By Katherine Erlikh
Cosplayers attending AnimeNext this past weekend had a nasty surprise in store for them. A small company, 2 Image Solutions, was found to be selling body pillows with the images of cosplayers on them in the dealer’s room. The majority of the cosplayers involved were shocked to discover this. While some had done photoshoots with 2 Image Solutions, they had not okayed the use of their likenesses on body pillows. Others hadn’t done shoots with the company at all, and signed no agreements whatsoever with them.
For example, Marie Grey, the cosplayer depicted on the Dark Phoenix pillow, states that while she had done a shoot with Eric of 2 Image Solutions and signed a limited agreement allowing the company to use the photos from the shoot for some promotional materials back in February 2012, she had not been told that body pillows with her image on them would be made, then or at any point afterwards. She did not feel that the body pillows were an appropriate object to promote the company’s services:
“The services being promoted are moving digital images (literally, a cosplayer spinning around in a circle). Using a stationary photo on a pillow to market a moving image does not promote his services. His services listed on his website do not include pillow mass production, and is therefore out of the scope of his business.”
Ms Grey notes that the photographer had not requested her ID during the photoshoot, which, while she was over 18 is a formality that should be done during any photoshoot – especially one where the photos may be used for promotional purposes. While Ms Grey is over the age of 18, it is possible that some of the cosplayers portrayed on body pillows for sale at the con were not of age. I myself have done a lot of modeling, though not as a cosplay model. I know for a fact that photographers have to check ID of a model, especially if they advertise “erotic photography” and “fetish photography” as services available on their website. The worst part? The post notes that the pillows aren’t printed on only one side; the back side of the pillow is the same pose of the same cosplay… but from the back. On a body pillow. Yeah. We don’t really have to explain further, do we?
In addition, it was reported in several articles that the unnamed Lady Loki cosplayer also had signed a similar deal with 2 Image Solutions; however, no statement from her is currently available.
Another cosplayer, Pixie Belle, found out that her cosplay photos had mysteriously mutated into body pillows sold by 2 Image Solutions when she passed by the booth at Anime Next with a couple of friends. When she confronted the owner of the company, she was told that the sale of these items was legal, because they were promotional items. “Since when did promotions gets charged? All I can say is I wasn't told these were going to be made when I SPECIFICALLY talked to him last year what he was going to do with the photos and I do not approve of it at all. He was selling these in the dealers room of the convention he took them at last year thinking the cosplayers would be okay with it,” stated Pixie Belle on her Facebook page. She notes that there were smaller ones and larger ones; when she expressed her opinion that the pillows were perhaps rather inappropriate, she was instead told by the company owner that she was a rather hot seller, in a misguided attempt to placate her.
Amongst those who did not sign any agreement with 2 Image Solutions or even done photoshoots with them is Dustin Dorough, a cosplayer most known for his Superman shoots. “I've NEVER signed any sort of photo release for the outfit on that pillow. It's a candid photo from Dragon*Con 2012 and I'm pretty sure it's a photo my friend took that the pillow people stole from Facebook or Flickr,” he stated on his official Facebook page. He also indicated on his Facebook page that he intends to pursue legal action against the company.
It is likely that others who have not signed any sort of agreement with 2 Image Solutions have ended up on a body pillow or other unauthorized promotional materials. As far as we are aware, none of the cosplayers have been paid royalties or even a fee for doing the photoshoots with the company. 2 Image Solutions has an extensive cosplay shoot gallery on DeviantArt; most of the images seem to be ready to be printed onto a cheaply made body pillow on a moment’s notice. While Eric of 2 Image Solutions claims to have received signed releases stating he could use the photos for anything, including body pillows, several cosplayers do not agree with that statement. Considering how sloppily the whole operation seems to be run, it is likely that body pillows featuring cosplayers under the age of 18 were made and sold by the company. Issues with parental consent aside, this is really inappropriate if you think about what body pillows are normally used for.
In the meantime, if you need a suspicious body pillow or other photography services, you can check out the official 2 Image Services site, which features website design that was the height of technological sophistication in the late ‘90s and an extensive “gallary” section.