The following is a list of popular misconceptions from the MMD fandom.
MMD Platform and Models are Copyright Free
|“||MMD platform and models are copyright free||”|
Despite its appearance and being easily-downloadable, MikuMikuDance and models for the program and platform is STILL covered by copyright. MMD software and models are taken as "royalty free". This means, it is often regarded that you do not have to pay copyright fees for them unless you use them for commercial purposes.
Crypton and other Vocaloid distributors hold the copyright for their Vocaloid characters. Additionally, Crypton established Piapro Character License, which is almost the same as Creative Commons, for the free creative activities by the users involving those characters. Other Vocaloid distributors seem to share the idea with Crypton, so you should use MMD models within the scope of the license.
This guideline also applies to the non-Vocaloid models such as K-On!, Axis Powers Hetalia, Dragon Ball and so on.
I Can Redistribute MMD Models for non-Japanese-speaking (or English-speaking) Users
|“||I'm redistributing MMD models by Fair Use for the fans who don't speak Japanese. I'm a volunteer contributor!||”|
This is the most controversial misunderstanding among western fandom. MMD is just a tool for Vocaloid and anime otakus. That is, MMD and MMD models are not for public interest. MMD is just a fan-tool in the first place. In addition, Japanese law code does not permit U.S. fair use clause so you should not redistribute "non-distributable" models.
Fair use is commonly misunderstood because of its deliberate ambiguity. In the law, the term "fair" use has a specific meaning that only partly overlaps the plain-English meaning of the words. Not every use that is commonly considered "fair" counts as fair use under the law.
If you wish to help under the spirit of volunteering and contributing, there are more and far better ways to pitch in. For instance, translating materials is what is needed badly to bridge the gap between producer and user.
All Miku Models are under the Creative Commons License
|“||Miku is under the Creative Commons License. I can edit or redistribute all Miku models under the License||”|
Miku under Creative Commons (CC hereinafter) is often misinterpreted. The fact is only the original Miku illustration is under CC. Secondary creations are both under CC and the rules of the authors.
Example. You draw a Miku illustration. Can anyone edit or redistribute your illustration freely because yours is "under CC" ? No. You share the exclusive copyright on your own illustration with Crypton. The same goes with each MMD Miku model.
Higuchi M and Animasa Say You Can Do Anything You Want with MMD
|“||Higuchi M and Animasa say you can edit or redistribute MMD models. So I edit or redistribute models as I like||”|
This ruling is specified only for the MMD default models (the models that accompany every MikuMikuDance program download). Third-party models have their own rules, and Higuchi M and Animasa do not have the authority over the models or the rules created by other people. You must follow the rules of each third-party model.
Note: Higuchi M requests you ask Animasa, Kio or M2gzb, the copyright holders of default models beforehand when you are in doubt of editing or redistributing the default models.
But Higuchi M's Rules Come First before Third-party Model Rules
|“||Higuchi M supports the free use of MMD. Modelers who set their own rules go against Higuchi M!||”|
Again, Higuchi M has never affirmed breaking the rules of third-party models. His rule is only for the MMD platform itself.
Type Nanoha1052 "Packaged" Family is in the Public Domain
|“||Nanoha1052 and other "Packaged" models are not copyrighted at all. I can modify and redistribute them in whatever the way I like to do!||”|
To come straight to the point, this common belief is not true. NOT ALL NANOHA MODELS ARE COPYRIGHT FREE.
This misconception stems from the fact that the anonymous modeler Nanoha1052 released the first 1052 model. Nanoha1052 allowed editing and redistributing the model, so many 1052 derivatives have came to the MMD fandom. Most 1052 creators follow the policy in respect for Nanoha1052, who created and distributed the model for many fans without expecting any return.
Later other modelers in the Nanoha community started creating 1052-styled models from scratch. These models are still counted as the Nanoha family, but these models have no direct connection with Nanoha1052 Miku. Each modeler holds the copyright of each newly-created model, and some of these models are NOT editable or redistributable. You should confirm each usage policy of each 1052-styled model before using it. If you are not sure of the model usage policy, especially you do not have the full command of Japanese, you should refrain from editing or redistributing the model.
There was a dispute among Japanese 1052 fandom over uncontrolled edits on the models. Some "creators" just collected parts from various models and attached them on packaged as "their original" characters. This kind of modification is called Frankensteining, and without due permission and acknowledgment, is considered a piracy; such acts garnered many negative responses and the characters using such "Frankensteined" models were taken down from Nicovideo as a result.
In short, you can process re-editable models, but you should remember the original creators, and show due respect to them and to the work and efforts they have paid. At the very least, you are expected to contact the original creators and to credit original works and creators on your models. If you want to be a famous -P in the MMD fandom, try to come up with original works that comes from your own effort, originality and ingenuity. You can't proclaim yourself as a creator just with minor effort, making minor edits on the models others provided for you. There's nothing creative about that; it's just a shameful piracy.
This can also be said to other re-editable models.
Japanese Creators Should Protect Their Works by Themselves
|“||Japanese creators don't say yes/no clearly so I modify and redistribute their models. It's their fault not to claim their own copyright explicitly.||”|
The concept of copyright is very different in Japan and in other East Asian countries from that of the United States. Japanese people do not usually claim copyright zealously, for an old Japanese proverb says 能ある鷹は爪を隠す "A shrewd hawk does not show off his talons", which means "a person with true ability will not push himself / a person who pushes himself does not really have the true skill". This is the reason many Nicovideo works are sophisticated, for many "shrewd hawks" are behind the works.
