I am making this post because I am of the opinion that if you want people to support your cause, you shouldn’t insult their intelligence. The cause being brought to attention here is OFP – Online Fanart Protection. Basically, the gist is that Japanese artists don’t like how American bloggers use their images in posts without permission or accreditation. I support the movement for accreditation, but only within the boundaries of reason.
The first person to bring this up in the last 24 hours was Wildarmsheero of Mistakes of Youth. He puts forth that the Japanese desperately want us to seek their permission to use their fanarts, or at least accredit them. WAH of course adds his own dosages of racism and assholery to the discussion, but the cause is noble enough. However, what WAH and the artists who crated OFP need to firmly realize is that it’s only mildly possible for even those of us who know about OFP to do anything about it.
Hinano only makes matters worse by being a total bitch about it and either missing or choosing not to acknowledge the bigger picture behind the misuse of fanart. Fanart is misused a lot, sure. As Hinano points out in her comments on her own post, some people trace the works of Japanese artists and claim them as their own, which is wholly despicable. However, this is an individual case, and grouping people who do stuff like that together with the likes of bloggers is just silly.
The ‘problem’ isn’t that, as Hinano thinks, people don’t care about the Japanese artist or accreditation and will do as they please. Nothing so malicious is going on in these blog posts. If there’s a problem, it’s that no one even knows that this is a problem. Your average blogger probably never even gave a second thought to using fanart or realized that it would piss off the creator. So in that regard, I support the idea of spreading the word. I think it’s great that they are trying to inform bloggers that people out there don’t like their fanart being mistreated, and I’m sure that the kind people who get the message will do everything in their power to honor the artists’ wishes. Which brings me to my first point: Don’t be such a fucking asshole about this. You are asking people for their time and effort in respecting your wishes – why are you going to insult their intelligence?
And yes, this is entirely YOU asking US for work. This is not something we actually have to feel obligated to do. Contrary to the beliefs of some, there is nothing illegal about using images and not accrediting them, especially not fan art. To quote Omo in WAH’s commentary:
I think OFP is the laughing stock of the internets. Also, as someone just said, fanart are copyright violations as well unless they’ve gotten permission from the rights holders. I think for the average internet guy, it’s safe to ignore both of these simply because they’re so powerless and irrelevant today.
Taking without attribution generally is where the bad blood flows. It’s not always possible, as digitalboy says, but it’s definitely a nice thing to go that extra mile and link to someone’s pixiv or homepage, no matter where you find a picture.
Also I just want to say that fair use defense can apply (in the US) even if you do not accredit, but it depends on the specifics of the case. There are not many categorical rules when it comes to determining fair use. Also, take legal advices from non-lawyers (and lawyers!) at your own risk.
But that’s just the beginning. I think it’s important to consider how you use fanart on your site:
1. is it part of your attractive site design? Yes? Accredit and I’d even say go and ask for permission first. Why? Because it’s a part of your site’s identity, and if you run ads, it directly affects that. Making money with other people’s fanart is a sure fire way to rub them the wrong way. It’s not about legality but about being a good fan, or whatever WAH hangs his e-penis on. Once someone drags “law” into this discussion, that someone fails IMO.
2. is it just like an OP image? Accredit is probably the most you can do. If you go further and crop and use only a part of it? Even better. The less “taking” the better.
3. always, IMO, follow requests to accredit or for take-downs. If there’s some reason that you can’t accredit or take something down, be very polite and discuss this even if the other person may talk like an asshole. Generally speaking people don’t go around and ask things to be taken down, and accreditation is just another word for link love, and link love is good for blogs.
4. And do likewise for other people who take your content, may it be words or pictures or whatever.
If you do all this, you’ll be fine.
In other words, if we do accredit images or ask for permission, it’s because we are being nice, and not because we have to. WAH at least takes care to say ‘it’s a matter of respect for your fellow fan’, but if you want respect, you can’t go disrespecting the people you expect it from. This is fucking communication 101.
So what can we do to help? Seek out the artist to the best of our abilities. But we can’t always be expected to go all the way – I think this much should be obvious. There are a lot of really stupid answers put forth by WAH and Hinano, like WAH suggesting that you should either know Japanese or find friends who understand it that can help you, or Hinano outright saying that ‘maybe if you don’t know Japanese you shouldn’t use Japanese fanart.’ I don’t think I need to tell you how stupid and unreasonable both of these suggestions are.
The biggest and easiest suggestion is simply to start using pixiv to find images instead of other sites, because on pixiv you will have the author right there. But even this is not an infallible suggestion. This still requires you to put in a lot of effort if you don’t understand Japanese into finding what you need. And even then, not EVERY piece of art is on pixiv, and not EVERY piece of fanart is guaranteed to even be Japanese.
Most of the images that are used here on Fuzakenna are from Photobucket. I just search the name of the show, find something that looks nice, and use it. The person who uploads a picture to photobucket not only is almost never the artist, but almost never knows who the artist is. There is plenty of American and Japanese fanart on there, and there is almost no way to trace it back to it’s roots. So I think it’s rather simple to suggest that if you do have an avenue to seek the artist’s name, do so, but you don’t absolutely have to without fail. Just do WHAT YOU CAN within the boundaries of reason. There is no way that all of us have the time and connections to always meet the requests of the Japanese artists, and we don’t have a moral or legal obligation to, anyway.
And as Rabbit Poets put it best, to Japanese artists: SIGN YOUR GODDAMN PICTURES! Then none of us would have this fucking problem! Then it won’t matter if people don’t have the means to find you, and we won’t have to make a feeble effort to spread the word about your overblown wishes, because your identity won’t be stolen in the first place!
It’s great that word is getting out, and bloggers like Anime^2, Moe for moe, and Cartoon Leap are spreading the message. But we shouldn’t expect absolutes, and we shouldn’t expect people to go above and beyond the call of duty. Do as much as you can to help accredit the artists, because it’s great to show respect to our fellow fans, but on’t feel bad if you can’t go all the way.
Update: Chikorita157 throws in support.
Update 2: Thoughtscream grinds this debate into powder.
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My Artist Highlight section seeks to inform the English speaking fandom of great Japanese artists.