This is probably the worst possible way to kick off my blog, but there are so many things that need to be corrected…
In an attempt to be the first to report it, Linwood Knight wrote an article for The Outhousers regarding a vendor at AnimeNEXT selling pillows of varying sizes with cosplayers’ images on either side. His information was gathered from the comments on my friend’s Facebook status, and no one directly involved was interviewed to clarify the hearsay that was written within the comments. He then went on to publish the article, filled with improper credits and a severely large amount of fallacies about the events of this past weekend. I understand wanting to be the first to break the news, but have a little bit of journalistic integrity before you post things like this.
Anyway, I decided to take the time to explain what actually happened…
On Saturday evening, I received a tweet from my friend Carrie with a photo of me in my Dark Phoenix cosplay emblazoned on a pillow. She asked me if I was okay with it. Obviously…I was not. Upon getting my response, she spoke with the vendor (Eric of Imagesolutions), who claimed I had signed an agreement stating he could sell my image whichever way he pleased without asking. Once she got the head of the dealer’s room involved, it was a different story. Within an hour, I was informed that the vendor was ejected from the convention and would not be allowed back into the dealer’s room the following day.
Fast-forward to the following morning. I received a phone call from the head of the dealer’s room, informing me that the pillows were within the vendor’s right to sell because they were being marketed as promotional material for his services, something that was in fact allowed according to the agreement I signed in February 2012. He was allowed back into the convention center and continued to sell the pillows.
And this is where the problems lie. The services being promoted are moving digital images (literally, a cosplayer spinning around in a circle). Using a stationary photo on a pillow to market a moving image does not promote his services. His services listed on his website do not include pillow mass production, and is therefore out of the scope of his business. So how would this be allowed?
Furthermore, like don’t recall him checking my ID to ensure like was of age at the time of my shoot. Who’s to say that he didn’t photograph minors and is now selling their photos? That screams shady and illegal.
The vendor also would not let my friend Carrie buy my pillow (specifically mine) on Sunday to remove it from his stock. He then removed it from display instead, but still kept it. Another cosplayer and friend of mine, Pixie Belle, managed to buy the pillow with her cosplaying Marvel X-Men’s Pixie. After buying it, the vendor exclaimed, “That’s one of our most popular ones!” She then informed him that she was the cosplayer pictured and didn’t approve of him selling the pillows.
But it wasn’t until then that we learned what was on the back of the pillows…our butts. So not only do I have to deal with the idea of having my image all over pillows, but now I have to deal with the fact that my rear end is on every single one of them. As if cosplayers don’t already have to deal with being over-sexualized, now this vendor is promoting that idea and the people running AnimeNEXT are condoning that activity.
I will not sit here and let that happen, and I’m determined to fight this until this guy stops. I’m not looking for monetary compensation, but would rather just know that I can go to a convention and feel safe. I want to know that the other people there have common decency to go about their business without exploiting others to make a quick buck. We don’t need that kind of behavior in this community and I’d like to see those running conventions acknowledge how harmful this could be to cosplayers.
EDIT 8:02 PM: At this time, 2 Image Solutions has agreed to change their policy and will no longer be selling posters, prints, pillows, stickers and other materials of cosplayers unless the individual cosplayer requests the products themselves. Thank you, Eric, for listening to us and following our wishes! For a reference to his new policy, please go here.