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Commissions of fancharacters

I've been searching google for info about this but things aren't getting much clearer. If I completely missed past topics about it, I'm sorry, but I found nothing on the tags this... specific. And it's my first time here.

So I've done a few commissions of fancharacters. They're human, and can stand on their own without the "universe" they reside in, I thought it was okay. But what about fan-characters of species not created by the commissioner? I figure a company (Bioware in this case) can't own copyright to humans, but I'm not even sure about issues with that.

I figure when it comes to DnD though, it should be okay because the system is made for you to make characters. I don't know about extending that to games where you can make your own character in-game, but is limited by the game system. Ugh, it seems so complicated.

Another thing is, are gift commissions okay? I doubt people's friends are gonna have a problem with me drawing their characters as a gift to them, but, uh. Just to be sure.

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( 55 comments — Leave a comment )
Dec. 3rd, 2010 03:14 am (UTC)
For the gift commissions thing, I would only use caution if it was something pornographic or insulting. Otherwise, what's there to complain about if they didn't have to spend any money on it?
Dec. 3rd, 2010 03:50 am (UTC)
To be fair, some people are really weird about gift art. Every once in a while I see people put something like 'PLEASE DON'T MAKE ME GIFT ART' on their profile. I asked one artist who had something like that up on their profile why (very politely) and he practically told me to shut up. It was bizarre, he was so rude about it.

I think some people might not be comfortable having their characters done in someone else's style. But all that said, these people are REALLY rare. I've seen like 3 or 4 in all my time on FA. Usually, people LOVE gift art.
(no subject) - ashiyaleni - Dec. 3rd, 2010 04:32 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - thaily - Dec. 3rd, 2010 01:50 pm (UTC) - Expand
Please do not... - kenoscope - Dec. 7th, 2010 09:21 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - ashiyaleni - Dec. 3rd, 2010 05:11 am (UTC) - Expand
Dec. 3rd, 2010 03:23 am (UTC)
Let's take Lion King fan characters. Is it the TLK style that makes it a fan character, or the world? What if the creator of the FC put his lion on Mars and made a whole new world/story for it? Is it still a fan character? At what point do the leashes of FC fall apart?

Granted my own stuff started as Sonic fanwork, making my own insert characters, but they've branched off so far into their own world that they're mine. There's no mention of Sonic living there at all.

I don't see the big deal in doing it.
Dec. 3rd, 2010 03:35 am (UTC)
A lion is pretty stock, much like humans so it doesn't really work in this case, but what if it's something like WoW?
Generally the fan characters start as the character people play with, so they are likely to be of the in-game species with the in-game species characteristics and have in-game armor/clothes/gear that are designed by the company studio, so you have to take some of those really far before you can ask is it a fan character anymore.
(no subject) - hellebore - Dec. 3rd, 2010 03:52 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - vauvakolibri - Dec. 3rd, 2010 04:29 am (UTC) - Expand
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(no subject) - raeraesama - Dec. 3rd, 2010 02:51 pm (UTC) - Expand
Dec. 3rd, 2010 03:27 am (UTC)
I'm curious as to this, too. Say if I decided to have one of my characters depicted as an Asari from ME. Is that illegal? I've also commissioned a piece with Alex Mercer from Prototype...

As for gift commissions: I don't do adult gift commissions. Period. The one time I did one, I had the giftee noting me to pull the piece. Apparently the person who bought the commission did not have permission, nor was the giftee OK with this.
Dec. 3rd, 2010 04:24 am (UTC)
Maybe an alternative would be to get the ok from the giftee by note? If it's a surprise gift, then you say no.

I've never really needed to do this yet, as you can usually easily tell on people's pages who they're actually friends with and I don't do porn, but it's in my TOS that I'll ask for a note from the other person.
(no subject) - ashiyaleni - Dec. 3rd, 2010 04:39 am (UTC) - Expand
Dec. 3rd, 2010 03:48 am (UTC)

Technically it's a breech of copyright since it counts as a derivative work because it's based on existing material not belonging to you. (Humans may also be a breech if they're very specific).

However in general most companys don't really care so long as it's not mass produced or you're not making a load of money off it. Though do bear in mind that legally they can go after you if they decide they do care about your infringement.

That said many well known artists do it, it's pretty much a given in the comic world for professional artist to sell/ do con sketches for their fans for money. Some artists make their entire living from drawing people's D and D characters excetra.

Gift commissions it depends on what you mean by that? If you mean just drawing a picture for someone off of your own back, most people won't complain. If you're talking about someone buying a picture to give to someone else of the someone else's character? Well it's best to ask unless it's meant to be a surprise, but I would be especially careful of explicit images which might result in a negative reaction. Generally if you feel uncomfortable with what someone is asking for as a gift, I'd suggest turning it down. Better safe than sorry.
Dec. 3rd, 2010 04:25 am (UTC)
Hmm, yeah that's what I thought. The humans I've done could very well be taken out of their "universe" and still exist, like if one of their owners decided they don't want them to be part of said universe anymore, or made some parallel universe.

Yes, I mean when someone wants to gift people by commissioning said people's characters. (and yes, I mean as a surprise). Nothing explicit, I agree that could be way too problematic.

