Pictures of costumed fans were being sold on giant body pillows, without the cosplayers' consent. Can you even imagine the horror of seeing a stranger lugging a giant pillow — with your back side printed on the back? Luckily, the company behind these pillows tells io9 they've agreed to stop selling them.
Yesterday cosplayer Carrie Wink posted this video, after attending AnimeNext. At the convention, Wink discovered that in the dealer's room 2ImageSolutions was selling body pillows (and small pillows) of various cosplayers they had photographed at different conventions, for profit. Unaware cosplayers were having their fronts AND BACKS plastered on a giant pillow and being sold to strangers. The cosplayers were (understandably) not happy.
We reached out to the Superman Costumer (shown above) Dustin Dorough via email who expressed his concern
"I originally thought that they'd used a stolen convention candid photo without permission, but upon learning of the identity of the seller I realized that this was not the case. Not quite, anyway. I met the "photographer" at Dragon*Con 2012 and he took 12 photos of me on a turntable for the sake of making a rotating gif image. He asked me to sign a model release so that he could post the image on his website. I actually did read over the release before signing and saw nothing in there that seemed as though it could be used on a product...
The seller has released a public statement saying that he is within his legal and moral rights to be selling these pillows.
[EDIT NOTE: seller has now changed their stance see below.]
His legal rights are highly questionable at best, but his moral rights are non-existent. Even if he had an iron-clad model release (which he doesn't), selling these images on pillows without telling the models is despicable. Even if these aren't "body pillows", they are still pillows. Something that goes in someone's bed. I'm sure many costumers would be severely creeped-out having their pictures on something of this nature. It's simply not right to do that without talking to them about it. Prints are one thing, while pillows are another entirely."
Another costumer, Marie Grey described the whole nightmare ordeal of trying to purchase a body-sized pillow of herself from the vendor on her website. Only to be rejected and told that the vendors were within their legal rights to sell pictures on pillows to strangers.
Thankfully, the costumers' outrage has been heard. We reached out to 2ImageSolutions, who told us they're discontinuing the sale of the cosplay pillows. And all existing pillows will be given only to the person whose image was printed on each pillow, free of charge. Thank goodness.
The unique service that 2imagesolutions offers is to provide the attendees of these events with a 360° record of their costumes. It's a fun way for the people we photographed to be able to remember how they dressed at these events. We still believe that is a fun way to see and show off our costumes to our friends and family.
At our booth, we had pillows and prints of a few costumes that were available for purchase. We were VERY selective with the ones we chose, and out of the hundreds and hundreds of panoramas we have taken, only a handful were used (about 10 of them). We chose the ones that we felt were the best of the best and exemplified the spirit of the event. Although each of the people we used signed a model release, some of people were upset that we used their images. We did not mean to upset people, and felt that people chosen would be flattered to be among the few chosen.
As a result, our business model has changed: In the past, we were selling products with images of others as well as custom-ordered prints of themselves. This was meant to inspire people to elevate the level of their own costumes. We would like to assure participants that any pictures of them that we have taken WILL NO LONGER BE SOLD AT OUR BOOTHS OR AVAILABLE TO THE GENERAL PUBLIC. The products will be available ONLY to those of whom the pictures were taken. Any future products will be special-order so that the attendees will be able to order prints and merchandise of themselves and themselves only. We would like everyone to know that their privacy is of utmost importance to us and that we did not intend to violate their privacy in any way.
2imagesolutions will still honor our commitment to send the attendees the 360° pictorials by email in a Flash file, but would like to reemphasize that they will not be distributed in any way to anyone other than themselves without their express permission.
We are instituting this change as a result of feedback we received. We appreciate your understanding and assure you that our intentions were to celebrate the events and attendees of these events for their enthusiasm and the efforts they put into creating fun and unique costumes.
While we disagree that it's "fun" to distribute and sell pillows with someone's face and body on them without express permission, we're really glad this was resolved.
Images via Carrie Wink and Linwood Knight.