A woman in Tokyo was charged with a copyright violation for selling a unique type of merchandise -- bootleg Demon Slayer cakes.
According to NHK News, the unnamed 34-year old woman began selling the unlicensed Demon Slayer cakes in the summer of 2019 and was busted by the Tokyo Metropolitan Police earlier this month. The woman sold hundreds of cakes that featured official artwork from the manga and anime through her Instagram account for roughly 13,000 to 15,000 yen ($114 to $132). "I knew what I was doing was wrong, but I didn't think I'd be able to sell ordinary cakes," she explained in her statement.
While fan art isn't legally protected in Japan, it is often tolerated by rights holders, assuming the artists abide by a series of unspoken rules. Basically, the majority of anime and manga publishers do not report instances of selling fan art as copyright violations if the art is sold in small batches at in-person events, is not a direct reproduction of official artwork and is intended to share the artists' love of a manga/anime rather than make a financial profit.
The Demon Slayer cake maker's business violated each of these unspoken standards; as illustrated in her official statement, her goal wasn't to express her love for the series but rather to leverage the immense popularity of Koyoharu Gotouge's Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba for her own economic gain. Since the manga's initial release in February 2016, the series gained a wealth of passionate fans, who are eager and excited to show their love of the story. As of October 2020, over 100 million copies of the manga have been sold and the movie, Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba - The Movie: Mugen Train, set multiple box office records upon its release. Japan's current Prime Minister is even a fan of the series.
While consumers can no longer order the woman's unlicensed cakes, there is plenty of official Demon Slayer merchandise to enjoy. For example, a Demon Slayer-themed sushi train by Takara Tomy Arts is expected to be released in December and Premium Bandai has a new line of miniature replicas of the story's iconic swords that are the perfect size for consuming yokan, a kind of chewy gelatin dessert that is made from sweet bean paste.
The Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba anime series is available to stream on Netflix, Crunchyroll and Funimation, and the English dub of Mugen Train can be watched on Crunchyroll.
Source: NHK News, via SoraNews24