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Submitted on
May 1, 2012
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Does anyone know if selling fan arts is legal?

I know the practice is pretty common at anime conventions.
But what's the legality behind this stuff? I know that DeviantART won't allow you to make fan arts into prints.

If someone knowledgeable can explain this to me in simple terms, that would be superb.


On a related note, would anyone buy my fan arts if I was allowed to turn them into prints? :3
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:iconokidokistudios:
Now let me ask you this. Me and my friend are making a Pokémon doujin with all the Kanto Gym Leaders gender reversed and featuring a love story between Syrus (Sabrina) and his Abra. Now are we allowed to sell the doujin? And if not are we allowed to at least post it online or give copies of the comics away at conventions for free? And plus I wish to make a movie out of the doujin with music from the hg/ss video games. Onlly two songs pieces will be added with Japanese lyrics. What is to be said about that really?
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:icondeidara44:
well.. how about..
for example.

" i copied your exact drawing/doujin, or copied your original character..LITERARY... Almost like, a carbon copy.. 
and i sell it."

how's that?
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:iconokidokistudios:
Now let me ask you this. Me and my friend are making a Pokémon doujin with all the Kanto Gym Leaders gender reversed and featuring a love story between Syrus (Sabrina) and his Abra. Now are we allowed to sell the doujin? And if not are we allowed to at least post it online or give copies of the comics away at conventions for free? And plus I wish to make a movie out of the doujin with music from the hg/ss video games. Onlly two songs pieces will be added with Japanese lyrics. What is to be said about that really?
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:icontheoriginalsnow:
TheOriginalSnow May 2, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Many people sell prints of fanart on deviantart and some even sell books of their prints. Like nenee and her art of vegeta and bulma of dragonball. I don't think anyone cares as long as you completely created the image yourself and didnt reproduce the original artist rendering of the characters.
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:icontheoriginalsnow:
TheOriginalSnow May 2, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Plus look at how man successful doujins there are that contain manga people that are not owned by the artists.
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:iconmaugryph:
maugryph Apr 16, 2013  Student Digital Artist
I think Bishielurfer's explanation is spot on. However if you make art that is a parody, it is acceptable. That's how magazines like Mad and Cracked get away with it. Its always best to work something out with the copyright owner before selling anything just to be safe
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:iconshirls59:
No. I just got busted by the RCMP for it in Canada. No arrest just a warning to stop. They are going to be cracking down on all fan art.
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:iconreiman76:
Just to be on the safe side, i'd rather keep fan art as personal stuff to be shared with friends and like-minded people. After all, it's not entirely original work and most people just do it for fun.
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:iconfeathergoblinfly:
you might find this helpful [link]
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:iconbishielurfer:
Okay I know this is old but people still seem really confused about this.
Assuming you are selling in the US, it is really a case by case basis. Fanart can be considered a derivative work, which is protected by copyright and therefore illegal to sell. However, US courts allow use of copyrighted material under the Fair Use Exception (this allows for parodies and fanworks and things like that). Most large-scale creators take no issue with people selling fanworks in small scale because it ultimately works in their favour. However, if a creator has a problem with it, they -can- take you to court for copyright infringement. If this happens, the courts will look at numerous aspects of the sale (what it was used for, how unique the fanwork is, and, most importantly, the damages the original creator takes by you selling your work) and ultimately decide if your work is allowed under the Fair Use Exception. These issues are typically only going to arise if someone is selling stolen works, fanwork of independent or small-scale creations, or if the works are being sold on a large scale (for example, Hot Topic would get in serious trouble for selling copyrighted works without permission because they are a huge business and can sell on a massive scale).
If you're uncertain if your work would fall under Free Use or you're really nervous about ticking someone off, your best bet would be to either contact the original creator and ask for the okay and/or Google around and see if they have made a public stance on the issue or if anyone has had an issue with it in the past. Also keep in mind that, most of the time, you will receive a warning and will have a chance to remove the work before any court action is taken. But as has been stated, most creators are fine with people producing fanworks because it helps spread their image without them having to actually do anything and rarely causes significant (if any) loss.
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