Will the TPP kill Japan’s doujinshi scene?

Comic Market 83 at Tokyo Big Sight, December 2012
Comic Market 83 at Tokyo Big Sight, December 2012

1. Summary

TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership) is a trade agreement currently being negotiated between USA, Japan and some other countries.

There are worries that the US will impose harder copyright laws on Japan, which might threaten subcultural expressions in the copyright grayzone, such as doujinshi and cosplay.

Today in Japan, copyright holders acknowledge these expressions as legitimate. It’s up to the copyright holder to press charges.

This might change.

Depending on how the final version of TPP will look, it might not be possible for copyright holders to accept these expressions – they would be illegal even if the copyright holder doesn’t mind. Even if the copyright holder appreciates and encourages that people make derivative works of his or her characters, it would still be illegal to do so.

If this law change would occur, it would probably kill the doujinshi scene, or force it underground.

Today doujinshi and cosplay is a huge subculture phenomenon; the biggest event, Comic Market, attracted 520 000 visitors last year to Tokyo Big Sight, the city’s major fair venue.

The negotiations continue.

2. My comment

This comes as no surprise. The doujinshi scene is under fire both for violating Western copyright laws and for violating Western bans on comics that are categorised as child porn. With Japan needing to present a good image for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, there is a risk that they will cave in to Western demands.

3. Further reading

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