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Selling Fanart (is it bad?)
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narwhalknight



Joined: 29 Mar 2013
Posts: 42

PostPosted: Sun Mar 31, 2013 8:05 pm    Post subject: Selling Fanart (is it bad?) Reply with quote

In another thread where I was asking some opinions on artwork to sell at a convention, an interesting point was made, that I thought warranted it's own discussion.

Is selling Fan Art wrong?

I'm personally still on the fence. While I had planned to sell some fan art at an upcoming convention while also promoting my own web-comic, I may scrap that idea. I need to give it some thought, and I'd love to hear your thoughts, and maybe discuss.

Some things to consider:

-Is it hurting the original copyright holder? Or does it help promote?

-What is the difference between me selling a drawing of Kitana from Mortal Kombat, and people like Vampy, who sell posters of herself cosplayed up as characters from Batman, X-Men, Street Fighter, DarkStalkers, etc. To me it's the same, and she has made quite a successful business out of it. ( reference: http://vampbeauty.com/store.htm )

If you want to see the artwork I'm considering selling pls see the thread at http://www.thewebcomiclist.com/forums/viewtopic.php?t=22499

Right now I really don't see much of a problem with it. That's why I'm asking. I don't want to end up being the 'Bad guy'.
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wendyw
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Joined: 10 Jul 2008
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 31, 2013 9:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Selling fan art is illegal, but for hand produced one offs and small run items sold at cons and such a lot of rights holders either don't care or recognise that that kind of fan activity probably does them more good than harm.

A good example is the amount of handmade My Little Pony toys on eBay. There's loads of them and Hasbro don't seem particularly worried about it. On the flipside there are cases of people getting letters from lawyers for much less, so if you do want to sell fan art I'd say do your research first. Do you best to find out whether or not the companies that own the things you're drawing are the kind to be sending the lawyers after you or not.
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Casual Notice
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 31, 2013 9:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Morally, selling fan art is the equivalent of borrowing your neighbor's lawn mower and putting it in you garage sale.
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Marscaleb



Joined: 28 Aug 2012
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 31, 2013 10:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

You know, my first thought was that you were selling fanart of someone else's comic, which sounded very wrong to me. But then you mentioned that you're talking about fanart of video game characters, which gave me a completely different response.
Now I'm not sure what the answer would be. what is the difference between these two ideas? Is it because something is popular? Is it because one is owned by its original creator and the other is owner by a corporation, and thus has had many people work on it already?

Earlier today I was on the deviantart page for a guy who writes a comic I like, and he had a picture he painted of Earl and Randy from my Name is Earl. I would see no moral problem of him selling prints of that. But if I saw someone who made their own painting of the characters from his comic, I'd be upset and feel they were stealing from him.

Legally in either case a portion of the artist's sales ought to go to the owner of the original work, whether it's a picture of Torg or of Mileena.

Hmm, what is the difference that creates this duality and hypocrisy?
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narwhalknight



Joined: 29 Mar 2013
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 01, 2013 12:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Good point Marscaleb. Where do we draw the line?
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narwhalknight



Joined: 29 Mar 2013
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 01, 2013 12:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

wendyw wrote:
Selling fan art is illegal, but for hand produced one offs and small run items sold at cons and such a lot of rights holders either don't care or recognise that that kind of fan activity probably does them more good than harm.

A good example is the amount of handmade My Little Pony toys on eBay. There's loads of them and Hasbro don't seem particularly worried about it. On the flipside there are cases of people getting letters from lawyers for much less, so if you do want to sell fan art I'd say do your research first. Do you best to find out whether or not the companies that own the things you're drawing are the kind to be sending the lawyers after you or not.


The companies involved are Netherrealm (Mortal Kombat), Nintendo (Pokemon) and WWE. I'm hand signing all prints and numbering them either out of 10 or 20. I am such small potatoes it's sad lol
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mcmasters



Joined: 28 Jun 2012
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 01, 2013 1:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Seems kind of sour to me. "Can I do it?" yeah, sure, at a small convention I doubt anyone would care. But ethically even if it's still giant mega-corporation Disney or whatever, I wouldn't feel fair drawing and selling pictures of Darth Vader. Of course they would just use the Force to snap my neck if I tried, but the point remains.

It doesn't get you completely around it but it fuzzes it up a bit perhaps if you interject some of your original characters into it. Your main character standing there surrounded by Pokemon characters? Would that seem grossly less marketable?

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fluffy
is not a fish.


Joined: 22 Jul 2008
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 01, 2013 5:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Casual Notice wrote:
Morally, selling fan art is the equivalent of borrowing your neighbor's lawn mower and putting it in you garage sale.

Yeah, because drawing fanart makes original-artist art disappear FOREVER. Conservation of energy and all that.
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MindChimera



Joined: 03 Feb 2013
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 01, 2013 6:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

fluffy wrote:
Casual Notice wrote:
Morally, selling fan art is the equivalent of borrowing your neighbor's lawn mower and putting it in you garage sale.

