information concerning our products."
    Step 3: "Hope that our paid advertisement is so widespread that it overshadows the free fan advertisement, AND still get profits somehow."

    Okay then... If that's how business works in Japan...

    Avatar of Shizu's Waki Obsessor: MaidNiac
    09:51 29/03/2011 # ! Neutral (0)

    Massive Economy Drop and Lost of profit in the Manga Industry in 3, 2, 1..

    Avatar of Nox Kreiker
    Comment by Nox Kreiker
    04:55 29/03/2011 # ! Quality (+1.0)

    Pretty stupid how Copyright went from "You used our creation to make a profit for yourself." to "You used something vaguely referencing my creation. Prepare to be sued."

    Avatar of yaku
    Comment by yaku
    05:08 29/03/2011 # ! Quality (+1.0)

    Not to mention the "let's be total dicks to the fanbase that helped my works become the huge hit they are now!" attitude.

    Avatar of AzureXuchilbara
    Comment by AzureXuchilbara
    05:45 29/03/2011 # ! Quality (+0.8)

    I won't even need a speech for this one...

    All of you tight-wad idiots at Shogakukan can't stop fan-art...Nor hentai and doujins~

    *points to his Hayate no Gokuto doujin collection*

    Comment by Anonymous
    06:11 29/03/2011 # ! Drivel (-1.0)

    only for that, they deserve another tsunami ;)

    Avatar of kazaza2
    Comment by kazaza2
    05:40 29/03/2011 # ! Good (+0.4)

    Disney's been pulling the same crap since forever. They have an army of lawyers and other weasels whose only function is to stop copyright infringement no matter how small. Must make Hitler lover Walt proud.

    Avatar of Dummy00001
    Comment by Dummy00001
    05:48 29/03/2011 # ! Neutral (+0.2)

    That's why, as one critique had put it, Americans are forever stuck with the Micky Mouse.

    Those are derivative works which advance the progress. "Original works" are myth, because every creator starts from something they learned or experienced previously. All creative works are derivative.

    Comment by Anonymous
    06:59 29/03/2011 # ! Neutral (+0.4)

    You should notice that there hasn't been a mainstream Micky Mouse production in decades. Whatever fandom it had promptly withered. Most kids know jack shit about MM and couldn't care less. Disney fucked themselves over.

    Comment by Anonymous
    06:15 29/03/2011 # ! Quality (+1.0)

    It needs to be said that even if the publishers want to ban all fanworks, the authors themself are totally against it and encourage people to continue making doujinshi and fanarts.

    As Hata-sensei said : "even if a publisher 'owns" a serie, the characters are the author's property, aren't they ? At least, I never was angry seeing a fanwork of my characters, so feel free to continue."

    I'm curious to see how the publisher vs mangaka battle will evolve, but seeing that Hata-sensei just deleted his tweets about his reaction makes me worried...

    If such a ban get applied, that would just means the death of pixiv, then doujin events, then comiket, then akihabara, then japan's pop culture.

    Japan seems to be really decided to end themself for some reason.

    btw, I became a Hayate fan because of a certain doujinshi, and watched Gurenn Lagann after seeing some fanarts. So I don't see how fanworks, even if the author makes money from it via doujinshi, do any harm to a serie.

    Comment by Anonymous
    06:56 29/03/2011 # ! Quality (+1.0)

    That's why modern copyright is a wagon of bullshit. It's basically fine to ignore the actual authors' (and general human) rights as long as publishers get the money. That needs killing with fire.

    Comment by Anonymous
    09:16 20/08/2013 # ! Neutral (0)

    YUP... We call it the Lottery mentality...

    Winner take all... triti

    Avatar of tyciol
    Comment by tyciol
    12:19 18/04/2011 # ! Neutral (0)

    We should boycott the publishers and tell the authors 'move your work to new publisher, we will buy then'.

    Comment by Anonymous
    03:32 30/03/2011 # ! Good (+0.6)

    "Posting the contents of the Shogakukan homepage (pictures, data, or source) in whole or in part."

    ...So by quoting their rules, you broke them, lol.

    Comment by Anonymous
    03:07 11/04/2011 # ! Neutral (0)

    thats because it doesn't really hurt them because as it did you it brings people into a series and most the time gets them to buy official items thus more money in their pocket.

    by cutting off the fanworks it's actually going to hurt them more in the long run then if they let people do this.

    hopefully the artist will stand up to this because really if you look at it if they decide to do work outside the publishing company (ie do their own doujinshi for the hell of it) they can be sued.

    Avatar of Homu Improvement
    Comment by Homu Improvement
    04:51 29/03/2011 # ! Quality (+1.0)

    It's doing things like this that lead to the decline of civilizations, ( banning shit for no reason and being extremely careful). Doing things that serve to benefit and only risk causing damage.

    Avatar of gundam4ever2
    Comment by gundam4ever2
    04:51 29/03/2011 # ! Quality (+1.0)

    Alienating the fan base is not a good idea.

