A man has been arrested for selling nude figures of One Piece’s buxom pirate princess Nami, being charged with copyright infringement for not obtaining Toei’s permission to sell the racy items.
The case centres on the auction of so-called “ma-kaizou figures” (魔改造フィギュア), figures which have been modified after sale, usually to enhance their erotic appeal.
Chiba cyber-crime investigators found a 33-year-old unemployed Tokyo man had sold 3 modified One Piece figures depicting Nami in erotic situations to men in Nara and elsewhere via an online auction site, with proceeds totalling ¥40,000 ($500).
Some likely examples of his work (for some reason police have not released photographs of the offending articles):
They charged him with criminal copyright infringement as he had not obtained the permission of copyright holders Toei Animation to sell the figures.
Police claim there is chance he was importing figures in quantity from China and are investigating further, after confiscating 50 “pirate” figures of various female One Piece characters from his home after raiding it, and suspect his total sales may be in the region of ¥1,000,000.
He denies the charges, saying “I obtained permission to sell them from the makers in China. I thought they were official products.”
Toei also launched a similar case against modified Kamen Rider figures previously, although this is the first time One Piece has been targeted.
Online there is much concern about what such liberal use of copyright law might mean for the doujinshi market, to say nothing of what it implies for anyone who resells a modified version of a product without the copyright holder’s permission:
“You can be arrested for something like this!?”
“I suppose they are going to arrest everyone at Comiket next then?”
“So doujinshi are OK but figures are NG?”
“Selling completed kits is presumably illegal as well then…”
“If this is out then ero-doujinshi are going to be annihilated. Pushing copyright this broadly is totally reckless – so modifying a car you bought and then reselling it is an illegal breach of copyright as well?”
“As usual, they completely ignore pachinko and benefits fraud…”
“Is it certain this case was to do with the mods and not the fact he was apparently importing them from China?”
“Leave him be, it is not like he was mass manufacturing them. Pressing copyright claims like this only impedes cultural growth!”
“So it’s illegal to buy a product, add value to it, and then resell it to a third party without the original seller’s permission? Or is this just because they didn’t like it being erotic? In which case this could wipe out the doujinshi field.”