Yeah, because drawing fanart makes original-artist art disappear FOREVER. Conservation of energy and all that.

"Morally" is the keyword here.

You'd be taking someone else's intellectual property, which you have no rights over, and making monetary gain off of it. Personally, I'm against it.

Even if the chances are low that you'll be targeted by the copyright holder, they do still exist. If you're caught, you're in the wrong. Can you handle the consequences?
I prefer not to worry about it and just avoid doing selling stuff I don't own in the first place.
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nsanelilmunky



Joined: 12 Nov 2012
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 01, 2013 8:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

If it's just fan-art, it's illegal to sell it. If you were using their characters in some type of parody, that's something else entirely. From the pictures that you've posted, it looks more fan-art than anything and really shouldn't be sold. Why not have a few of the pictures posted at your table so people can see your work (it's not illegal to post your fan art, just to sell it) but sell original works instead?
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Traegorn



Joined: 16 Feb 2010
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 02, 2013 12:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've always been of the opinion that fanart is only bad if the legal rights holder has a problem with it.

But I also don't sell fan art - not because I'm morally against it, but because when I go to cons I want to sell my original stuff, and nothing says "amateur artist" more than fanart.
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Clint Wolf



Joined: 15 Apr 2010
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 02, 2013 7:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

There's quite a few professionals who do nothing but sell what's technically fan art. Sometimes they may have drawn the characters in question under contract for Marvel or DC or whatnot, but they sure don't own the copyright. They're not even the people who should arguably hold a copyright (like Jack Kirby) or who might have contributed to making a certain character popular as an IP.

Not only is this not cracked down on, but they often get free tables and Special Guest status at conventions as they sell box upon box of their sexy Dark Phoenix pin-ups. After you see that, it's hard to carry through to the argument that the little guy in Artist's Alley should be prosecuted for the dozen or so Squirrel Girl illustrations he ran off on his home printer.

Also in the case of Marvel and DC, you're borrowing and selling a lawnmower (though technically, they still have their lawnmower) from neighbors with a long, dark history of borrowing several other people's lawnmowers and selling them without a whit of conscience, much less proper remuneration. So I suppose you get the age old question: is it moral to steal from the thief?
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mcmasters



Joined: 28 Jun 2012
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 02, 2013 8:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Clint Wolf wrote:
There's quite a few professionals who do nothing but sell what's technically fan art. Sometimes they may have drawn the characters in question under contract for Marvel or DC or whatnot, but they sure don't own the copyright. They're not even the people who should arguably hold a copyright (like Jack Kirby) or who might have contributed to making a certain character popular as an IP.

Not only is this not cracked down on, but they often get free tables and Special Guest status at conventions as they sell box upon box of their sexy Dark Phoenix pin-ups.


I wonder what the cause of that is (Not cracking down on this by Marvel or DC). Maybe the status of the artist? If it's an artist who in the past worked on the art, the corporations don't want the bad p.r. of trying to make them stop selling fan art? Maybe if it's just done at conventions it's small potatoes enough to not matter. The same artist couldn't be selling the same boxes of fan art on a website, right?

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vulpeslibertas
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Joined: 19 Dec 2005
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 02, 2013 9:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Marscaleb wrote:
You know, my first thought was that you were selling fanart of someone else's comic, which sounded very wrong to me. But then you mentioned that you're talking about fanart of video game characters, which gave me a completely different response. ... Hmm, what is the difference that creates this duality and hypocrisy?
someone else wrote:
So I suppose you get the age old question: is it moral to steal from the thief
I don't want to get on anyone's case here, but wading into the minefield... We are encultured and encouraged in our society to believe that anyone who is successful has done so by stealing from others. Therefore, we inherently assume that the corporation became a corporation via theft. Therefore, any time you are stealing from a corporation you must be stealing from a thief. Psychologically, this justifies us in our theft from them. We imagine ourselves to be Robin Hoods, ignoring the fact that Robin Hood didn't steal from the rich to give to himself. It also helps that we de-personify the corporate entity - If we steal from a person we can see that we hurt them, but if we steal from a group it appears to just magically "go away" somewhere in the accounting books. "If you prick them - they do not bleed", as it were.

CasualNotice wrote:
Morally, selling fan art is the equivalent of borrowing your neighbor's lawn mower and putting it in you garage sale.
I think it would be more accurate to say "Morally, selling fan art is the equivalent of borrowing your neighbor's (who is in the lawn-mowing business) lawn mower without permission or payment, and offering to mow your other neighbor's yard for 50 cents."
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ttallan
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 02, 2013 9:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don't like the idea of selling fan art. But it's reeeeally difficult to maintain that ethical stand when all the other exhibitors around you at the comic convention are selling fan art and making a killing at it. It's what the market demands.
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