Do you personally think fancharacters are a yes or a no? It seems to be such a "not good but not that bad" thing that I guess I'd like to just know how most people feel about it.
(no subject) - lilenth - Dec. 3rd, 2010 04:47 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - ashiyaleni - Dec. 3rd, 2010 06:46 am (UTC) - Expand
Dec. 3rd, 2010 03:51 am (UTC)
Most artists that I've seen are generally okay to draw fancharacters as long as they're not just recolours of the main character, and I'm not 100% sure but things like that might go under derivative work when it comes to law.
If it doesn't, it's likely that it's the same deal as with drawing and selling art with copyrighted characters in small amounts (like Naruto pins or Pokemon bookmarks) so that it is illegal but it's very unlikely that anyone cares.

As for gift commissions, I'd personally like a note of agreement from the character owner, but if it's something like a neutral icon or a bookmark and it's a Christmas gift I probably would do it. If it's porn etc I wouldn't do it without unseen permission from both character owners.
Dec. 3rd, 2010 04:47 am (UTC)
It seems one of those illegalities-that-do-nothing things. Personally, do you think it's okay to do them?

I've been asked for "surprise gift", but when I can tell people are friends and have a good reputation and such, (and no porn either) I'm thinking it's not a problem. But I guess I'll have to be careful with that.
(no subject) - vauvakolibri - Dec. 3rd, 2010 04:57 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - ashiyaleni - Dec. 3rd, 2010 05:07 am (UTC) - Expand
Dec. 3rd, 2010 04:23 am (UTC)
I've been asked to do one gift commission recently. After reading about others' experiences here on A_B, I insisted that the people whose characters were in the commission note me directly with permission. They still have no idea of the details of the commission, and thus that part will be a surprise.

Yeah, kinda spoils a bit of the fun of a gift pic, but prevents a lot of potential drama on the back end!
Dec. 3rd, 2010 04:50 am (UTC)
Ohh. I didn't know they caused much problem. I already accepted one so that'll have to be done, but I'll sure think of this for the next time! (and hope nothing bad happens this time)
Dec. 3rd, 2010 05:15 am (UTC)
I do a lot of gift art. On teenycom I have nomination posts where people tell me to draw their friend's character and why. I found these people are much more... happy? with the surprise, than someone who would reply to my "free art for YOU" threads. THOSE people, who wanted me to draw for them and not a friend, were often rude and just weird about the FREE ART. So now I stick to nominated gift art.

Does that make sense? I am so tired right now and not sure I am making sense.
Dec. 3rd, 2010 05:55 am (UTC)
Yes it makes sense to me, heheh.
That sounds really nice! I got a bit scared reading soome replies though, of people not wanting to get art of their character, perhaps because of the style, or something untrue to the character, I don't know.
So that never happened to you?
Dec. 3rd, 2010 07:00 am (UTC)
If someone wants you to draw Micky Mouse, thats bad. If they want you to draw an anthro mouse that is black and white and doesnt look like Micky then its fine.

Trolls, Orcs, Goblins, Elfs, Minotaurs(Tauran) have so many different kinds and art out there, it doesnt matter.

If I remember correctly, you cant trademark a race just a character. Same as you can own land not a planet :).
Dec. 3rd, 2010 07:32 am (UTC)
"If I remember correctly, you cant trademark a race just a character."
You can trademark a design that's distinctive enough. Whether it's a single character or a species/race, it shouldn't matter as long as it's distinctive enough for the court.

Like trademarking a "halfling" alone doesn't really work because they are vague so there are hobbits, bobbits, kenders and what-nots that are basically the same, but the xenomorph Aliens are trademarked.
(no subject) - djdragonboy - Dec. 3rd, 2010 06:56 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - lilenth - Dec. 3rd, 2010 08:10 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - raeraesama - Dec. 3rd, 2010 10:13 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - ashiyaleni - Dec. 4th, 2010 12:40 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - vauvakolibri - Dec. 4th, 2010 04:45 am (UTC) - Expand
Dec. 3rd, 2010 07:30 am (UTC)
Hmm... I think you should be okay on the fancharacter thing it's probably one of those things where it's highly unlikley that the creators are going to come over you. Via DA I've seen plently of comissions with 'this is suchandsuch's Naruto Oc' or whatever.

Not sure about the gift comissions, I personally wouldn't mind if someone did that for me but it'd probably vary from person to person.
Dec. 3rd, 2010 05:33 pm (UTC)
On the legal side of things, without going into great detail, characters cannot be copyrighted unless they are distinctly unique outside of their original body of work. If a character is deemed protected, fan art/fiction of that character becomes derivative work and is a copyright infringement. "Fair Use" determination is intended to allow criticism, parody, and educational use of a property, and whether it can be applied is largely determined on if the work is non-profit, if the copyrighted content used is a small part or substantial whole of the derivative work, and if the derivative work could potentially affect the market value of the infringed property in question. Many property owners have publicly stated they will not pursue infringement claims against fan art/fiction because they believe such work will help promote awareness of the original work and "boost sales" (Paramount). Some copyright owners do not support fan-created work and have gone to aggressive lengths to pursue infringement charges (Pern). Acknowledging the owners of copyrighted characters used in the art/fiction (an author credit) is common practice and acknoledges that you are borrowing another's character(s).
Dec. 3rd, 2010 08:04 pm (UTC)

Your information is incorrect, characters cannot be copyrighted generally except as part of a whole, they are usually trademarked on their own which is a completely different legal matter.
Dec. 5th, 2010 02:56 am (UTC)
Gifts your mileage may vary. I've had one gift art thrown back in my face and the person it was for flipped out and yelled at me about no gifts. It really really odd.

Typically people are fine with it and love gift art but there are some odd eggs that just asplode over it.
( 55 comments — Leave a comment )


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