    Avatar of Keima88
    Comment by Keima88
    06:53 29/03/2011 # ! Quality (+1.0)

    I can already see the ending.

    And it doesnt look good for Shogakukan.

    Avatar of FlyingCake
    Comment by FlyingCake
    07:37 29/03/2011 # ! Good (+0.6)

    Wat?! *Starts hoarding Hinagiku doujinshi*
    You can't take her away from mee! ;_;

    Avatar of HouseLife
    Comment by HouseLife
    13:46 29/03/2011 # ! Neutral (0)

    @ alidan

    You're right, copyright is more complicated than that, however it's also true that if you let rampant parodies and variations exist, then it has the potential to reduce the efficacy of your franchise. Now we all know that that's not the case in terms of Doujinshi and the like, but that doesn't change that it's still something that they occasionally need to re-establish in terms of legality for corporate purposes.

    There may also be an ulterior motive as well. Or perhaps, doubtfully, they really are getting tired of porn of their characters and want to take their fan presence in a different direction somehow. I wouldn't be surprised either way, but who cares. We'd still get porn even if there were only one person left on the planet. ...actually in that case that would be all there was.

    Comment by Anonymous
    14:52 29/03/2011 # ! Neutral (0)

    Does this mean that we aren't allowed to draw such characters as Mario, Sonic or Pokémon anymore, as they hold the copyright to the animations of these series?

    And yes, I don' think they actually intend to do something about it, just scare people a bit, reminding them who owns what...
    Or something like that.

    Comment by Anonymous
    16:13 29/03/2011 # ! Neutral (0)

    i would hate to see alll those Pokemon parodies out, not to mention i would have to put out my own.

    Comment by Anonymous
    19:03 29/03/2011 # ! Neutral (0)

    @HouseLife - you are thinking of Trademarks. Copyrights can not be diluted by infringement at all.

    Comment by Anonymous
    03:44 26/06/2013 # ! Neutral (0)

    They're not saying "All of you please remember we own the copyrights to the material we produced." They don't need to tell us, it's already the law of owning the rights to what you create.

    And this sure isn't a 'please be nice.' As you can clearly see by how a news site and its users reacted to their statement. It sounds like a threat and no one is happy to be threatened. Worse than that, they said "no plot summaries" even, which are totally harmless, and "your own pictures" aren't allowed either. That's making them out to be total dicks, not polite.

    Comment by Anonymous
    08:10 29/03/2011 # ! Neutral (0)

    Well, people could put them up on Deviant Art ^_^

    Avatar of HouseLife
    Comment by HouseLife
    07:46 29/03/2011 # ! Neutral (0)

    I get the feeling this is them stepping up to declare "All of you please just remember, we have to remind everyone legally that we own all these characters and stories. We're not going to go after you, this is just to make certain our copyright on these isn't weakened considering how many of you do this... so... ya know... just keep it away from us and don't tell us."

    They could have their copyrights in danger if they don't defend them, so this does make sense in a legal sense. Whether they do anything about it is another thing entirely, because now that it's on paper, it's been again established under no uncertain terms that they are in control of those entities.

    Avatar of alidan
    Comment by alidan
    08:30 29/03/2011 # ! Neutral (-0.2)


    your copyright is never realy in danger, except in the case of... lets say... a big publisher put out a game, for 60$ and distributed it for free.

    than 3 years later they decided to cash in on the people who downloaded it because they decided its not free.

    you dont lose copyright because you weren't willing to foot a 20-100k bill to go after someone you will never see a profit from. big businesses do this because its a deturant, go after 1, 10000 more wont do it. in their eyes that 20-100k lawsuit brings them at least 100k more in profit from the people who didnt pirate it.

    manga isnt that flourishing that it can do this on a large, even a small scale.

    Avatar of Shippoyasha
    Comment by Shippoyasha
    19:03 29/03/2011 # ! Neutral (0)

    Speaking of alienating the fanbase, I tried to post English subtitled anime music videos online and I got a quick 1 and 2 strikes (out of three) that would result me in permanent bans in a few video sites.

    They're getting so draconian, they will go straight after you even if you don't operate straight out of Japan even.

    I kinda wish they would keep a somewhat loose copyright aspects a bit too. Maybe not to the point where you disclose entire anime music soundtracks or entire anime seasons on Youtube, but they didn't totally go after your throat with each and every video and content like they do now. Now I'm frankly scared to support the anime/manga I love by working on translations, because apparently they're not going to be quiet about it any longer.

    Avatar of Yourtime
    Comment by Yourtime
    06:42 29/03/2011 # ! Neutral (0)

    totally agree o_o" and you can't stop it really.. it's like ban christs.

    Comment by Anonymous
    09:02 29/03/2011 # ! Neutral (0)

    they can try

    Avatar of Solru
    Comment by Solru
    05:51 29/03/2011 # ! Quality (+1.0)

    Ironic how Hayate no Gotoku start off famous by having a bunch of parodies maybe they should sue him now?

