As the news of Revolutionary Girl Utena anime director’s lawsuit gained traction, the author of Sword Art Online, Reki Kawahara, took to his Twitter account on Oct 16, 2023, to share a similar incident that happened in his life as well.
According to Kawahara, he was once contacted by someone who claimed to be the original author of Sword Art Online.
What intrigued the author was the reaction of the person in question. He was not angry but rather surprised as to why the work was being published without his consent. This left the author confused and didn’t know what to reply.
“A while ago, I also received a message from someone claiming to be the original author of SAO. Surprisingly, this person wasn’t angry but rather puzzled, wondering why their own work was being published without their consent. I didn’t know how to respond to that…“
At that time, it became evident to Kawahara that proving oneself as the creator and copyright holder of a piece of work is more complex than it may initially appear. Although there exists a copyright registration system within the Agency for Cultural Affairs, it does not always offer any definitive evidence of an individual’s position as the copyright holder.
“At that time, I realized that proving that you are the originator and copyright holder of a work isn’t as straightforward as one might think. While there is a copyright registration system in the Agency for Cultural Affairs, it doesn’t necessarily provide definitive proof of one’s status as the copyright holder.“
However, he went on say that if an individual were to file a lawsuit against him alleging that SAO is plagiarised, he could easily provide evidence by pointing to the announcement he made on his website in 2002. But establishing the originality of the work would require quite the amount of documentation and effort.
“Suppose someone were to file a lawsuit against me, claiming that SAO is a plagiarism. In that case, I could easily demonstrate that I had announced it on my website in 2002. Still, proving that the work itself is original would require a substantial amount of documentation and effort.“
In order to address such challenges, Kawahara wished for the existence of certificates similar to patents that would provide clear certification of authorship and copyright ownership. Nevertheless, he also acknowledged the potential for such a system to be abused.
Given that such challenges are to increase or decrease in the future, he hopes to see measures that can alleviate the challenges faced by creators to some extent.
“I sometimes wish there were certificates similar to patents for this purpose, but if such a system were in place, it might also be vulnerable to misuse. However, as such troubles are likely to increase rather than decrease in the future, I hope for measures that can at least somewhat reduce the burden on creators. The end!“
Reki Kawahara is a Japanese novelist. He is best known as the creator of Sword Art Online and Accel World, both of which have been adapted into anime.
Kawahara wrote the first volume of Sword Art Online in 2001 as a competition entry for the 2002 ASCII Media Works Dengeki Game Novel Prize, but refrained from submitting it as he had exceeded the page limit; he instead published it as a web novel under the pen name Fumio Kunori.
He then entered the first Accel World novel into ASCII Media Works’ 15th Dengeki Novel Prize in 2008 and the novel won the Grand Prize.
After gaining fame from the Dengeki award, Kawahara republished Sword Art Online in print. 26 volumes have been published as of June 2022, as well as eight volumes of Sword Art Online: Progressive.