ZUN’s “Doujinshi License”

ZUN’s blog post I partially translated (alternate translation available at Sankaku Complex, of course) seems to generate much controversy both in Japan and in the world of us weaboos. The anime’s promotional video in Nico Nico Douga was made 10 minutes long to allow lots of comments, and there you would find lengthy comments (by Nico Nico standard)  like you would find at Sankaku Complex.

More important than the postscript, the main meat of the post outlined ZUN’s copyright policy, setting the limits on what people can do wiith Touhou content. Here are some excerpts:

まず、立体物のイベントの当日版権について。{{Firstly, on on-the-day license applications from figurine events.}}


特に、ピンキーストリートなど二重で版権を持っている場合がある為、申請無しではトラブルの元になるからです。 {{Especially because figures such as Pinky:st requires you to have two licenses, not filing the application at all can be a source of problem. (Cardcaptor’s note: I’m not familiar with how figurine conventions work. Anyone cares to enlighten me?)}}

申請している方と、していないかたが混在する事が一番困ると言う事で、 一応イベントのルールに則り、面倒だと思いますが当日版権の申請を お願いしたいと思います。 {{I’m most troubled by the fact that there are both people who do apply and people who don’t. For the time being, please follow the event rules, and, although I think it’s going to be a hassle, please do submit the application.}}

ただ、余程の事が無い限り、申請を却下したりしないので、儀式として申請するだけして、返事を待たずに製作に取りかかってOKで す。(写真はまだ手付かずならば必須とはしません) {{However, as long as nothing bad happens, I won’t reject any applications. So just file the application as a part of the formality, and you can start the production right away without having to wait for my reply. (A photo of the figurine is not required if you haven’t started working on it yet.)}}

また、当日版権の制度がないイベント(例大祭やコミケなど)の場合は、通常の二次創作のグッズと同じように取り扱って頂いて結構です。 {{Also, for events with no on-the-day license system (such as Reitaisai and Comiket), please handle your items the same way you treat other derivative works.}}

二つ目、企業グッズに関して。{{Secondly, on commercial (as opposed to doujin) goods.}}

最近、企業が東方の二次創作の物を出すことが多くなっています。{{Recently, the industry has produced more derivative Touhou goods.}}

これに関しては、基本的に事前に報告して頂き、限られた流通で販売のみ許可する様にしています。{{Regarding the matter, basically please inform me before distribution, and I would grant permission to only sales through limited circulation channels.}}

限られた流通とは、同人即売会、同人ショップ及び通販です。つまり、元となるうちのゲームを取り扱える範囲内のみで販売、ということです。 {{Limited circulation means doujinshi conventions, doujin shops, and mail orders. In other words, within the channels my original games are sold.}}

内容に関しては、各企業の自由です。{{The content is free for each enterprise to choose.}}

今出ているグッズは許可を出していると思いますが、一応そんな方針でお願いします。{{I think all the commercial goods currently on sale have received permission. Still, I would like to ask everyone to adhere to this policy.

また、企業ではないサークルさんの二次創作も、同人の流通を越える場所(例えば一般の書店やゲームショップなど)での取扱、宣伝は控えて頂きたいです。 {{Also, for doujin circles that are not part of the industry, please refrain from selling or promoting your products through channels that exceed doujin distribution (for example, normal book stores or game shops).

三つ目、二次創作の商品化について。{{Thirdly, on commercializing derivative works.}}

最近、二次創作物が商業作品に組み込まれる事の抵抗が少なくなっています。昨今の創作スタイルの変化が早く、東方の二次創作に関しても何処までOKかの 明確な基準を設けられないでいます。{{Recently, resistance to mixing derivative works with commercial works is decreasing. As the style of production nowadays are changing rapidly, there have been no clear-cut guidelines as to how far one could go with Touhou derivative works.}}

例えば、アレンジ曲を自分の非同人CDに入れたい、ライブで演奏したいなどなら、基本的に出典元を明示して頂ければ問題ないです。{{For examples, if you want to put arranged Touhou songs in your non-doujin CD or perform such songs at live events, then there are no problems as long as you acknowledge the source.}}

パロディネタやモチーフとして作品に組み込むのも、特に問題はありません。{{I also have no problems with people using Touhou parodies or using Touhou as motifs.}}

ただやはり、同人作品をそのまま商業流通に乗せてしまう事はあまり望ましくないので、基本的に許可しません。{{However, I do not wish for people to market doujin works as they are through commercial channels, so basically I will not grant permission to such endeavors.}}

