The Japanese Government Could Change Cosplay Forever

The Japanese Government Could Change Cosplay Forever
Photo: ROSLAN RAHMAN / Contributor, Getty Images

Currently, anyone in Japan is free to dress as their favourite characters. That will continue, most likely, but there might be big changes for those who make money from cosplaying — and possibly, even for those who don’t.

As writer and translator Matt Alt points out, the Japanese government is currently considering changing the country’s copyright laws, so that professional cosplayers would pay for use of characters. 

Cosplay can be big business. Japan’s most successful professional cosplay Enako (pictured) has made over $US90,000 ($116,622) a month from public appearances, merchandise, photobooks, chat sessions, and endorsements. Other cosplayers also earn cash for selling photos or clips of them dressed as famous characters. Creators don’t currently get a cut, and the amendment would rectify this. Moreover, it’s set that a standardised set of rules would help avoid any trouble with creators.

According to Kyodo News, Japanese copyright law is unclear but points out that cosplay done without a profit motive is not infringement. So, for many cosplayers in Japan, things will probably not change. However, Kyodo News adds that even uploading cosplay photos to social networking sites like Instagram could be copyright infringement. If so, the effects would be felt throughout the cosplay community.

On Twitter (via SoraNews), Enako discussed the issue, explaining that when she goes on television or appears at paid events, she dresses as original characters to avoid copyright infringement. Moreover, she adds that she also gets permission when she cosplays as characters created by others

Enako, who is a Cool Japan ambassador, has discussed the possible changes with the Japanese government but wrote that she had not heard that uploading cosplay photos to social-networking sites could violate copyright. 

“I’m not in a position to give an offhanded statement,” Enako tweeted, “but for me personally, I truly hope that the non-profit activities of fans won’t be regulated on social-networking sites.” 


  • Seems like a great step… If you’re aiming for a society where nobody wears anything but generic, colourless clothing out of fear of a fucking lawsuit being filed against them because they went outside and some idiot said they were copying X character.

  • Japan’s copyright laws are idiotic, but given how corrupt and equally idiotic their governments have been in successive years, it’s got more to do with them frantically pretending that their rampant corruption problems don’t exist more than anything else. Instead of addressing real problems like their inability to do a job without prolific cronyism and embezzlement of funds, they focus on non-issues like these to conceal what a piss poor job they’ve been doing in every other societal area for decades.

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