Kazuaki Apologizes for Copyright Infringement of Photographs and the Resulting Fallout

Kazuaki posted a public apology on her website admitting that copyrighted photographs were used in the creation of numerous illustrations.  The photographs in question were mostly backgrounds and objects, not her actual character designs.  However, if you look in the very extensive threads in 2ch (first, secondthird at time of posting), you’ll find there’s many cases of the photographs being incorporated directly into her works.  It’s reminiscent of the Nitta Youka incident in 2008.  What will be the result of this revelation?  It’s too early to tell.  Honeybee posted an initial response, but it basically said they were investigating and asked people to wait.  (link now defunct).

Update:  Honeybee upgraded the apology to their front page portal and closed down the website temporarily.  They are checking their products individually for possible infringement.  Enterbrain (B’s Log) has responded (scroll down). The manga kaiyorihito/kaiyorishiki has been canceled, shipments halted, no reprints.  NOOOOO! I want more hot Chihiro.

A wiki/collection is being gathered of information and comparison photos.

I only found this out because I had a very large influx of visitors from 2ch looking for source images of components in the illustrations I posted in the Kazuaki Artworks Sneak Peek entry.  I thought something fishy was going on!  Right now, I’m just glad I already bought that artbook.

lol I beat all the English speaking news sites like ANN to the punch–or they decided it was worthy of posting after seeing my submitted MAL news story go up.  It’s important news to know, especially if you read her manga or might want to snag a copy of her artbook before it disappears.

7 responses to “Kazuaki Apologizes for Copyright Infringement of Photographs and the Resulting Fallout

  1. My reactions to this was like… wtf! Everybody copies references anyway. I don’t get those guys in 2ch. In the industry, it’s very common to use images as reference to draw from. Heck, if you do that to every single illustrations, I can bet you they’ll earn big bucks just trying to sue some movie company’s ass for copyright infringement. It’s very unlikely for someone to draw without referring from some kind of reference. Unfortunately for Kazuaki’s case, she should have used images that are royalty free and they’re free from commercial use. Bah!

    B’s-log hasn’t even been publishing any new chapter from Kaiyorihito/Kaiyorishiki, I bet it won’t effect us that badly. D: I wonder if I can still get another copy of her artbook after this incident.

    • I’m surprised they were so into the “hunt” myself. And I’m a little upset one of my images was one of the first used. I didn’t want to contribute to the witch hunt personally, although it made no difference in the end I suppose. I do understand it’s an issue–there are many books/references you can buy (even specifically designed for mangaka!) for use and like you said, she used the wrong images without the proper clearance for this purpose. Publishers hate legal “issues” and are quick to drop the artist (like Nitta Youka before).

      Kaiyorihito/Kaiyorishiki had been stalled for quite some time, but I had the vague hope it would publish regularly (Chihiro *sob*). If you want another copy of the artbook, I suggest you order it from an online store now. I’m sure they’ll ship out their current stock, but won’t be able to order any more. It’s really a gorgeous book. This is a sad day. But hey, Nitta Youka started publishing again, so perhaps just give it some time..

      • Yea, I’m going to order another copy now and leave in the plastic wrap this time. If I wasn’t so obsessed with Kazuaki, I would have actually laugh at their “witch hunt” as you’ve so kindly put it. It’s kinda outrageous how much time and effort they’re putting into this. I wonder if those hikikomori get a kick out of this. Hope their conscience will eat them alive D8! I’ve never heard anything good about Japanese publisher anyway, they tend to “abuse” their poor mangaka…

        I’ve always wondered why Kaiyorihito/Kaiyorishiki got stalled after B’s-Log had a revamp to Kyun!. Makes me wonder if the editors knew about Kazuaki’s methods of illustrations way before it went public like this. Anyways, I do hope we’ll get to finish reading Kaiyorihito/Kaiyorishiki. The story’s just starting to get interesting too, it’ll be sad to see it gone to waste.

  2. Pingback: Kaiyorihito/Kaiyorishiki Canceled « OS Perverts-only Lare

  3. It’s really a shame, plagiarising and getting plagiarised is usually the last thing artists want to get messed with because it’s like stepping between the borderline of “referencing” and “tracing”. Referring to the comment above on why (I just felt like pointing it out because some people don’t seem to understand), they think the idea of referencing and tracing is the actually same and artists really do that and get away scot-free. I would like to point that it’s not the case.

    It is the same concept as people taking your own artwork and selling it on t-shirts for their own profits (even if you change the design a little or add stuff to the original work); stock photos are no difference. Because at the end of the day, if you didn’t have the permission to use it, you are considered stealing. You have to realise that there are people who make a living out of selling stock photos, and you also have to realise that publishers might get sued too if this gets out, not necessarily the artists themselves. This explains why publishers or companies (especially in Japan) take this matter very seriously and take great measures when artists does that mistake, it is not because they are simply “harsh” or “mean”.

