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Tuesday, November 15, 2022 

Game Rant makes a big deal out of a mangaka's joke about Elon Musk

It would seem a computer game site took a mangaka's joke out of context for the sake of attacking billionaire Tesla founder Elon Musk, who recently bought out Twitter. First, here's what Anime News Network was reporting, and what they say is suspect too:
Twitter's controversial new CEO, Elon Musk, is an avid Twitter user, although not every user appreciates his presence on the platform. Between the flashier headlines around his business and personal life, Musk has faced mild criticism in the past for posting uncredited fanart, among other violations of Twitter etiquette.

Magical Girl Site manga creator Kentarō Satō has also chimed in by pointing out that a meme Musk posted in March uses artwork from his manga. "Twitter's new CEO Elon Musk has been posting my drawings without permission, so I'd like a usage fee of one billion. In dollars," he tweeted on Monday. [...]

Although Satō's comment can be interpreted in a joking light, other Twitter users have argued in reply that reproducing an artist's illustration in the form of an internet meme without their permission is a copyright violation. While this particular offense would not be limited to Musk's posts, Satō's fans are egging him on in the beef. After all, Musk did purchase Twitter for US$44 billion—surely he could spare another billion for an artist who brings value to the platform.
So ANN's attempting to make it sound like Musk doesn't practice as he preaches (and Kotaku's attacking him too). At least they're willing to admit what this really appears to be: a case of an artist joking about wanting to get paid for the use of an illustration for a meme. But if millions of other people make use of the same drawing as Musk did, and nobody made an issue of it till now, then they shouldn't start with Musk either. Yet that's exactly what Game Rant did when they followed up on this news with a commentary that makes it out to sound like a completely different story, all for the sake of delegitimizing a business entrepreneur's right to invest in what ventures he or she sees fit:
Elon Musk has been infamous in the news over the past couple of weeks ever since the multi-billionaire took over as Twitter's new CEO. Since then, Twitter has been a hot topic of conversation, and not positively. In his long line of Twitter etiquette violations so far, one of the ones in the spotlight now is his usage of uncredited art.

One artist has stood up to this public figure, though, and declared that enough is enough. Kentarou Satou is the mangaka behind the manga Magical Girl Site, and his art was part of a meme posted by Elon Musk back in March. Because it was posted without his credit or permission, Satou has posted on his own Twitter that he wants Musk to pay him one billion dollars in royalties.

[...] While his original post may have just been a joke, the mangaka has a good point. Posting uncredited art without an artist's permission is plain bad manners, and no one has an excuse these days for doing it. Elon Musk might have to literally pay himself out of his problem, if Satou can get legal grounds for his claim (even if he does not get his original request of a full $1 billion USD).
And just why does this suddenly matter now? I hesitate to think what would happen if a guy like the late Sheldon Adelson had bought Twitter (and for all we know, somebody like him might do just that in the future), and the propagandist who penned the above had run the gauntlet of regurgitating the offensive antisemitic trope of "Jews controlling the media", which is as hurtful to the memory of Jerry Siegel, Joe Shuster and Stan Lee as to anybody else. It's weird that somebody who happens to have a Twitter account of his own is resorting to this kind of smear tactic. Yet he's certainly what ANN alluded to - somebody using the platform who doesn't appreciate his presence.

Maybe it's not appropriate to use other people's artwork, but, that's what's been happening with the art of artists like J. Scott Campbell over the years, and I even remember a page from X-Men in the mid-80s with Kitty Pryde being altered to serve as memes (it was originally the first page of a story where the title in the word balloon was Kitty declaring, "Professor Xavier is a Jerk"). What matters is whether anybody's exploiting the art of notable artists to profit money from; that's what can be illegal and call for lawsuits. You cannot sell art that doesn't belong to you. And if Musk or anybody else who made use of the meme hasn't, then no serious calamity's occurred.

I don't think Sato meant to cause any inconvenience for Musk, but it's clear the MSM did, and they shouldn't have. A shame they're tearing down on Musk just because his politics don't coincide with theirs, and now they're even exploiting the comment of a mangaka from Japan for the sake of their agenda.

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  • From Jerusalem, Israel
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