    Comment by Anonymous
    08:17 29/03/2011 # ! Neutral (+0.4)

    It's not the author's fault, it's the damn publishers'.

    Comment by Anonymous
    08:41 29/03/2011 # ! Neutral (0)

    Someone needs to get the publishers responsible as well. There are too many crap adaptions out there. They don't have a shred of professional dignity.

    Comment by Wisteria Berlitz
    18:09 29/03/2011 # ! Neutral (0)

    yea,the irony

    Comment by Anonymous
    10:02 29/03/2011 # ! Neutral (0)

    The publishers are too damned stupid to realize that the harder you fight it, the worse it makes it for you. They'd be better off supporting fan art than trying to fight it. I see so many companies trying to crack down on pirates and copyright infringers that spend more money fighting them than they do supporting them. And if they are successful in fighting them for something like this, their fans boycott them. I spose you can't tell a bunch of idiots their wrong though, just cause they've "been in the business".

    Avatar of The REAL Lamberto
    Comment by The REAL Lamberto
    04:58 29/03/2011 # ! Quality (+0.8)

    Ah great, don't tell me Shogakukan is gonna bow down before Ishihara.

    Avatar of Marine-RX179
    Comment by Marine-RX179
    15:47 29/03/2011 # ! Neutral (0)

    Bow before Eat-shit-hara? Not just that, it sounds more like they are BLOWING him.

    Comment by Anonymous
    10:52 29/03/2011 # ! Neutral (0)

    Sing it with me!~~~~
    It's the End of the World as we know it!
    the End of the Woorld as we Knew it!!!
    Burn and die from intestinal worms iSHITgaru, preferably both at the same time for what you've begun ya paper raping Ass!

    Avatar of Pyrolight
    Comment by Pyrolight
    06:30 29/03/2011 # ! Good (+0.7)

    Just when you think Japan cannot get stupider with regards to copyrights.

    It's like China is taking over Japan or something.

    Comment by Anonymous
    06:34 29/03/2011 # ! Quality (+1.0)

    You mean US? Because China couldn't give 2 shits about this kind of thing, while America is home to the sue happy trolls.

    Comment by Anonymous
    22:13 29/03/2011 # ! Neutral (0)

    Notice how we just ignore these declarations too. Or sue everyone blindly.

    Comment by Anonymous
    03:48 26/06/2013 # ! Neutral (0)

    I can just picture it. The police run in and arrest a guy in a costume at a convention and everyone is dumbfounded.

    It would then go to court and the company would lose and would have made a mockery of themselves.

    Comment by Anonymous
    23:11 29/03/2011 # ! Neutral (0)

    Does it include cosplay?

    Comment by Anonymous
    05:52 29/03/2011 # ! Good (+0.6)

    Further proof that many of the higher-ups in Japan's anime industry are unfit for their jobs and seemingly hate money. No wonder Japan's economy is in the toilet; their politicians and managers have absolutely no idea how to function and/or prosper in today's world.

    Avatar of alex251
    Comment by alex251
    07:08 29/03/2011 # ! Neutral (0)

    they had never an idea...

    Comment by Anonymous
    09:28 29/03/2011 # ! Neutral (+0.2)

    pretty much.

    its been a longtime criticism of the Japanese business culture that they don't promote people with actual leadership ability to drive industry.
    they simply bump up based on seniority and with a pretty implicit order to "stay the course".

    this works fine when business is going good, but as we have seen the last few years with changes in the way media is published throughout the world, game development, even government handling of a crisis; once shit hits the fan and things start uncontrollably diverging from the status quo, Japanese business and political leaders are seemingly clueless as to what to do.

    they were never hired to actually lead or create, simply to keep an eye on what already existed.

    Avatar of 美しい音
    Comment by 美しい音
    15:44 29/03/2011 # ! Good (+0.6)

    The moment you start issuing complaints and regulations towards your own consumers, you die as a publisher.

    Comment by Anonymous
    05:34 29/03/2011 # ! Good (+0.6)

    Plot summaries are banned? Haha what.

    Comment by Anonymous
    08:26 29/03/2011 # ! Good (+0.6)

    "**Throat-clearing sounds**... hello? This is Shogakukan speaking. We do not want fans. buy our things and be silent and unproductive. yes. Passive consumers are what we want. That is all.

    Also, we are watching you."

    Comment by Anonymous
    11:00 29/03/2011 # ! Good (+0.6)

    Yeah, uh, good luck with that Shogakukan..

    Avatar of encoje
    Comment by encoje
    08:45 29/03/2011 # ! Good (+0.6)

    What we SHOULD do is return the favor. If they don't want to be in the in the public eye, then give them what they want. Completely and totally boycott that publishing house and any establishments that stand up to be counted with them. Don't look, don't buy, don't read. Ignoring this single spoiled child will set an example for the rest. It is literally as easy as doing nothing. The people have the control, NOT the corporations.

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