Home » Controversy Over Street Cosplay: Are ‘Playing Tricks’ Infringement? Lawyers Weigh In

Controversy Over Street Cosplay: Are ‘Playing Tricks’ Infringement? Lawyers Weigh In

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Controversy Over Street Cosplay: Are ‘Playing Tricks’ Infringement? Lawyers Weigh In

“Na Ying” Takes to the Streets of Shanghai
On October 30, the streets of Shanghai were transformed into a lively stage as various cosplayers and celebrities gathered for a unique “Various Celebrity Show”. The event quickly became a hot topic and dominated online searches. Locations such as Shanghai Disneyland and Julu Road were filled with enthusiastic cosplayers, transporting the city into a sea of cosplay.

One of the standout appearances was the character An Lingrong from the popular drama “The Legend of Zhen Huan”. Many people dressed up as An Lingrong and even took a boat trip, reenacting scenes from the show. This caught the attention of Tao Xinran, the actress who played An Lingrong in the original drama, who couldn’t resist sharing the photos. Alongside An Lingrong, other characters from “The Legend of Zhen Huan” like Zhen Huan and Qi Guiren, as well as celebrities like Na Ying and Guan Xiaotong, also made appearances. The presence of these famous figures sparked a debate on whether such impersonations constituted copyright infringement, with lawyers offering differing viewpoints.

However, Na Ying and various other celebrities seized the opportunity to join the street festivities in Shanghai. “Na Ying” and “Faye Wong” even took to the streets to perform a rousing rendition of the song “Meet Me in 1998”. Netizens couldn’t help but notice the striking resemblance between Na Ying and some of the imitators, playfully dubbing them “This Ying”. Even “Li Jiaqi”, the renowned beauty influencer, made an appearance on the streets, promoting a budget-friendly eyebrow pencil with his trademark enthusiasm. Additionally, “Xiang Tai” made a grand entrance, warmly greeting everyone while donning a vibrant Barbie pink fur coat.

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The event didn’t just feature fictional characters and celebrities; it also brought to life characters from palace dramas. People dressed up as An Lingrong from “The Legend of Zhen Huan” and sang the famous “Lotus Plucking Song” while cruising on a boat. Zhen Huan delighted the crowd with a performance of the Jinghong Dance, and someone even portrayed Chu Yuxun from “Let’s Watch the Meteor Shower” using a loudspeaker to recite memorable lines from the show. These enchanting and whimsical portrayals left netizens in awe, exclaiming that it was a truly magical experience.

However, lawyers have raised concerns about the potential infringement involved in these “playing tricks”. Li Shiqiang, a lawyer at Beijing Haiqin Law Firm, stated that creating and impersonating another person’s image without their consent violates the Civil Code’s provision on portrait rights. The definition of a portrait encompasses not only facial features but also any external image that could be associated with a specific individual. Therefore, dressing up as a character or celebrity without permission constitutes an infringement of their portrait rights.

Li Shiqiang further emphasized that infringement is not contingent on profit. Thus, using others’ portraits for self-entertainment activities also constitutes a violation. Additionally, if a cosplayer resembles an artist who played a specific character in a film or television drama, without their permission, it infringes on their portrait rights. From a copyright perspective, however, this situation falls under fair use and does not constitute infringement.

Wei Zeng, a lawyer at Beijing Gaopeng (Nanjing) Law Firm, explained that determining infringement depends on several factors. Firstly, whether the cosplay activity is an organized official commercial event or a spontaneous gathering of cosplayers. If it is solely for personal enjoyment without commercial intentions, it may not be considered infringement. Secondly, the nature of the portrayal is essential. If the cosplayer accurately portrays the character or celebrity without disparagement, and it is done for non-commercial purposes, it may not be deemed infringement. However, distorting, ridiculing, or vilifying the character’s image could result in infringement of the character’s rights or the real-life individual’s reputation and portrait rights.

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Wei Zeng advised event organizers to engage professionals to review the legality of their activities to avoid infringing on third-party rights. Failure to do so may lead to legal consequences, including the potential halting of events. With the rise of large-scale entertainment activities to boost the economy, it is crucial to ensure that all legal boundaries are respected.

As the trend of street cosplay continues to capture the public’s imagination, legal discussions surrounding infringement will likely persist. Both cosplayers and event organizers must navigate these potential legal pitfalls to ensure a thriving cosplay culture that respects the rights of all involved.

– Yangzi Evening News/Ziniu News reporter, Zhang Nan

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