Let us reflect on what ZUN allows us to do. I would say he’s a patron saint of doujin artists rather than brand him as a dictator or a control freak! For one thing, ZUN allows ALL KINDS OF TOUHOU CONTENT to be created. His stance stands in stark contrast with Crypton, which sent a cease-and-desist letter to a doujin circle who’s going to make Miku and Rin dakamakura covers, or Shogakukan, which considered sueing a doujin circle who just wrote a very good Doraemon doujinshi. That said, ZUN is a hell lot more generous than Western creators, who wouldn’t even allow things they don’t like. For examples, George Lucas disacknowledged many fan films back in 2002, and he gave harsh warnings to people who made erotic fanfics back in the 1980s. Quigon and Obiwan cannot have yaoi sex whatsoever, but who knows how many times Youmu has been penetrated by her beloved Yuyuko-sama?

You can also get monetary benefit from your Touhou doujin though he restricts the channels to only doujinshi conventions, doujinshi shops, and mail order. You might say that other manga creators allow this as well. But who does publicly says that it’s okay to make money from doujinshi like ZUN does? If you make a Naruto doujinshi, you do it at the grace of Kishimoto and Shuueisha (fixed). They can file a lawsuit at you any time, but they choose not to do so because there may be too many cases to prosecute. But, if your doujin sticks out like a sore thumb (just like the Doraemon doujinshi mentioned previously), then you’ll feel their wrath. By the way, what’s ZUN’s reaction to Maikaze’s anime? He just asked them not to sell it at book stores or anime shops, and to clearly indicates the derivative nature of the work. This is by no means saying, “No, you can’t do it.”

To put his policy in perspective, let us compare it to Creative Commons licenses. However, since all CC licenses allow verbatim copying but I guess ZUN wouldn’t explicitly allow people to copy his games like that, I would limit the discussion to the aspect of derivative works. In this frame of thought, the only license that is more permissive than his is Attribution, which does not limit means of distribution. ZUN does not demand people to license their derivative works in any particular way like Attribution-Share Alike does. All kinds of derivative works are allowed, and selling via doujin distribution channels is full-blown commercialization in itself. (Doujinshi market is HUEG, and one can make tons of money selling doujinshi.)

Moreover, ZUN’s copyright scheme is not uniform on all types of content. He is the most generous with his music. Want to put an arranged song on your commercial CDs? As long as you acknowledge him, go ahead. Want to perform them live? Go ahead. Some people might hate IOSYS for selling their Touhou CDs via Amazon without paying anything back to ZUN, but they are playing by the rules here. ZUN’s “music license” is comparable to the retired Creative Commons Sampling 1.0 license, and we should all thank him for offering his music for others to remix so freely.

I think ZUN’s “doujinshi license” is not burdensome like Artefact claimed it to be. Indeed, we can see that he tries to accommodate all current forms of fan activities here. ZUN is a hell lot permissive than most creators out there, and I salute him for that.

Still, as I wrote previously in my Crypton post, I don’t like the prospect of a creator restricting how other creators may create and distribute derivative works. This is not a problem with ZUN, but a problem with copyright law in general. What I hope for is to apply compulsory license to commercial creative works like manga and anime. I need time to ruminate on this. Maybe it’s a totally bad idea. Imight write about this in the future.

(Cardcaptor’s note: I seem to misspell “commercial” as “commertial” a lot. -_-’)

This entry was posted in Opinion and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.


  1. Posted February 25, 2009 at 2:08 pm | Permalink

    ZUN’s music license eh? Sounds like I have some music to make then. Touhou music is awesome, and I could really use some money.

  2. mak
    Posted March 18, 2009 at 9:06 am | Permalink

    I think it’s very natural Crypton has been keeping Miku and others from that kind of things, because their innocent impression is crutial for their business.

  3. Slade366
    Posted September 28, 2010 at 12:44 am | Permalink

    I know this post is old but I am wondering how I could get permission from him to use one of his songs in a YouTube video. (I am a Youtube partner so there might be ads alongside the video). I wonder if there’s anyway I could sort this out but considering I can’t speak any Japanese I guess there really isn’t anything I can do.

  4. cardcaptor
    Posted October 16, 2010 at 6:29 am | Permalink

    If you cannot contact him directly, the best option is to rearrange the song yourself and publish it. As mentioned in the article, when it comes to music, ZUN doesn’t need anything more than acknowledgement. I’m not so sure whether this policy has changed or not though.

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *


You may use these HTML tags and attributes <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>