The Melancholy of Wildarmsheero

Wah told you once, he told you twice: his boyfriend’s back and now you’re gonna be in trouble.

Hey lie, hey lie . . .

Hey lie, hey lie . . .

I viewed WAH’s rants with some consternation, as I personally have been screamed at once by a random passerby for failing to fully credit a photoshopped Touhou wallpaper.  In my defense, hours of searching turned up nothing, so I just credited ZUN, who owns all the Touhou intellectual property anyway.  I just couldn’t understand the apoplectic rage the anonymous commenter had for me then – did he not realize that I tried looking?  Did he not realize that this was the best I could do at the time?  What did he want from me?

What is to be expected here, anyhow?

In terms of intellectual property, I would suggest that originality matters. Original art deserves to be credited, but suppose someone took a screenshot and applied a border, or simply shopped out a logo. Do we need to spend 20 hours searching for whoever did 5 minutes worth of work to try and credit them? Or can we agree that some unoriginal changes don’t warrant spending huge amounts of time searching to credit?  The real work was done by the animation team, and the character designers, and they’ve been credited.

Take it a step further: suppose someone has simply shopped a character out of one screenshot and into another – a basic cut-and-paste. JP suggests that context is what makes artwork, so does that new context make it an original work? And who gets the credit when there’s a long string of edits made to several screenshots which are then merged, with a new background applied from God knows where? The last one who edited? All of them? Is there even a reasonable way to expect someone to recognize where some generic clouds-and-blue-sky background comes from?

All this is not some sort of ass-backwards way to justify never crediting anybody, but rather, a way of putting it in perspective.  Jason Miao has talked before about how there is a certain amount of time that anime bloggers have, and it either gets spent on watching anime, or running a website.  There is a point of diminishing returns beyond which nobody profits.  Where exactly that point is – twenty minutes, one hour, ten hours – maybe nobody can agree on, but the concept that it is sometimes impractical to credit a certain piece of fan artwork to every last person involved in its creation should not be foreign to anybody.

Of course, as rabbitpoets and Mari Kurisato point out, artists could just sign things.  I mean, it would help. I find it interesting that CNN utterly fails to properly credit fully original artists, but many people (or perhaps a few very loud people) think it fair to demand similarly high standards for use of fanart by anime bloggers, the vast majority of which are not professional journalists.

Published in: on August 7, 2009 at 7:01 PM  Comments (3)  
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3 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. This is, more or less, the issue that Shepard Fairey is facing in his battle with the AP.

    • Indeed – Shepard Fairey is known in certain art circles for his appropriation of the drawing in many of his most famous works from other artists. This is exactly the recontextualization I talked about in the 5th paragraph.

  2. I wasn’t even talking about shitty edits of official artwork. You should never use those anyway. Unless it’s as a joke.

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