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: