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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  • This isn’t a lawsuit, because there is NO PROOF. I did go to Shogakukan Website and it did say they CAN sue but it doesn’t say that they ARE suing.

    Whomever is responsible for this obviously hates all the anime’s Shogakukan publishes manga for, and just wants to scare us anime fanartists off sites like deviantART.

    Until I see proof, this will be nothing but a HOAX.

  • Shit. I’ve wanted to make Inuyasha doujinshi for a long while now…shit. D: But this law doesn’t quite make sense. Hell, the authors under this publication are probably like ‘What the hell.’ as well. I’m actually surprised that “Kyoukai No Rinne” isn’t on the wikipedia page of titles that Shogakukan doesn’t control. Excuse my ignorance, but didn’t the change of the spine of many spines by Viz that changed to “S” feel kind of suspicious?

    And why did the Author of Hayate consult the publishing company of “concerns” that resulted in this copyright law? I feel so enraged. Something needs to happen soon. Anyways, I’m going to continue contributing fanart into the online community anyways. Are they going to sue over a million people for simply making fanart?

  • Posting pictures, in whole or in part, of the binding or pages of our publication = bye bye manga scans. Although I DO buy or plan to buy majority of my digital collection

    Posting the contents or tables of contents of our publications = i don’t understand how this helps the publisher or the mangaka

    Posting plot summaries or derivative stories and similar based on our publications = sooo, don’t review our manga? Are they idiots?

    Posting pictures or photographs, in whole or in part, of our characters = I don’t understand how this can be turned against them…

    Posting your own pictures (illustrations or parodies, etc.) of our characters = bye bye pixiv and comiket. I mean, I understand sorta the feeling of your characters being the subject of sexual material (since if I have a character I made turned into a sex object, I would probably not like it). Good thing I don’t draw anymore

    Modifying our characters (including your own images) or publications for use in software, icons, wallpapers. etc. = good luck on the icons and wallpapers… Seriously….

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

    in summary; if you people in Japan think this is idiotic, I would suggest you fight it, since I think some of these rules are REALLY idiotic

  • Regardless of how recently they tried to ban fan art, they still are insolent bastards for thinking they can just treat people like their slaves. Trying to prohibit everyone drawing character just because they own a copyright. Someone have to see the idiocy of it.

    • The law is just like this:
      Under 20’s drink alcohol regardless banned.

      OK? This is unworked law. Though there is, they don’t work.
      But, often those are punished.

      First, originally, Fanworks has been banned by laws.
      MAD on niconico, Fanarts on pixiv, picture on, those are originally should be banned.
      But, because those work as ads and there are so many Fanarts,
      people has rights never use that rights.

      This is “Unwritten law” about animes in Japan.
      Fanarts is instability.

      Perhaps you think PIRACY IS NATURAL.
      I don’t say you are thief like 2ch, but you should confirm Copyright.

      • I see. Well, I’m glad that it is not that severe just yet. Anyway, my point that copyright laws are outdated still stands. They may have been created to protect authors, but over time changed to suit the needs of publishers. I’m not necessary talking about Japanese laws specifically here.

        Just an example. Not so long ago in Russia there was a law passed, that made a “compensation” of 1% compulsory when buying a data storage device. I’ll explain. It is “assumed”, that everyone buying a storage device will use it to share copyrighted material. So to cover that “assumed” losses of publishers, customers pay 1% more for the device. Note that copying of protected material is still illegal, so basically the law was created under the assumption, that every person buying a storage device is, in fact, a criminal. Do you see how presumption of innocence is blatantly disregarded? Russia is not exactly famous for its respect of human rights and it is a bit of an extreme case, but still. Not to mention that this law allows publishers to rake in profits just by “virtue” of existence and holding a copyright to something.

      • If the author himself encourages fan-art, fanarts are never banned.
        This law was created in order to protect author’s right,
        so only when author want to ban fanarts were banned.
        Originally, people has rights are AUTHOR, NOT PUBLISHER,
        so only publisher can’t ban fanarts.

        And, I read well this law yesterday, I found there are too many mistranslation in this article.
        If I can say only conclusion,

        “Fanarts are never banned”

        Let’s explain. But I’m not good at English, so I explain with Japanese.

        First, this article misunderstand 二次利用 and 二次創作
        The former one is Second-Use, this is banned thing.
        Second-Use is selling things with copyrighted things.
        For example, you sell candy with pikachu illustration without permission of Nintendo.
        The latter one is Second-Creation, this is not banned and misunderstanding.
        Second-Creation is Fanarts, doujin works, and etc…

        Second,「許可しない」「場合によっては差し止める」is not「禁止」
        The former is “Not permitted” “Stop in special case”
        The latter is “banning” “prohibiting”
        I’m not good at English and can’t explain differences in detail,
        but I hope you understand those words are DIFFERENCE WORDS.

      • Just think about it for a second. If the author himself encourages fan-art, then why it should matter what some middleman (publisher) thinks? In the long run the idiocy of publisher is going to affect mangaka’s profits negatively, and that is by no means a good practice. Author should have control over his creation. Not some publisher.

        Also, as long as I am not going to use my creations commercially, it should not matter what they a based on. It is my right to draw whatever I please or post plot summaries and everyone who thinks differently can go suck a big cocksicle.

        I do not say “break the law”. I say “change it”. The current copyright laws are not only outdated as hell, they also favour publishers over actual authors heavily.
        On a side note, I am a member of Pirate Party, so you could say I think “PIRACY IS NATURAL”. You should educate yourself a bit and you’ll see that the law could be greatly improved.

  • ah well.. i guess i better savour it while it’s there. who knows, maybe next few years i could get arrested for owning a figma that was sold last year. seriously, this copyright law sucks. just hunt for the websites that’s charging for free doujins. don’t ban these things since it’s part of the popularity. you wouldn’t made it this far without it anyway. ingrates…

  • I would like to say, these rules have been laid out for over 10 years by Shogakugan already, but this is the ‘first time’ Kenjiro Hata has heard of this, that is the reason why he expressed anger about it.

  • Hypocrites!

    Many of their own authors started with doujishi (and still publish on the side).

    Where do they think young mankakas get their initial training?

    Talk about committing sepuku.

    It’s the equivalent to the anime industry shipping inbetweening offshore and loosing that training ground for new animators. That has led to a large loss of talent in Japan. This will do the same.

    Sadly, Comiket will probably go along with the ban and soon it won’t need the Tokyo Big Site.

    How stupid are these executives?

  • Seriously?! This is just going to piss off all the fans! Surely the creators don’t have this attitude?! Why don’t they just go ahead and say people aren’t allowed to read their publications altogether?

  • “Ow yeah, those pesky guys at wikipedia and reviewers are going DOWN for daring to talk about our plots!”

    Seriously? how does “Posting the contents or tables of contents of our publications.” helps in keeping the material safe?

    They have to consider how many mangas/anime are actually “discovered” from the dojinshi.

  • “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.”

    In other words, fans should put all those series and stuff from Shogakugan into oblivion and pretend they never exist aside inside anything published from them, eh? Too bad they didn’t learn how Touhou became a major phenomenon. This is getting as stupid as the artwork moderation in Deviantart.

  • 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.

  • Japan’s been spiralling into a perfect storm of suck all year…

    Ah well, shrivel and die, Shogakukan. I’m sure between Kadokawa and Kodansha, your good properties will be scooped up and people will be allowed to talk about them again. (Intranets? Seriously?)

  • Oh?

    Maybe they need a rude awakening about how their fucking economy is on its way out and Japan desperately needs income.
    You know, it’s funny how the old farts that run that country continue to fuck around with everything that might prove positive for their economy.

  • “**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.”

  • This is a bad move for that publisher. If the Japanese fans aren’t as spineless as we all believe, I’m predicting a explosion of doujins and illustrations just to spite them. Just like that picture of their homepage right up there.

  • I love how those guidelines even ban freaking fan fiction off Shogakukan works.

    Then again, guidelines like these could have saved us from billions of bad Harry Potter, Twilight, Shonen Ai an fictions, so just maybe…

    Frankly, this won`t affect anyone at all, since they can only lose money if they actually bug people about it and if they don`t it`s basically a ridiculous storm in a waterglass people will simply ignore. Or still be angry by principle and boycott their stuff a bit.

    Stupid move if I`ve ever seen one.
    And frankly, Hayate`s parody eastereggs were the main reason I watched some of it, so that this is their poster child for their ban is kinda ridiculous when that work is filled with it itself.

    Are we sure those reactors weren`t radiating people`s brains for years already, starting with Ishihara and now Shogakukan?

    • Publishers don’t want new mangaka. They want you to keep buying from the same old mangaka which they own. New people are scary to them because they can use the internet to distribute their own works.
      Do you even know what that means? The publisher won’t get their rightfully deserved checks for someone else’s hard work!

  • Should’t fans put in case of threats the rights of constitution, It works really well with individuals in when they do see the blind eye of the authorities, All they have to do is find the chapter and article of the constitution(the japanese constitution for example.) which makes references of their rights and needs,and paste it on their website, pages or account if any police or publisher threatens to make force.
    Trust me, It works wondersly for many people.

    P.S. Put it on against bill 156 as well!

  • jesus this is insane measures, sounds like it a lot to do with the mangka in this case as well. I am guessing this will also tackle and hentais based on characters along with the fan art. But removing the ability to discuss recent chapters on forums if thats true is insane.

    Like they seem to be so scared of progress that they doin everything they can to stop technology and progress this could damage them massively. This is tilting at windmills

    • You see how it does not really seem all that impossible for some random publisher to try and take away your right to draw whatever the fuck you please? They seem to think copyright overrides human rights. Mind-boggling.

    • Webbmaster62 says:

      He doesn’t. He twittered saying to continue doing fanart. But removed them afterwards. Might be to not lose his bearings with the company. I idk…but it seems the authors are not agreeing with this.

  • 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.

    • 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.

    • 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.

  • Is this policy a recent thing, or did Hata just notice it?

    Regardless, absolutely ridiculous. I imagine that Shogakukan won’t try to sue anyone and everyone, but will use something like this as ammo when they suddenly don’t like a particular doujinshi. But really, oh my God.

    They should look at what happened in the west with this. Whenever a company tries to stop derivative works, it turns into a bloodbath.

  • Here’s the ironic part: You’ve posted a portion of the website in this newspost. You’ve also reproduced the rules they’re claiming, which are.. uh.. posted on the website. Yeah, that’s gonna stick.

  • We should protest this, by breaking every single one of these stupid copyright rules. We need to teach those assholes we won’t take this up the ass and be their bitches. GIVE ME MY HAYATE NO GOTOKU DOUJINSHI NOW!

  • 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.

      • 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.

  • For what my limited artistic credit is worth, I would kill to have people create things based off my works. Video games, music, hentai, comics, whatever. And they should get their fair share- just because they didn’t come up with the original concept doesn’t mean they can’t do that at all.
    Art has ALWAYS had a firm and entrenched tradition of allowing works to be created based off ALL of creation, and allowed that artist to get their fair share for it. Freedom of speech extends past what is so-called copyright infringement. There is a place for copyright law, but it is not in this instance.

    I’m tempted to now create some Shogakukan derivative works in protest of their inane antics.

  • 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…

  • There, I’d love to see them sue me for posting a snip of code from their webpage! Oh, dang, I guess they can already sue each and every one of us for writing their name! After all, it is on their webpage!

    • Any sane person will steer clear of Japanese politics, that’s why. Also I guess, even if someone wanted to create one, old-timers wouldn’t allow it, since any actually decent party might just wipe all that old-ass scum of the arena)

  • Really? Just really? Where in blue blazes do these stupid decisions come from? No seriously…

    Fact is doujins, fanworks/art, parodies and satire has proved one thing. It helps market your product, hell even piracy has proven to be a good advertiser for products. How does beating fans with a electric baton for promoting your product to a wider audience benefit the publisher in anyway?

    Was there any official statement as to why? Though I’ve a number possibilities. This still seems like overkill.

  • They aren’t willing or able to compete in this digital age where there will be an obvious move towards electronic forms of distribution so they’re abusing laws and regs to keep their ship afloat if only for a little longer. They’re trying to stop any internet otaku communities from forming/existing, thus limiting the ability of big internet (legal/illegal) distro’s from forming.

    Well, that’s my analysis. That + the obvious piracy blah blah, but that’s all bull. We all know that fan communities increases sales.

    Either way, the humerous fact is things like this will always just end with the entire industry evolving so that the demand will be met in some way or other. So I’m not that worried in the long run + Korea’s been popping out some decent manga lately (they also have a vibrant internet community from what i’ve heard so they have no barriers to change).

    Shame though, I was hoping for some more Luca Suirenji fanart.

  • I can understand their point of view if they simply wanted to get rid of doujinshi or any other type of exploitation of their characters but this crosses over to not letting people express themselves as well intentioned fans in any way. If Shogakukan wants it this way, the consumers should not pay them any regard at all starting at not purchasing their products.

  • Don’t the bean counters realize that fan art is based on admiration for their product?
    Alienating your fan base in tough economic times is not the way to financial solvency.
    If their publishing empire tanks they’ll be scratching their heads and wondering why. Stupid.

    • With all the porn parodies I’ve seen like “Edward Penishands” and “Bareback Mountain” in the USA, I could not agree more…

      Why can’t they see that what they are doing is sitting on a dangerously faulty chair ready to explode metal shrapnels up their draconic ass..?

  • The Japanese will do what they’ve always done to get around censorship.

    They will put small black bars over certain parts when showing them, and replace characters in their names with circles when referencing them.

  • Either Ishy is contagious, or worse, he’s not unique and there are more out there incapable of comprehending the harm they are inspiring.

    I can understand the intent of the laws, but it doesn’t make the laws, bright or any friend of the industry.

    That, and I wish them luck preventing people from creating fan inspired derivatives and sharing them on the internet. Seeing as they can’t seem to impede people sharing the original content either.

  • Hhhmmmmmmmmm….

    How can they ever enact such a ban?
    What about original characters that look similar to Shogakukan’s?
    Heck, even characters from different series tend to be similar at times.

    What utter silly nonsense.

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

    Is it also illegal to cosplay the character? I mean if you took a picture of yourself cosplaying, doesn’t that count as having a photograph of the character?

    • Cosplay is safe, at least in North America. It is too common for people to dress-up in there favorite characters, people even impersonate officials including Police, Fire, Politicians and so on. As long as your are not “actually” trying to be someone your not.

      As for the pictures themselves, they are solely the ownership of the photographer; unless commissioned or contract with the model and/or company. Basically Shogakukan wouldn’t be able to take them down, nor would I doubt they even try too.

    • Shippoyasha says:

      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.

        • Anonymous says:

          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.

        • 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.

        • @ 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.

        • 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.

        • HouseLife

          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.

    • They can actually, the anime that flows over here is done via uploaders in Japan. If they stop, we stop, all the true western fans of anime could in fact be wiped out, just like Google could continue their ‘child porn’ thing and then we’d have no more loli.
      Our community is actually very delicate, some high up company could say ‘All this is copyright infringement’ and be able shut down sites like watchanimeon and others with no second thought.

  • It seems the radioactive cloud has finally reached the Shogakukan headquarters and caused mutations in the brains of those in power, leading them to this fucked up decision. Either that, or they were all hit in the head with a stupid stick…