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Artist Alley Announcement Regarding Fan Art

Posted February 1, 2016

Dear Kumoricon artists,

As you may have heard from discussion in the nationwide convention community, there's been a lot of attention recently to issues of copyright and trademark in Artist Alley spaces. Kumoricon, as many other anime conventions, is affected by this, and we'd like to communicate what this means to our artists.

First off, we are happy to say that in many cases we will continue to allow fan art within our Artist Alley. Fan art is a long-standing tradition within anime conventions and many other communities in which artists draw their own renditions of characters from industry-produced anime, manga, and other sources. We're happy that many of our artists will be able to continue exhibiting their fan art nearly exactly as they have been doing for years.

However, due to some recent guidance communicated from within the industry, Kumoricon will need to tighten its enforcement of issues relating to trademarks, and this will affect some of our artists. This tightened enforcement around trademarks, in most cases, affects names and logos when they appear within, or even next to, fan art. Kumoricon will not be able to allow booths exhibiting fan art to use the names or logos of the series of the derived art in connection with those art pieces, as titles, descriptions, or in signage elsewhere in the booth. This can also sometimes affect the art itself. Some examples of this are Corps logos and badges from Attack on Titan, the "Mario" title and "M" and "L" insignias in their native font, or the Horde/Alliance symbols from World of Warcraft.

In following this path of continuing to allow fan art but tightening our enforcement around trademarks, Kumoricon will be following the guidance provided by FUNimation, a major American licensor of anime properties, as well as guidance from many other sources in the industry and the community, and we believe we will be following a very similar path as many other American anime conventions.

Why this change? Earlier this year, FUNimation released a public letter to the anime convention community clarifying its stance on fan art. This letter is publicly available in full. This letter provided some important guidance in that it praised fan art, but drew a distinction between copyright and trademark enforcement.

Kumoricon must also be mindful of the policies of companies within different industries. In some cases, some of the recent industry and community guidance we have received will impact fan art based on properties from certain companies even if it does not display trademarked names or logos, and unfortunately some artists will be affected by this. This tends to particularly be the case for properties from sources outside of Japan. If you have concerns about this, please contact us at artists@kumoricon.org and we may be able to provide more specific assistance.

Thank you,
The Kumoricon Team