Last night, the creative team behind a highly anticipated fan-made product Persona 5 anthology magazine announced that their project lead confessed to spending $27,600 CAD (approximately $21,300 USD) of the magazine’s funds for “personal use”. The initial funds were used to print and ship unofficial artwork and merchandise to customers. One of the fanzine artists claimed that the main organizer, the person in charge of Ree, used the embezzled money to play The Genshin effect.
Showtime is an unofficial magazine featuring the Joker and Crow characters from the popular RPG by Atlus Persona 5. In response to allegations of embezzlement, the project’s five remaining employees removed Ree from the executive team (meaning “management team” in the plant world). However, they said they could not take legal action, because of all Showtime Pre-order money is handled through Ree’s personal account and the team has never contracted her. The mods plan to hold a fundraiser to complete the backlog of pre-orders.
Kotaku contact staff of Showtimedeclined to comment. Kotaku also contacted Ree, but could not receive a response at the time of publication.
Fanzine accused Ree of lying to her team members and fake screenshots for months, concealing evidence of financial misappropriation. However, the project struggled for a while.
In January, Showtime tweeted that its shipping moderator was sick coronavirusbut comment below the tweet shown that customers had not received transparent information about the magazine’s shipping status for months.
On May 2, Ree back from shipping orders, but retains sole control over the project’s finances. Graphic designer Aryll acknowledge customer concerns about the magazine’s financial position and Showtime released its financial spreadsheet a day later. As of May 15, the project has raised nearly $90,000 CAD (~$69,600 USD).
After news of the alleged embezzlement surfaced yesterday, Zubatzo, one of the magazine’s contributing page artists, tweeted that the moderators trusted Ree because she previously moderated five successful magazine projects. In now protected tweets, she claims, based on a message Ree sent to other moderators, that Ree spent money on The Genshin effect and take away food.
Kotaku cannot independently verify these claims, but Ree said Game that she spent money on Genshin and things like pluses, magazines, and daily bills. In any case, the mention of HoYoverse’s hit mobile RPG has begun important discussion about the danger of gacha game. Some Twitter users have shown that it is mathematically impossible to spend the entire embezzled money on Genshinand others blamed the general unprofessional and lack of recourse in magazine projects.
This is what we do know: Fan-produced magazine projects like Showtime are creative endeavors fraught with risk. IP Law means the company may decide to sue the artists fan content creators, especially if said content is sold or generates income. The risk is even higher for gay artists looking to create LGBTQ content featuring official characters.
The legal gray environment of fandom can foster creative expression, but it also means creators often do not sign valid contracts together. And customers do not have easy recourse when their promised goods are not delivered for months. Thus, we can see Showtime In part, this incident is the unfortunate result of the fan community being forced to operate in the dark by media corporations holding intellectual property rights.
According to its statement, Showtimethe rest of the censors talk to a lawyer on June 22, but were told they could not pursue legal action against Ree. The Showtime The team has promised to provide a new financing sheet as it tries to raise funds for postage to fulfill remaining pre-orders.