Touhou creator lays down the law for merchandising rights


The Touhou Project series of ridiculously hard bullet hell "shmups" (shoot 'em ups) has been watched over by Team Shanghai Alice, a developer consisting of only one game designer named Zun. As perhaps one of Japanese independent gaming's highest profile franchises, Touhou has long been classified as doujin - amateur works created mainly for fun rather than profit. The series exists in the doujin scene, where fans could basically appropriate its characters and ideas for other doujin creations, with basically no restrictions. However, that is now changing a bit.

Zun has put out new guidelines for 2011 that restrict how Touhou products are made. He's asking that he be contacted first before any commercial goods are made, which is quite reasonable in my eyes. Zun also requests "discretion" for things like dakimakura (hug pillows) and other sexual goods. On a related note, he forbids "overly sexual depictions and defamation against certain individuals, groups, or races that are determined to go against common decency." Sounds like he's covering his bases in light of Tokyo's recent anime regulations.

More interesting is Zun's restriction of commercial anime projects, specifically cel animation (3D is still okay). Apparently Zun was never contacted for the upcoming anime crossover between Touhou characters and the ANIMATE store's mascot. Having no control over a major project with your own characters in it can't have been something he's happy about. Before things like that get too out of control, he's also restricting the sale of games inspired by Touhou Project on various digital distribution platforms and the sale of his own games via overseas downloads. I'd assume this basically means sellers need to check with him before setting up a download site in the US and that your indie shmup can't use Touhou characters.

Of course, it seems all this applies to commercial products. If you're producing doujin works, you should basically be fine. In my mind, it never hurts to contact the guy who made the original you're deriving your work from, just to be safe, but Japanese media copyright law sure is a different beast from the American basics I learned in college.

[ANN via Kotaku]

You are logged out. Login | Sign up



Bob Muir
Bob MuirContributor   gamer profile

Bob has been hanging around ModernMethod for years and and somehow writes almost everywhere, including Destructoid and Flixist. He was once lit on fire, but it's not as cool as you'd think. more + disclosures



Filed under... #doujin #licensing #Touhou #Video games



You're not expected to always agree, but do please keep cool and never make it personal. Report harassment, spam, and hate speech to our community team. Also, on the right side of a comment you can flag nasty comments anonymously (we ban users dishing bad karma). For everything else, contact us!