Do Not Sell Customized Figures Online In Japan, They Will Lock You Up

Illustration for article titled Do Not Sell Customized Figures Online In Japan, They Will Lock You Up

Custom action figures, like these Punch-Out!! ones or this Bayonetta one, are one-off, hand-crafted pieces that sometimes end up on online auction sites. If you live in Japan and make these figures, best keep them to yourself. Or risk getting arrested.


Earlier this week, Niigata Prefecture arrested Keiichi Itoh, 35, and Jun Fujita, 36 for apparently selling a customized Kamen Rider W figure (pictured) via Yahoo! Auctions last November.

The winning bid was around ¥270,000 (US$3,288), a tidy sum indeed.

The two were picked up for violating Japanese copyright law. The suspects told authorities that since the figure was one-off and custom-made, they thought it would be overlooked. This is what the figure looks like before it was revamped by the two men. And before the two men were arrested.

Kamen Rider is a Japanese pop culture institution, spawning movies, anime, video games and even girls in hotpants.


改造フィギュア販売 2人逮捕 [YOMIURI ONLINE(読売新聞)via オレ的ゲーム情報]



Even though I feel like this should be allowed (it was a one-off, after all), it technically is a derivative work. But at the same time, they did purchase the figure legitimately, and first sale doctrine would say that they have every right to resell it...

If I were them, I'd definitely appeal on those grounds.

But regardless, I always wondered how doujins don't fall under DW — my guess is that they're just so institutionalized (and THE source for mangaka in training) that they get a pass.