Illustrator Urasora has been the subject of an investigation by 2ch, which found him guilty of egregious tracing. Rather than face 2ch’s wrath, he opted to retire from the business…
The images which led to the fiasco:
He regretfully explains his actions (in typically overblown Japanese style):
Maybe you know, but the things I have done have become an issue in a number of places. I searched for images online and traced what I found when drawing small objects in my pictures. I realise now this was a gross violation of copyright. I even made excuses. In truth, this was all utterly inexcusable.
I have been harshly criticised, and I solemnly accept the criticisms made. Henceforth, I will take the liberty of refraining from further work. I am afraid I will have to refuse any offers of commercial work, though I will have to finish such work as is outstanding. After that, I will take an indefinite break. I beg your forgiveness for all the trouble I caused.
I am deeply, deeply, repentant.
In case you were scratching your head, nobody on 2ch has heard of him either (save the ones who obsessively dissected his illustrations in order to have something to hound him with).
He has done illustration work for a number of low profile light novels, eroge and similar, so it is fair to call him a low level illustrator.
He also reports closing his Pixiv account, although since Pixiv is already full of (often very beautifully) traced photographs, to say nothing of huge numbers of copyrighted characters used in an unauthorised fashion, it is unlikely anyone there cares.
The strong reaction both from the artist and the more aggressive elements of 2ch has sparked much debate, with nobody able to agree on the level of “tracing” or “reference” allowable.
Many consider the reaction of both Urasora and 2ch to be overblown, pointing out that using photographs, with or without explicit permission, is part of the industry and of the process of learning how to illustrate, and that expecting artists to use live subjects or bought photographs would drastically increase the costs involved and be quite unworkable.
It is also easy to see why some might find fault with the notion that making a drawing of a photograph constitutes copyright infringement, though clearly the ethical implications of tracing another drawn work are rather more hazy.
Whatever Urasora’s reaction, it is clear there are some much more prominent artists who will not be retiring over something like this any time soon…
Aoi Nishimata seems to have traced a sweet little bird in this illustration, which shifted tonnes of overpriced rice to otaku desperate to put it in their rooms. Certainly easier than hunting one down in the field.