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Good and Bad news regarding the “Akira Kurosawa’s Paintings” page

There is a series of good and bad news regarding the Akira Kurosawa’s Paintings section on this website:

Good: Some time ago I was contacted by HoriPro Inc., the company that currently holds the license to Akira Kurosawa’s drawings and paintings. I am always happy when I get in contact with Kurosawa-related people.

Bad: Unfortunately, they were not entirely happy with the fact that I was displaying pictures of Kurosawa’s paintings on this website. Despite of their small size and number, they saw this as copyright infringement and asked me to remove the images. Apparently, the decision is not entirely theirs, but is a strong wish from the Kurosawa Productions who owns the copyrights.

Good: HoriPro’s request and other communication has been extremely kind and understanding. Furthermore, I can understand that they are keen to keep control of the distribution of these images, as only that way can their value in terms of exhibitions and reproductions be maintained at a level that makes it possible to do business with them.

Bad: All the images that previously appeared on the page have now been removed.

Good: The kind people at HoriPro Inc. have agreed to provide me a set of images with which to replace the old ones. They are now available at the redesigned Akira Kurosawa’s Paintings section.

Bad: Unlike the original images displayed on this site, these new images are not the ones that I originally displayed — a selection that was more or less based on my personal tastes and ideas of what would be a representational set of Kurosawa’s painted arts. This also prevents me from doing what I had been thinking of doing in the future: creating a more in-depth section about the paintings by looking at their influences, as well as in the case of storyboard paintings comparing them to the scenes in the films that they depict.

Good: But at least now I am clear of all copyright infringements.

Bad: The images come with a rather visible “SAMPLE” text on them. While this rightfully prevents anyone from making any commercial use of them, it also slightly hinders enjoying these images.

Good: There are now links to HoriPro’s Akira Kurosawa Drawings Shop where you can purchase reproductions of these and other drawings and paintings. These come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, as well as materials ranging from the more conventional paper/cardboard and postcards to memo pads, shirts, bags, fridge magnets, mirrors, bookmarks, fans, mouse pads, coasters, key rings, and even micro-fibre cleaning cloths so that you can wipe your glasses or computer screens with official Akira Kurosawa merchandise. They also have the Akira Kurosawa Digital Museum CD-ROM on sale, as well as some collectible figures.




So basically its all about money, and they willing to force removal of a informative sites content for no real valid reason.
How exactly do they infringe on copyright laws, you are not selling the images, claiming them as your own, and they are small sized useless for anything illegal. Displaying a small image that is not owned, is most of the content of nearly every site on the internet.
At best guess I suppose their fear comes from the fact that you could take the images you provided and use another website such as cafepress to make a shirt or other item for a much cheaper price. Granted this is illegal but the images you have really are too small. Among that you were not promoting such a thing, nor was the intention of this images for such use.
Should removal of images be demanded from every information outlet, because their is a slim chance that so one could possibly do something slightly illegal. To be safe perhaps shutting down the internet is the best solution.

I love how “sample” is right over the composition lines of some paintings, so any key figure in the image has a lovely letter over. Thankfully the problem can be solved, I just simply need to pay to get a shirt printed, then I get to see what is Kurosawa felt the need to paint, quite I noble idea. Furthermore I can take his artwork and plaster it on a coffee cup, no better way to show appreciation then to have his art hold my coffee, best of all its dishwasher safe. Surely Kurosawa would feel proud to find is art within my dishwasher and washing machine.

Vili, I fully understand you have no choice, this is not a attack on you. I just think it stupid for the owners to cause problems to the only Kurosawa site that has updated, useful information. This site can do nothing but promote Kurosawa films and art generating interest, that will generate the money they so desperately feel they most make off a man no longer living.


Vili Maunula

I must say that I personally see your point, although I also see the issue from the point of view of HoriPro Inc. I am of course not entirely happy about having to replace my hand-picked gallery with a more random assortment of images, but then again I understand that selling Kurosawa merchandise is not a huge business, so they need to guard their rights.

Another point that they made, and which I think is sort of valid, is that by not allowing a wide range of Kurosawa’s images to be displayed on the web, they keep the interest there for the exhibitions that they have on Kurosawa’s painted arts. I have personally visited two of these exhibitions, and they have bee truly wonderful places to be in. Of course, whether a dozen or so small-resolution images would really hinder anyone from visiting such an exhibition is something you may agree or disagree about.

Another point that I should probably mention is that as far as I understand from the email exchanges that I have had with HoriPro, they are actually contractually obliged to guard the copyrights as part of their licensing agreement with Kurosawa Productions. So they don’t (or so I believe) really have a choice in the matter.


Vili Maunula

I think that I should probably also add that HoriPro Inc. has been extremely kind with their communication throughout all of this.

Indeed, it is not like they would have threatened to sue me or anything. Instead, they simply very professionally pointed out what the situation was. Which I really appreciated.



(Double post. See here.)

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