Fanart or unfair ripoff? NU Pep Squad disowns reposted fan artworks

October 24, 2018 - 11:34 AM
Dia de los Muertos in Mexico
Decorated skulls commemorating Dia De Los Muertos or Day of the Dead in Mexico. (Andy Giraud/CC0)

A poster shared by the National University Pep Squad on social media was being questioned recently for ripping off an original design without attributing it.

The group had since deleted the post, but Twitter user Allen was able to take a screenshot of it and shared it online.

Allen, a student from the University of Santo Tomas, made a side-by-side comparison with the screenshot image and an identical image, which is possibly the source of the artwork.

Later that day, the NU Pep Squad clarified on Twitter that all the posters it shared on its social media accounts came from supporters.

“We haven’t released our official poster this year. All posters posted are all fan made and we just appreciate them all,” it said.

The NU Pep Squad had been receiving poster designs from students who support them.

Its social media handlers collated these works into an album titled “Appreciation Post” and shared it on October 14.

We would like to thank all our supporters for all the posters that was made in support to this season of uaap, we just…

Posted by NU Pep Squad on Saturday, October 13, 2018


It was here when the cheerdance squad first informed the public that the visuals they shared are not “official,” but only created by fans.

“We just want to inform everyone that we don’t own any graphics, vectors and photos used by our supporters in creating the posters. All the fan made posters are not the official poster of NU pep squad for this season,” the post read.

They also tagged the Facebook account of the artist they would repost.

Some people argued that the NU Pep Squad should have credited the person who produced the artworks, despite them not being official.

The Mexican Day of the Dead

The visuals suggest that the next routine of the four-time champions for the UAAP Cheerdance Competition in November is inspired by the Day of the Dead celebration or “Dia de los Muertos” of Mexico. It is celebrated every November 1, the same as the All Saints’ Day feast observed in the Philippines.

Some of the fan-made posters even bear elements from Disney’s award-winning movie “Coco,” which is also based on the Mexican tradition.

A quick Google search shows that the now-deleted poster is a previously released artwork..

Screenshot of a Google search

The same result shows up on Pinterest, the online platform where Allen got the photo he shared.

Screenshot of a Pinterest search

There’s even an online tutorial where other aspiring artists can create an exact copy of the artwork on their own.

With many copies created and shared online, tracing the original artist could be a challenge.

Copyright and fair use in the Philippines

The legality of fan-made work, in general, is vague because the idea is not original and only a manipulated or edited version.

However, it may be protected through the fair use doctrine in copyright law in a case-to-case basis. The fair use doctrine in the Philippines’ copyright law is similar to the version in the United States.

The website of the Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines explains how creative works should be treated if you want to use them. We applied the highlighted portions:

“Instances that may be considered fair use are situations wherein the original work is cited or imitated for personal use and education.

“Few situations in real life point to a black-and-white scenario for fair use but the balance of the right-holder and the user, is at the heart of the matter.

“The rights of a copyright owner—the economic and moral rights—merits a separate in-depth discussion but understanding both sides of copyright, as we play the role of both creator and consumer of it, serves as a useful guide when to give credit where it is due, and when to express ourselves as we see fit.”