Wikipedia:WikiProject Hello! Project/WP:H!P and the use of non-free images on Wikipedia

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Additional disclaimer[edit]

In addition to the above disclaimer, the original author of this post would like to point out that this essay, although extremely serious in subject and intent, contains some sarcasm and other dark humor in order to help further illustrate the points he makes in this essay. The author is not responsible for anyone who has these remarks go over their heads.

What's up?[edit]

Over the past several months, several Wikipedia participants – some administrators, many self-appointed guardians, a lot of the latter seemingly with too much time on their hands – have been policing the existence of non-free images. While this is understandable in theory, it has also opened up more problems that tend to cause more harm on Wikipedia than good.

Wikipedia's photo policy vs. WP:H!P's goals[edit]

Current Wikipedia photo policy claims that "Non-free content may be used on the English Wikipedia under fair use only where all 10 of the following criteria are met. These criteria are based on the four fair-use factors, the goal of creating a free encyclopedia, and the need to minimize legal exposure."[1]. These guidelines are not hard to follow.

At the same time, this policy "has lead to the tagging of images of living people with a fair use tag for deletion"[2] These guidelines are way too easy to follow and abuse, and whether in good faith or not, has led to a veritable holocaust on the quality of the articles on Wikipedia. Way too many times, I have seen album covers tagged as "replaceable" – and these are images that are normally accepted as fair use without an argument. [3]

Unfortunately, in the case of articles that are being edited and watched over by the members of WikiProject: Hello! Project, this has led to way too many arguments, often stemming from passionate defense of the hard work the members of WP:H!P put into these articles, between WP:H!P members and the culprits who have tagged the images used as replaceable.

In the interest of fairness, we at WP:H!P would love to try to use so-called "free" images of Morning Musume, their individual members, and their sister and spinoff bands, wherever possible. There's only one problem... those so-called "free" pictures don't exist!!.

Many of Wikipedia's anti-"non-free-image" adherents claim some sort of variant on the excuse that "no image is better than a non-free image". This is like saying having no heart is better than getting a heart transplant! (Which is not an altogether ironic comparison considering that some of the editors whose uploaded images have been deleted doubtlessly consider those that tagged and deleted their images to be heartless!) A missing image – or that stupid generic replacement graphic that encourages readers to pull a non-free image out of their nearest orifice – does more to degrade the quality of Wikipedia than a properly attributed, sourced, and rationalized fair-use image.

Here's where the problems come in...[edit]

In an article on the English-language Morning Musume news site Hello!Online, there is an article written for non-Japanese fans about attending a Morning Musume or other Hello! Project artist's concert. I bring this up because the persons who have tagged properly sourced images attached to articles maintained by WP:H!P have claimed that we or other Wikipedia participants can "easily create or locate free images" of our heroines. In the bizarro world of the anti-non-free-image police, perhaps. In the real world, it's quite the opposite.

Now, how do the anti-non-free-image experts expect us to "create free images"?[4]. Here's their suggestions, followed by my reasons why they're not likely to happen anytime soon:

  • If we see them on the street or in public somewhere.. Hardly likely even if any of us lived in Japan. Most of the Hello! Project members are usually too busy working to appear in public much. The only pictures I've ever seen of Hello! Project members in public were usually shitty pictures taken by stalkerazzi for use in shitty gossip magazines like Friday (this image of Ai Kago being "caught" smoking a fag in a restaurant a few weeks before she turned eighteen is one notorious example). If anyone has had the opportunity to photograph their favorite MoMusu member in public, they're probably shithoarding the picture for themselves.
  • If we attend a Morning Musume or other Hello! Project concert. Oh, we'd love to! I know I would in a heartbeat. Speaking personally, I myself would feel absolutely fulfilled to seeing my other favorite band in my lifetime, having had the pleasure of seeing The Stooges earlier this year. I'd love to bring back pictures from the concert. There's only two problems there. For one, I'll be spending too much of my attention focused on Reina Tanaka's face and booty. For another, and much more important, there's this little detail that the Hello!Online article I alluded to earlier mentions:
  • If we attend a non-concert public appearance. Well, Morning Musume and other Hello! Project acts have had these type of things in the past, but unfortunately, the same camera restrictions that are at H!P concerts apply here. The primary reason for this is because H!P are actually selling opportunities to be photographed with one's favorite band at these particular events. Even if these photos were "free images", I don't think that, for example, Berryz Koubou would be fairly represented by either this image of a 30-year-old man presenting flowers to 15-year-old Momoko Tsugunaga (while the rest of the band is going "Awwww!") or this image of a seemingly obsessed Risako Sugaya fan holding up his favorite photobook spread of her in her seemingly mortified presence[6]

Another editor (thanks, ReyBrujo!) has also just recently (7.7.07) informed me that Japanese public figures have what are called "personality rights" under Japanese law, meaning that a fan taking such images without their permission would basically violate those rights. (See commons:Commons:Deletion requests/Image:Utada Hikaru Kanto 2004.jpg)

With all that in mind, this is why WP:H!P supports the use of promotional photographs of Morning Musume and other Hello! Project personalities and acts under WP:FUC.

