Recently a Twitter Post by Popular Voice Actress Erica Mendez brought up a harsh truth and issue. It is one that plagues not only the anime community, but the larger icon community in general. The issue that stems is people selling free autographs from popular voice actresses or actors on eBay for the highest bid; some even selling signed pieces of fan art. It is not only disgusting when you think of all the implications, but the general lack of courtesy towards the artist in question is as appalling as making a quick buck of someone popular. Yes I am barking up a tree that has been there for quite a long time, but it just strikes me as sickening that this issue is still a present one. Do we have the right to even sell their signature, let alone the piece of fan art that is is plastered onto?

Erica Mendez talking about the travesty we go through with 'fans' selling signatures; especially when on fan art.
Erica Mendez talking about the travesty we go through with ‘fans’ selling signatures; especially when on fan art.

Now let me settle this for you all. When you purchase fan art, think of it as paying a license to said artist to tack up their art in your room. You don’t need to give credit as many artists will remove the signature and watermark from the image. You are essentially agree to an unspoken compromise that you won’t claim ownership of the art and you won’t try to resell it for a higher gain. Of course I lack a proper economics degree, but it sounds fairly straight forward. Apple even does this with their Mac OS X license so I wouldn’t be surprised if this eventually became a thing. An artist will always retain artist rights on any piece they make and or sell. This same spoken truth goes for Ota our OGZ Mascot by Milkgrrl. The moral is you cannot gain a profit from selling something that isn’t yours to begin with.

What Erica Mendez is trying to discuss is that we face a situation where convention guests will sign anything free of charge; within reason. Some guests will outright refuse to sign anything but authorized merchandise or may even charge extra for a signature on something that is not a convention badge/booklet. These amazing voice actresses and actors are taking time away from work to be a guest, even sometimes appearing for free. So really they are taking a loss in that regard while the person selling their signature then makes a buck off it. The voice actress or actor thus is not compensated one, bit.

Artists have to pay stiff prices just to even reserve a slice of the popular Artist Alley section.
Artists have to pay stiff prices just to even reserve a slice of the popular Artist Alley section.

Hell you are even making more money off that potential eBay sale than you bought the print for. Thus you are effectively shafting the supposed artist that you adore as well as the VA you idolize. So I ask it again, “Is it right to sell a VA’s autograph? Is it right to sell a signed fan print?” I would 110% argue that it is not within our rights. You are not just hurting one person, you are hurting multiple persons. While on the outside it may seem like a VA or an artist does well for themselves, when in reality they could just be barely scrapping by. Thus you are effectively cutting a source of budget out of their equation; especially when the VA is doing this for free.

Next time you go to a convention and go to grab a signature on that fan art you bought consider this—What if that was you in their position? What if you were the artist who sold that print for 10USD-30USD only to see a print of yours online going for 50+USD with a VA’s signature on it? Your actions have consequences that ripple far beyond what we can ever hope to see. As always thank you for reading these discussions and I will catch you all in the next one!


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4 Comments »

  1. Since we are talking about something personal like a signature, I think you shouldn’t have the right to sell it. Mostly since you can’t be sure if it’s real and original. I have seen people selling photoshopped on signatures on games to try and sell the game at a marked up price. The cherry on the cake was, when I tried to make a picture of it at the garage sale, a guy came up to me and kindly asked to remove the picture from my phone. He didn’t even allow me to leave… So yeah.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. It’s murky. I mean, fanart itself is generally breaking copyright rules if they’re making money off of a copyright work. But, unlike a signed copy of a book, what about a star signing a copy of the movie they starred in? After all, they (usually) don’t own any rights to the movie. Should the person who got those autographed collectibles not be allowed to sell them ever? After all, they’ll usually go higher than a non-signed copy, so that’s technically making money off of a signature. Or is it only okay if you’re broke?

    Note: reselling signed merchandise for a profit is definitely not something I would do. Irritating? Yes. But even if it were against eBay ToS, sellers would probably circumvent with “you’re buying a fancy binder” or something, the same type of loophole people use to get around selling coupons.

    Liked by 1 person

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