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Kodansha Publishes Creative Commons Manga Online


Major manga publisher Kodansha have begun free online distribution of a manga under the terms of the Creative Commons license, a first. Kodansha’s CC terms stipulate free reproduction of the title as long as it is “non-commercial”, unchanged and maintains attribution – they are even encouraging blogs to reproduce the title.

The manga in question is a new title, みかこさん / Mikako-san, by lady mangaka 今日マチ子 / Kyou Machiko, who has a number of works to her name, including online comics; she is not by any stretch a major author, though does have some awards and and plenty of publications to her credit.

Certainly more important than the actual title being so licensed are the implications of this decision. Is this reflective of a new approach to copyright by the publisher, in tune with the increasing scepticism of “a culture in which creators get to create only with the permission of the powerful, or of creators from the past”, as CC founder Lawerence Lessig would have it?

Or perhaps a desire to experiment with new distribution models for manga and other such publications?

You can forget about that; Kodansha freely admits: “Those who are introduced to, and read and like this work [will hopefully] spread word of the work across the Internet.”

So just a marketing ploy, then? It seems unlikely to have any significant future without some form of revenue generation potential.

Perhaps much more significant is the gradual formalisation of the relationship between publishers and creators of derivative works, although this is clearly not accepted by the more conservative old media enterprises.

Let us gamely reproduce issue 1 below anyway:


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      • Translation is one of the exclusive rights associated with copyright laws and cc-by-nc-nd-2.1jp explicitly excludes permission for translations. That the translation is displayed over the original image makes no difference as you may not distribute a translation in the first place.

        • Billy Herrington says:

          Well I remember months ago on Creative Commons articles was on Advance Photoshop/CG Magazine. It was something about plagiarism on flash site and another site on another continent that’s is exactly 100% and with a few changes, the one who plagiarize won some reward for design got some money, and took academic credit(prestige) for it. To me you know how government treats artist, they treat em like shit, and plus TOUCHY on international affairs. Creative commons to me is like Steel labors union, it’s to protect the artist. Just how does the steel labor unions formed and held together? It’s the same way as Creative Commons. It just help protect the workers, to help protect the artist. Creative Commons is a “non-profit” organization as addressed. And copyright between international boundaries as well language barrier, it appears they really get things done quick. Than if you were to go Copyright suit alone. On ” how to photoshop/graphic” magazine, they portrayed Creative Commons seems favorable to them. Alot of the western artist seem on the bandwagon for Creative Commons. Since in compare VFX artist-wise get $30,000 more in salaries in the US than compare to Japan salaries, according to 3D World magazine. So I think if you are an actually artist you would side with them.

          I think in the longer run it’s to combat censorship in Japan. If Creative Commons picks up more strength, have a better footing in the east. Censorship in an another way in Japan is to JUST NOT PUBLISH YOU AT ALL. Even if you are good with, art,story, and ideas. I think Creative Commons is on the artist side, than to Marketing and Publishers. We should be supporting the artists more.

          Japan’s #1 Hero against censorship: ?

          Iono seems like people always assume that artist have alot of time on their hands searching and policing their own artwork. They don’t. So wasting their time fighting at court, than to passionately draw or other art project, and support a family,well you get the point. Artists don’t have alot of time.

        • I see – I was thinking it tied to the bits rather than the content.

          In that case, a useless (sub-)license which contains nothing which couldn’t be accomplished with normal copyright. Reading the full thing, all it allows is reproducing the source. Hardly “creative” or “common”, and it seems disingenuous to include such restrictive terms in what is supposedly a liberal license.

          Whatever the case, it seems unlikely many users of this license are actually going to have enough money to enforce the provisions…