WP:H!P General Criteria And Rationale For Use of Promotional Photographs Under WP:FUC[edit]

Taking each of Wikipedia's ten criteria into point, here is a general argument for the use of those photographs under WP:FUC, point by point:

  1. No free equivalent. As this author has already established above in great detail, finding Jimmy Hoffa's body would be a much easier task than getting a "free" image of, say, Ai Takahashi. We have asked ourselves, "Can this image be replaced by a different one, while still having the same effect?" Unfortunately, constant Googling for so-called "free" images has presented us with the same answer: "No, it can't."
  2. Respect for commercial opportunities. The presence of, say, the most current promotional photo of Morning Musume, on their article, is highly unlikely to reduce the commercial opportunities that the artists of Hello! Project and their management company/talent agency, Up-Front Works. On the contrary – and even though this is most certainly not part of the goals of WP:H!P – we feel that the presence of these photos could actually enhance the marketability of Morning Musume and their fellow H!P artists.
  3. Minimal use and resolution.[7] Minimal use? Not a hard rule to follow. One photo should be the minimum anyway. (There are exceptions, but that can be argued on a case-by-case basis.) Resolution? Not a problem from this author's point of view. This aspect admittedly might confuse or not be understood by some of my fellow WP:H!P members, but that's nothing a quick message or e-mail to me can't fix. A minute or so in Photoshop and... ta-da! A "new" copy of the image in a resolution pleasing to everyone involved – WP:H!P, the readers, H!P's copyright, and Wikipedia itself.
  4. Previous publication. The great majority of the images that WP:H!P have used in the past, and wish to use in the future, circulate all over the Internet on countless sites and blogs devoted to Japanese pop music (I have frequently used these to illustrate H!P-related articles on my own music blog under the fair use clause of the US Copyright Act), in music magazines published in Japan, at the American-based Japanese pop wiki at, and in American magazines devoted to Japanese culture.
  5. Content. The images that WP:H!P have selected and used in the past, and wish to use in the future, often illustrate the public image/character of each member of the Hello! Project collective – which is different from "simply illustrating what they look like", a no-no on Wikipedia for non-free images. For example, Reina Tanaka has her "yankii" (rebel) image, Sayumi Michishige has her "cute as fuck" image (OK, H!P doesn't really call it that, but you get the idea...), Ai Kago and Nozomi Tsuji had their schoolgirl personas in their time with Morning Musume and their early years as W (Double You), and so forth.
  6. Media-specific policy. We've been following this rule since day one.
  7. One-article minimum. Another rule we've been following since day one.
  8. Significance. See "Content" above. (If I've confused the two, let me know so that we can understand the difference and I can fairly establish that WP:H!P can follow these guidelines to the letter.)
  9. Restrictions on location. Again, this is a rule we've been following since day one.
  10. Image description page. I personally have been following this rule very consistently, and so have other members of the project. There's been a couple that have not, but their intentions have been in good faith, and I personally have endeavored whenever possible to help correct this particular omission.

We can follow these rules without a problem. We respect them. We hope that in our doing so, you can respect our efforts to make the corner of Wikipedia that we like to maintain shine brightly.

And then there's the matter of illustrating the Ai Kago article...

Ai Kago and the Salinger/bin Laden rule[edit]

Early in 2007, Ai Kago was fired from Hello! Project for having a sexual liaison with an older, married man. Since the incident, even though there has been at least one report on Japanese TV news of Kago either signing with, or trying to sign with, another talent agency (depending on who did the translating of the article), she has not appeared in public since. There is a very good (yet unfortunate) chance that she may go into seclusion and never appear in public again. Not appearing in public equals no one being able to take a photograph of her. Simply put, this author feels that the JD Salinger/bin Laden rule should also apply to Ai Kago at the present time.


There is a happy medium somewhere between Wikipedia's current image policy and WP:H!P's (and presumably, many other Wikiproject's) goals. We would like to find it and remain there. Only then can Wikipedia be truly improved and thus move forward. Discussion is always a welcome option here. Being forced to back down never is.

See also[edit]

References and footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ unknown. "Wikipedia fair use policy". Retrieved 2007-07-01. 
  2. ^ unknown. "Deletion of all fair use images of living people". Retrieved 2007-07-01. .
  3. ^ By the way, here's a related bitch: how come some of these "editors" that catch unattributed album covers don't tag them with the {{Non-free album cover}} template instead of speedily deleting them? – and save countless Wikieditors some headaches?)
  4. ^ A ridiculous bit of terminology to begin with...
  5. ^ Universus (2006-03-10). "How to attend your first H!P concert: a guide". Retrieved 2007-07-01. 
  6. ^ On a side note, the look on Risako's face in the closeup version of the photo seems to scream, "Guess which finger I want to hold up".
  7. ^ I'm not using the word "fidelity" here as it appears on WP:FUC, since that word pertains to audio files, not visual ones.
  8. ^ Boo! Hiss!