Submit LINE Stickers: Terms of Use, Restrictions, Censorship



You have designed and created a set of stickers, animated or not, and are now ready to submit it for review. Nearly there!


2. SUBMIT YOUR STICKERS FOR REVIEW


When submitting your stickers, you will have to agree with Terms of Agreement and LINE Creators Market Terms and Conditions of Use, through which we learn new pieces of capital information. Then your stickers may get approved (good for you) or rejected (too bad), but even if your stickers are rejected, you may still learn something of LINE's hidden guidelines.


2.1. TERMS OF AGREEMENT


When clicking on the Submit for Review button, Terms of Agreement now pops up:


A few things to infer from those Terms regarding copyrights (in addition to what we were told in the Guidelines, see PT. 1):
- LINE does not want to be involved in copyright problems: you should check that your stickers do not violate any copyrights, and if a copyright claim is made, your stickers will most likely be banned at once.
- LINE does not care about copyright problems among stickers creators, which may mean that you are allowed by LINE to copy someone else's stickers. Which may be a questionable issue. Without a satisfying reply from LINE.

These Terms also refer to the LINE Creators Market Terms and Conditions of Use.


2.2. LINE CREATORS MARKET TERMS AND CONDITIONS OF USE


You should read it all. Really.
Let us dwell on a few interesting points.

2.2.1. Regarding Accounts:


Of note:
- 4.4.2) = You may not speak badly of LINE. Or your account will be terminated. That's quite something.
- 4.4.5) = Inactive accounts can be terminated without notice.

 2.2.2. Regarding Privacy:


A very interesting piece of literature.

It starts by asserting the importance of the designers' privacy.
Well, for starters, privacy should be a choice. As of now, there is no way at all to contact a sticker creator. None. (Unless you know him/her from chat, ofc.) Which means there is no direct communication between the creator and those who buy their stickers. All has to go through LINE. This is not about privacy. This is about control. And this is a good example of complete control.

The second paragraph is weird, most probably because of translation errors, but we get the gist of it, i.e.: you have no more privacy in two cases:
- if LINE decides that you may (!) harm or have harmed LINE's reputation (!)(What can that mean?! Is writing these very lines harming LINE's reputation? Am I going to get banned without notice for it?)
- or if a third party claims that you have violated any ToS, law or whatever (written by LINE or not) and if LINE decides that you may violate or have violated the said ToS, law or whatever. And knowing what position LINE takes regarding copyrights quarrel (see 2.1. above), this is not reassuring (for the incriminated creators, ofc).

This part also links, for the first time, to LINE Privacy Policy. This is basically a vague explanation of what kind of private information LINE stores and how it is used. We learn that 'safe' third party providers handle our personal info too.


2.2.3. Regarding Contents:


When you submit stickers, you lose your moral rights regarding your work: LINE (or even a third party!) can use and modify it as they please and (cf. Terms of Agreement above) they do not care about copyright claims or issues between Creators. This is actually illegal in many European countries, among others, where it is impossible for creators to give up their moral rights concerning their works. International treaties work in the same way. (More info here, here, here, here, and particularly in Japan, where LINE Corporation is based, and where moral rights cannot be waived).


Now we're talking business. LINE reviews and if the content is 'appropriate', LINE distribues, 'for a fee'. And now an important point: LINE may further restrict (even though your 'content' was approved) or terminate its distribution, without notice, and without you even noticing it (because you have no way to know what was sold where).

2.2.4. Regarding Revenue:



This is important! it's about the money you make when selling your stickers through LINE.
Basically (9.1.b), take the sale price, minus a 30% fee (for sale platforms), and divide it by 2. That means that if someone buys one sticker for $1.00, you get (1-30% = 0.70) : 2 = $0.35.
There is VAT (Value-Added Tax) too, but the whole paragraph is unclear (if VAT is applicable, it is entailed in the price, and you get to get the VAT, hence you also get to pay it to whichever entitled entity)(i.e. LINE does not want to pay VAT to the respective Countries).
There also is an obscure 'Withholding Tax'. Which is 20% for most of the world. So when someone buys one of your stickers, you get in fact $0.28. Out of the supposed $1.00 sale. True, better than nothing. But, yeah?
You can actually waive this Withholding Tax, depending on your country of financial residence, if you submit an Application Form for Income Tax Convention. You basically have to get a proof of residence from your tax office, fill a bunch of papers (scroll down on the Q&A page linked right above to get links to all papers), and send them to LINE in Japan. I did that and it worked.


2.2.5. Regarding Restrictions:


You may not do all these things (and more) or your account may be terminated.

2.2.6. Regarding Liabilities:


LINE is responsible for nothing. We had guessed that much.


Moreover, these Terms and Conditions of Use refer to the STICKER REVIEW GUIDELINES which we have met in the Previous Section of this tutorial.


Once you have submitted your sticker set, all you have to do is wait.

After some time (currently about one week), your set is either Approved or Rejected.
If it was Approved, all is good, you're almost done.
If it was Rejected, you got a message in the Message Center, that states in laconic fashion the reasons for the rejection. You have to take those into account and modify or replace the incriminated stickers.

Now let's have a look at the rejections and at the messages from LINE staff, and see if we can infer any useful information from them.


