As someone who has been a part of the geek-culture scene in various roles, I can attest to the notion of Cosplay Related Creepiness being a serious issue. It is a matter that has persisted for so long that the grassroots movement, Cosplay =/= Consent, is spreading like wildfire in the community. By getting this mesage out there, it is hoped that people will become aware that someone dressing up as their favorite character (among other things) is not an invitation to disrespect them as a person. As with all movements of this type, progress will be met with setbacks, an unfortunate reality that appears to have happened in the dealer’s room of the AnimeNext convention this weekend.
This morning, Carrie Wink posted two photos of Cosplayers who are well known in the Northeast Convention Circuit. Of course, stock photos of even well-known cosplayers are not uncommon. However as you can plainly see here...
...these are not ordinary photos. From the same source that broke the story, it has been confirmed that 2 Image Solutions is selling full body pillows featuring these images, and the cosplayers say they don't have permission. In fact, the Superman cosplayer, Dustin Dorough, went on record on Facebook to say:
"Whoa... I DEFINITELY did not give permission for this."
He also said:
"I never signed any sort of release for any products or prints. I've only done photoshoots with 4 photographers and never in this suit. This pillow is a random convention candid from Dragon*Con."
Another Cosplayer divulged that she did sign an agreement with 2 Image Solutions, but that the full body pillow allegedly goes beyond the “scope of business” (i.e. the limit of exploitable activity) that the agreement was originally signed for. Her statement supports the suspicion that this vendor could be illegally using the likeness of the Cosplayers in question to make a buck. Needless to say, this situation, if it is as it appears, is pretty reprehensible, even if it turns out to be technically legal. As to what actions might be taken against the vendor, we'll keep you updated.
My Personal Take on the situation:
Brass tacks time, ladies and gentlemen. Despite gallant efforts of those in this community to make it known that this behavior isn’t okay, there will be those that slip through the cracks and have to learn a couple of lessons the hard way. However, it is expected that these lessons do not have to be taught to people acting as professionals. It shouldn’t have to be said, but the minute you sign up to be a vendor in a Dealers Room/Exhibit Hall you are there in a business capacity, and are expected to conduct yourself with integrity. Just like straight-up bootleg products are not acceptable, products carrying the likeness of others who have not given their consent are just as unacceptable.
With that being said, there are always multiple sides to every story, and in the interest of fairness, The Outhouse would like to invite the person or people who make decisions for 2 Image Solutions to explain their side of the story. If there is any mitigating evidence or explanations that could be made in your defense, we would be glad to hear them. If it is found that there are any significant differences from what has been reported, I will personally rescind this article and make full apoligies to those affected.
(Note: Despite using their Logo, this is not a condemation of Anime Next. In fact, we learned after publishing that the vendor was removed from the premises, though other reports are saying he was let back in.)
(Once again, the author of this article would like to thank Carrie Wink for breaking the story)
Update: My sources have found the person in charge of the Vendor carrying these products. He has been contacted in private in the hopes of generating a response to what has been written. More on this as it breaks.
Update #2: We have received information that we incorrectly identified the Loki cosplayer and in accordance with that, the article has been edited. The Author regrets the error.
Update #3: We have recieved an email and a packet containing signed releases from Eric Pearce of 2 Image Productions. Eric claims that he is morally and legally in the right, that all participants signed releases, and that the pillows are only 12" x 8" (though they certainly appear bigger in the first photograph above). You can read more about that here.
Update #4: Marie Grey has published a very detailed blog post on this subject here.
Update #5: 2 Image Productions has decided to pull the pillows from their merchandise. A full statement can be found here.