Battles on Copyrights Part 2 - Mimicry is not Creativity

topSankei Web recently published a multi-part article on the famous anime and manga creator Leiji Matsumoto, who talks about the importance of copyrights. In Part 2, Leiji Matsumoto discusses the differences between imitation and creativity.

Battles on Copyright - Mimicry is not Creativity

Matsumoto, who is currently in charge of copyright issues at the Japan Cartoonists Association, is proposing to extend the copyright limit from 50 years to 70 years.

"Of course there are pros and cons regarding this issue, and I understand some part of what the other side is saying. However, I believe that more than 90% of those who have had any kind of creative experience would say yes to 70 years [of copyright protection]. Even those who only read manga would surely not want to see something to be completely altered from what the original used to be."

Matsumoto is concerned about the aftermath of copyright-expired works as well. "Even if you're alive, you don't know what people would do to your work. If you're dead, there would come eccentric interpretations, alterations and transmutated sequels."

Looking at the French and Italian translations of his manga Galaxy Express 999, Matsumoto says, "If it's in a foreign language, you cannot tell if the story was mistranslated or altered on purpose. First, there has to be a good definition for copyright, and then there must be a common understanding on creators' rights, including rights of design. For example, copyrights for movies are 70 years while manga copyrights expire 50 years after the artists' death. That's really funny. You can make movies based on manga that are already copyright-free."

Matsumoto, based on his own experience, opposes to claims that extending copyright protection would obstruct the freedom of creativity, such as adaptation.

"Everything starts from mimicking. You copy something, then you applicate, upgrade, and develop it into an idea. The great wall of creativity comes after that process, where every imitation stops dead. Pastiche is never an original creation. I am wholly opposed to it. Pastiche, if not for training, is plagiarism. It is an insult for a creator to be told 'that's similar to something else' to their work. It can't be helped for adapting an idea from several hundred years ago, but a 50-year-limit is too short and too familiar to say it was adapted. 70 years is also too short, but acceptable. I have been working for 54 years, but that was a very short period."

Matsumoto has many unfinished works, and says, "I want to keep working for another 20 years. I will start working on all the halted titles. As a matter of fact, I have a deadline coming up." His imagination is fueled by the fact that his works are copyright protected.

There are almost defaming criticisms on the internet against Matsumoto, such as "he is overprotective of copyrights" and "he always brings his cases to the court to resolve them quickly."

"Of course it is infuriating to be plagiarized. Most of those issues can be resolved personally. Someone used a title that was identical to mine, but I had to shrug it off laughing because there are no copyright for title names. Even the most inadmissible situations were settled by heart-to-heart communication."

"I wish I didn't have to fight with everyone, and settle all of these copyright battles peacefully. I don't like lawsuits, they are the last resort."

But such feelings from Matsumoto's are not understood by everybody.

Original Article
Translate by Masako

Battles on Copyrights Part 1 - Leiji Matsumoto Talks about Creators' Thoughts
Battles on Copyrights Part 3 - The Fear of Falling into the Abyss

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Is it 50 years after the

Is it 50 years after the creator's death or 50 years?? If it is the first then in theory something could be held under copyright for more than 100 years total. Isn't that more than enough? Think of how many generations that will be.

I don't think people should plagiarize but holding a character design of a robot, the lyrics to an anime theme-song or the premise of a space opera tied up for longer than it has ever been in history is being greedy.



50 years after death :P