    Usually to solve this problem, an artist takes photos of their own reference (because it is the safest and prevents copyright infringement), but if that’s impossible, they either pay for the high res stock photos or use royalty free stock photos. And obviously with the power of internet these days, peoples’ eyes are always wide open for mistakes. Although if you want to compare with Nitta Youka’s case, she copied fashion editorial magazines for both background perspective and the gestures of the body instead of just the background like Kazuaki. But hey, if she gets forgiven even for that and is able to return after years, I’m sure she’ll be able to return someday too.

    • Dude, I totally understand the difference. I sometimes do stock photography, I sell photos online on stock websites, I know what she’s doing is totally wrong (and stupid, why did she do that ;__;). But, I still think it’s rude for them to slander an artist’s hard work like without feeling an ounce of guilt. If they have the balls to do such a thing, be mature, bring it up to court and get done with it. Not make it blow up into such a big “hoo-haa”. I’m biased ’cause I’m her fan.

      Speaking of tracing, I studied art (more like commercial art) for my diploma and one of my lecturer asked us to trace from photographs patched together for a composition in our illustrations. If tracing is part of the curriculum, is that wrong then? Artist are known to appropriate any thing known to mankind. Only problem with this issue here is that Kazuaki didn’t do that legally, she should have used public domain photographs for her work.

      Btw, do you know how much a photo actually cost? For the resolution Kazuaki’s going for and the quality of photos she’s going to use, it could cost up to $50 – $100 per piece. 🙂 I remember some classmates of mine bought stock photo for class assignments as a background plate and they cost about $70 each and I told them I’d do it for them for free…

      And if she were to take the photo herself (I doubt she has artist assistance right now), it’ll cost her a lot to go all the way up to Hokkaido, even on an overnight train. Besides, she has to get permission from the site itself to use the photos taken there for commercial purposes. It’s a gritty process that could take months (at least in my country) and it’s not as easy as what everybody thinks. Everything that’s being used for commercial purpose has to get an approval letter from the authorities. So taking your own photograph isn’t really the safest method.

      Publishers in Japan are useless to their mangaka. You cannot deny that they’ll save their ass first before protecting their own mangaka. If they give a damn about their mangaka/illustrator, they should have known the methodology being used to create those illustrations.

      But you’re right. Kazuaki’s at fault here. I bet her hardcore fans will either; a. hate her for all their lives or b. be supportive of her. At least now she get some negative publicity out of it. I shall hope and pray she’ll come back to us again though…

      • First, I have to apologise if you felt like my post was directly hard-hitting at you. I’m speaking generally and like I said above, some people don’t get it. Besides, if I wanted it for you I could’ve just replied your comment. Second, before I start, I must say that I too am her fan, I have her manga and also her art book.

        About the tracing: it is part of the curriculum especially when you are in the commercial art industry. Our time is limited because the art directors expect you to finish the whole piece (or pieces like storyboard, shooting board) in a day or more depending on the finishing. That is why your lecturer or all commercial art lecturers will say that it is okay to trace. In reality, it is okay. But what you’re missing is that you can only trace pictures you have permission to trace from, not just any pictures you get online.

        In college, lecturers mentioned that you are allowed to use any pictures without worries because it is for studying purposes and not for commercial sales. Also if it’s for commercial art, the college is training you for the speed flow just to give a knack of how it works in the industry because like they say: why waste time and start things from scratch when you have all the reference in the world? But they wouldn’t go as far as supplying paid stocked photos which I think leads to most of the confusion in many students as they think they can use any pictures they want at any time.

        But when it comes to the industry, everything matters especially copyright issues. Stock photos does crank up that high, for 300-600dpi. But there are some places where you can have a payment of a year / months and you can use as many bulks of stock photos as you want. Usually convenient for those who needs a lot of referencing and most companies will do that option. And yes, photographs does have that gruelling process. Everything does. But depending on what the subject is, it actually does not take that long and after the process, it is by far the safest method if you don’t want to get messed up in this situation.

        I would have to say it’s not just publishers in Japan that are like that. Most big publishers everywhere act the same way. And I mean huge ones, not those small publishing companies. Like I said, if the stock companies actually sue (but for now it is not, it’s just nosy people starting a riot), those companies are going to be in a loss. And obviously being in a big company, they would probably want to save their ass first, and not go all methods just to save one person. In Kazuaki’s case, a mangaka contract with a big publishing company is almost similar to freelance authors; meaning when it comes to these kind of problems “you have to save our own ass because we might have to terminate your contract because we won’t go all ways to save you for the company”. But if somehow you managed to work in one that is nice to you, I’d have to say good for you.

        What she did was wrong, I won’t deny that part. But I won’t go as far as flame her because everyone makes mistakes, and if she understands that and changes her work method, I’m sure she will be able to return soon.

        Lastly, I wouldn’t wanna flood Shin’s blog anymore with this long essays because it’s not being fair to her, so if you feel like speaking up just say so and I’ll drop my e-mail.

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