2.3. LINE'S HIDDEN GUIDELINES


After submitting a few sets of stickers and getting rejected consistently (which hopefully won't happen, of course), you may notice that there are patterns, i.e. numerous HIDDEN GUIDELINES which are most likely available only to reviewing staff (for internal use).

Note: one thing that you have to remember is that reviewers only copy-paste replies. There will never be (or at least, I have never had) any personalized reply. And I have NEVER had any reply to ANY question I have asked (for precision, or future reference): you MUST comply to their demands or your stickers will never be published. There is no room for argument. And how would there be? no one knows the inside rules.

2.3.1. Regarding Sale Regions.

For unexplained reasons, you may be ordered to limit the Sale Region to a consistent list of 25 countries:



You may notice that this list does not include countries of very similar cultures and worldviews (i.e. Monaco, Andorra, Eastern Europe, etc., etc.). LINE reviewers must have a truly vast knowledge of the world to make that assessment. Although one may notice that 3 main zones are kept out: Africa, Middle East, underdevelopped Asia. Which may hint at something else (*religion*, ahem) about the actual location, gender and personal beliefs of LINE review staff, but we won't voice it here for fear of reprisal.

I had my stickers limited to those same 25 countries for 2 different sticker sets (Happy Birthday, Libeko). Birthdays may not be apprehended similarly around the world (and this set is about birthday cakes only), but something else may have triggered the rejection. The second set is about pets. And pets also appear in the birthday set. It may be the conception of dog as a pet that so conflicts with the cultures and worldviews of the 170 remaining countries.


You must have noticed that this region restriction relies heavily on a (most annoying) all-purpose justification ('conflicting worldviews') that is used without ever giving a precise reason. I have asked numerous times for clarification, but have never had any reply to this day (at all, in fact).

In a more local fashion, I once had a set (U&K1) forbidden to sale in Indonesia only.



2.3.2. Regarding the 'scantily clad characters' and 'stickers that contains sexual expressions' restrictions.

In my Happy Birthday series, I had originally designed 2 animated stickers in which characters in light attires would come out of the cake. The 'funny' and interesting part is that one got rejected but not the other. Here they are:



 

The male version got accepted no questions asked... but the female got rejected for both reasons:


Again here we may gather hints regarding the gender and personal beliefs and culture of the reviewer, without being able to do anything about it. Forewarned is forearmed.

On the same topic, even hints of 'sexual expressions' (here the raincoat cliché) for humorous purpose are forbidden. Those two versions of the same animated sticker both got rejected one after the other, leaving no margin of manoeuvre but to abandon the concept.



2.3.3. Regarding the 'stickers that display overly offensive or crass images' restrictions.

The important point in the wording is 'overly'. Which means it is all a question of degree, so as to leave the largest latitude for the reviewer's judgement. By means of example, here are three versions of a sticker where a X character 'marks the spot' (the whole set was made by request and is not sold in LINE market anymore). Only the last version got accepted.



2.3.4. Regarding 'causing confusion'.

Sometimes the reviewer just doesn't get it. An example for this is a sticker in which the X character is being ask where the exist is and he points at a coffin (we all die). Not to the (confused) reviewer's taste.



2.3.5. Precisions.

* The cryptic message: 'Adjust the first frame of each sticker...'


It took me a few times to understand that it refers to the point mentioned in the first part of this tutorial (1.1.2.): the first image MUST be representative of the idea of your sticker.

* A precision regarding unclear copyright infrigement and 'fan fiction': it applies to games and apps (for the Online Gamers Series, previously Global Assault Series).


* If you plan on releasing the same set in different languages, you have to limit the sale regions so that they do not overlap, because the stickers with 'same designs or poses' can't have duplicates in the store, regardless of the language used.


Of course, the aim of all those visible and hidden rules, and of the punitive aspect of the review (there is no room for discussion at all, since you can write to the reviewers but will never get a reply) have but one goal: to encourage self-censorship, to produce harmless stickers. (It's our job to do something interesting within those boundaries.)

When your stickers are approved at last, you're not quite done yet!


3. RELEASE AND SELL YOU STICKERS ON LINE STORE


Once your stickers have been approved, you still need to release your stickers, i.e. to put them on sale in LINE Store. Just go to the approved set in Manage Items, and click Release in the upper-right-hand corner.

A new dislaimer pops up, that warns against copyright violations (again):


Click OK and your stickers will be published and available for purchase shortly (it usually takes a couple of hours). Congratulations!


Now, you don't get to use freely the stickers you created: you still have to buy them. Since you get a monetary share on each sale, it amounts to buying them at a discount rate. But still, LINE is a bit stingly here and could easily let creators use their own stickers for free... Not happening, ever, I suppose.

Once your stickers are out there, it's all up to LINE, because you have no control over their distribution.

There is a statistic tool in My Page (Sales / Transfers: Sales Report) that can show you day-to-day / month-by-month bulk sales for each sticker set, but there is no way of knowing how many of each sticker sets sold, or for how much (prices vary, probably due to local sales or VAT differences – see point 2.2.4. above), or who bought them, or from where. Those would be invaluable info. But then again, complete control, and you can't do anything but be content with the little info that LINE gives you.

Anyway, that's all, folks! Good luck to all!

***

I hope these two pages of information about designing, submitting and selling your own stickers for the LINE app helped. If you have questions or if you notice some error (I am just human), don't be shy!



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