Using Bjd-Based Characters

Mar 6, 2018

    1. So this may sound really silly but, as an artist going to school for comic/graphic novel-making, is it unethical to use and claim copyrights to characters that are based on bjds? Like... I'm drawing the characters in my own style and stylizing them based on wigs/eyes/accessories I buy and make for them and creating their personalities and stuff, but I know the company has rights to the sculpt/face :? I just don't want to end up publishing a graphic novel with a character who's unethically "stolen" if that makes sense? *_*
      I truly appreciate any feedback on this, thank you!! :aheartbea
    2. I am not a lawyer, but I believe since you are changing mediums and not using the exact likeness you are fine. You are the one creating the character. The doll company owns the sculpt and likeness, but not your general character design. Haircolor/style, eyecolor/style, etc are not part of their intellectual property.
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    3. ^This. Unless you are drawing hyper - realistic artwork that look like you've taken photos of BJDs and claim they are based on your own original sculpts then sell the artworks for profit - that's a grey area but definitely unethical.

      However lots of people use their dolls to draw their own characters and graphic novels, that's completely fine so there's no need to worry.

      If photographers can do something so provocative as take close up photos of other people's artwork and display it in galleries as their own work, drawing characters based on BJDs is completely harmless!!

      You have nothing to worry about, you're not doing anything wrong and certainly aren't breaking any copyright laws.
    4. Here's my not-a-lawyer two cents on the idea... It sounds like you are using the bjds as models/actors in stories and settings of your own design. it might almost be just a fancy version of using one of those small wooden mannequins from the art supply store ;)
      If the material is for your student work, I would think it could come under fair-use categories and be ok. If the material were going to be published,and sold, I think common courtesy would be to say in the forward that your "models" were from such-and-such company, and perhaps ask their permission, if you are selling the material.
      And while I was typing this, I was remembering that Mattel is very careful about Barbie, and had gone after some doll artists, so I looked up a couple things. I found a case where an artist used Barbie, and Mattel sued him, but lost the case. ( Tom Forsythe - Wikipedia )
      Good luck with your work, sounds very cool!
    5. I've used my Kara Klum (Dollmore) to draw off of several times, and have made the dolls resemble my art....Dollmore really loved it when they saw them at Dollism in 2014. The characters I draw/write are all 100% mine, I just have the dolls as a "real" version of them, and drawing aid.

      I would agree that any super-obvious images should be credited, and if you're heavy-handed with the model a model credit is always nice.
    6. Drawing from your own custom doll = OK! :)

      Drawing "character design" based on a doll you chose the clothes, wig, eyes, etc for = OK! :)

      Copying another person's photograph = Not OK :(

      Using the "character design" of another artist (ie. LE full set dolls) = Not OK :(

      So, I think your situation is fine, as long as you're drawing freehand and not doing an exact replica of someone else's IP (ie. tracing your own photograph of the sculpt). As long as the clothing is not a 'unique' design that has been presented in an illustration, it should be OK too. It's fine to draw outfits based on the real thing, but if the original maker has posted an illustration of the outfit (like on this RingDoll product page), they own the design to the outfit in 2D form as well and you should not copy it.
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    7. Since the drawing will not 100% look like the original sculpts, not to mention you will give them emotions and "facial movements", they will look different and not as a stolen sculpt :)
    8. Wow great comments on here! I agree! You can use it as a base. You know you are not "stealing their work" because you are changing attributes physically (and hopefully some of the social attributes as well).
    9. I don't see it as an issue if you are using your own characters that you created and designed yourself. Even if your inspiration is a BJD with various clothes and accessories from existing companies, unless you are stealing their character ideas or unique fullsets or fashion logos (or taking character ideas from random people), I just see BJDs as a medium for expressing your character. If you're drawing your own character whose look was based on BJD, I think that's fine. If you're doing photostories with your BJDs to publish for profit, that may require company permission. I'm looking at this more from a moral/ethical standpoint than legal, btw.
    10. This is a really good topic. Like others before me, i agree that as long as the concept and design isn't preconceived already and it's your original idea, that everything will be fine. It's like artist who use references and things. If in doubt, always put an inspiration credit if you don't feel 100% certain in your design being your own.
    11. Wow thank you all so much for your replies and advice I very much appreciate it!! :aheartbea:chibi:aheartbea I don't draw hyper-realistically and I'm not using the character design of another artist so I think you all are right <3 I just hate it so much when people steal work so I just wanted to be extra-careful :aangel:
      Thank you so much!!! :sumomo:
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    12. @stormi I think its great that you are aware of the issue and careful about it!