A plagiarizer will get many thumbs-down and will suffer ostracism from his/her community. This punishment often works in more severe ways than legal punishment, so they don't feel the need to protect their works by laws. In addition, some Japanese creators are not aware that their works attract many foreign fans, or do not release products with a global audience in mind, so they don't just provide English usage rules, thinking it is only fellow Japanese people who would patronize their works.
For foreign fans patronizing Japanese works, it is imperative to respect their copyrights regardless if their copyright clause is ambiguous. Or if you are eager to use their models, communicate with the creator to make the modification formally acknowledged. After all, the Japanese people are starting to be aware of the global potential of their works and are starting to create products and works with foreign audiences taken into account.
There are many examples of the Japanese becoming aware of a global audience. MikuMikuDance itself was created with the non-Japanese users in mind, and thus, tutorials were made available in English. Vocaloid Lily's introduction PV was created with foreign audiences taken into account by releasing an in-house official English version of the video. Even the Crypton Future Media Vocaloid Hatsune Miku was initially semi-aware of foreign audiences, and just recently, has embraced a global audience.
For more details about Japanese thinking and communicating ways, visit UTAU Wiki: Japanese Language and Culture.
Japanese Copyright Law is Not Valid on Me
|“||I'm not a Japanese citizen so I'm free from Japanese copyright law.||”|
Almost all the countries around the world including the United States, Canada, EU members and Japan ratified Berne Convention. This treaty protects copyright in the global scale beyond borders. The copyright laws and ordinances vary from country to country, but U.S. Copyright Office says:
Question: When is my work protected?
|“||Some modelers set Japanese/Kanji passwords. They are cunningly trying to exclude overseas users by an invisible barrier!"||”|
Please understand that setting passwords that are difficult to solve for foreign users is a topic of controversy among Japanese modelers, too. Some modelers are expressing negative opinion against this idea.
Reasons for Distribution Discontinuity
|“||"Model Creator" has removed their models from public! They are being rude/selfish/stupid/sensitive!||”|
A controversial action in the MMD community is when models are no longer being distributed by the creator due to them pulling their models from public access. The particular reason for a model being pulled is the creator finding out that their model has been misused and thus feels the need that if others show the same action then the model should no longer be available. However, it is not unheard of for a creator to allow public download once again to test the community, at times the creator may place passwords on their models or require emailed permission before linking a user to a download.
In the western fandom this action is looked upon as the creator being selfish, instead of seeing that the creators rights have been violated and they took the option which best suited the situation.
|“||"Model Creator" is distributing again only I hear they blocked my country, that's racist!||”|
Another tactic creators use to stop abuse of their work is the blocking of IPs unrelated to their country of origin. If they feel a majority of the violators are from a certain country it will be selective blocking for a duration of time. Whatever personal reasons the creators feel to block is their business. Please move onto other models, wait for the block to be removed or simply understand the reasons for the block.
Communication Gap between Japanese Creators and Overseas Creators
|“||Japanese Creators are intolerant to overseas model editors. They are so exclusive!||”|
Many Japanese creators are professional programmers and 3DCG graphic designers, and they have lateral communication in the computer industry. When a modeler edits others' works, he/she contacts the original creator and get an okay before editing and distributing others' models. Users just don't know this fact and think modelers are editing others' models freely, but this is not true.
You may not know it, but creators like them are amenable to communication. They would love to hear from you, even if a creator permits free edits and modifications on his/her models.
Keeping your lines of communication open in this regard will win you trust among professional MMD creators, Japanese or otherwise. Help is always available if communication does become an issue for you.
Informing of Rules and Guidelines
|“||I found someone violating the rules of a model! I'm going to give them a strict talking to!||”|
A raising trend in the western community is confronting violators of the rule by harassing them. This is not the solution when it comes to confronting someone with an illegal model on display. While it is more courteous to leave message to the person about why the model or link they have is inappropriate, it is quite rude to create a cuss filled threatening message to the person in question and expect them to even look at your message with reason.
There are times when...
- Someone is new to MMD and does not understand or know of the rules to various models. - Scaring them about rules and guidelines is going to give them a skewed view of the community.
- Someone does not understand the language the rule were written in. - While the excuse may cause agitation, there are times when a readme file is unread or not understood.
- Someone is aware that they are violating the rules and believe the model is in fair use. - If a simple message can not get through to the person, then retaliation is NOT recommended. Continuing to message this type of person will just lead to an a situation escalating beyond what is needed.
- Someone is blatantly violating the rules out of their own amusement. - It is best to not give these types more fuel to go on, and just simply report such users without any fanfare or attention.
It is up to the person in question to remove their content, simply informing someone of rules to a model and the common consequences set by the creators should be enough.
The Big Bad Foreigners
|“||It's always the English-speaking non-Japanese who violate rules and it's always the Japanese who follows the rules each and everytime!||”|
While several incidents in and out of the MMD community have attributed this belief, the belief that the Japanese are always clean and obedient is not true!
Every nationality has their share of bad apples, and the Japanese people are no exception. There has been incidents where some Japanese people violate rules set by their own brethren. Conversely, not all non-Japanese people are potential rulebreakers, there are those who also play by the rules.
Since its very start Nicovideo has been a place for uncontrolled editing of others' works, copyright violation, questionable videos, trolling, spamming and abusive comments. The founder of the video sharer was the same person that established 2ch and he was reluctant to exclude such internet misuse. While the free Vocaloid creating and development partly attributes to this trend, many posters infringed the original creator's rights and as a result some creators left Nicovideo because they felt sick of this ungoverned state. Nicovideo is tightening its usage rule and the case of copyright violation is decreasing recently, but there still prevails "no holds barred" atmosphere on the site. You don't have to follow these ill-mannered guys. Please be in good behavior.
Let us not jump to conclusions and make assumptions in this matter.
- ↑ Higuchi M's tweet on September 2, 2013.