Japanese Fan Comics Could Die Under New Trade Deal

Japanese Fan Comics Could Die Under New Trade Deal

“Doujinshi” (同人誌) is Japanese for fan-created, self-published comics, magazines, and novels. While Japan has strict copyright laws, doujinshi tend to get a free pass and flourish. A new trade agreement could change that forever.

Doujinshi is a proving ground for new artists, who can create a name for themselves through their self-published works and make the leap from amateur to pro. The country’s biggest geek event, Comiket, is centered around doujinshi. Fans line up to buy independently produced parodies of famous manga and starring popular characters.

Copyright holders typically turn a blind eye to doujinshi, knowing it’s where future manga artists often get their start. But under the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), that still might not stop the police from going after doujinshi creators for violating copyright law.

The TPP is a proposed trade deal with twelve countries possibly participating, including the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, the Philippines, Thailand, Australia, and Colombia, among others. China is currently not part of the TPP negotiations.

As The Yomiuri Shimbun explains, current Japanese copyright law dictates that violations can only be investigated once the copyright holder files a complaint. No complaint means no investigation.

TPP, however, aims to streamline the process so that the copyright holder does not have to file. A third party can report copyright violations. The reason, The Yomiuri Shimbun notes, is that U.S. companies often experience copyright violations and this TPP provision would combat those.

The rub is that by giving third parties the ability to report copyright violations, fans or rival doujinshi creators could start ratting people out to the authorities. See the below image, via The Yomiuri Shimbun:

According to The Yomiuri Shimbun, a person involved in the TPP negotiations said that the copyright provision will allow for a degree of parody.

“If creators can be prosecuted without complaints from rights holders, it could lead to some kind of snitching battle between fans,” said manga artist Ken Akamatsu, who started out in doujinshi. “Places for people to share their work will also disappear.”

Top photo: Keith Tsuji / Stringer | Getty


  • Hmm Im not sure about this article. I remember reading about this before and articles specifically mentioning how the new copyright laws had an exclusion for Doujinshi.

  • Oh well that’s just fantastic! Introduce a system as rife for abuse and misuse as youtube copyright claims but allow people unrelated to the copyright holder to abuse it just as hard. Brilliant!
    This is a terrible idea and it really does stand a good chance of doing the damage Akamatsu thinks it will.

  • I have a number of Doujin artists that I follow and it’d suck if they had to give up their livelyhood because of some tattle tail abusing the system cause they consider them a rival or dislike their work. Some of them are pretty awesome at their work and you can tell they have put a lot of time into refining it.

    Besides. If the Pixels debacle this week is any indication, as well as the whole deal surrounding ‘Candy’ and ‘Crush’ in games, copyright holders are far too aggressive to have MORE power given to them when they attack everything indiscriminately.

  • Yay, more evidence of corporate interests putting a dick in the ear of creative endeavour.

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