Publishers band together to shut down pirate site

hart199 Publishers band together to shut down pirate site Via Colleen Doran comes word that htmlcomics.com has been shut down by the FBI. The site was a very popular online library of unauthorized comics scans, with hundreds of thousands of issues available at the click of a mouse:

Comic book pirating website www.htmlcomics.com has been shut down and all of its servers confiscated, following an FBI search based on a warrant alleging criminal copyright infringement. The FBI investigation was performed in coordination with the U.S. Department of Justice, a consortium of comic publishers and their legal counsel, a team of Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP attorneys specializing in the areas of intellectual property, publishing and comics, as well as local counsel in Miami.

Prior to the combined efforts of the consortium and the authorities, Htmlcomics was believed to have been the largest, best-known and most easily accessible website of its kind, producing rampant copyright infringement on a daily basis and depriving artists and publishers of hard-earned and much-needed revenue. By April 2010, the website claimed to have an average of 1.6 million visits per day and more than 6,630,021 pages of comic books offered for unrestricted viewing. Ridding the Internet of such a large source of pirated content is a major victory for the comic industry and the publishing industry in general.

Htmlcomics was run by a fellow named Gregory Hart, who claimed he was doing nothing wrong: the comics were not downloadable (although computer savvy readers were quickly able to find a workaround) and he said that by only putting up older comics, major publishers were not upset. An interview at Nerd Society showcases the attitudes of Hart and his readers. In part 1, the interviewer describes using the site and why its okay:

Woah! What happened? For over 10 years I had stopped seriously reading comics with just a pick here or there. I found a great site called: http://www.htmlcomics.com This site offers almost every comic ever made. You can read them for FREE and move on to the next one without dropping a penny. How do they do it you ask–are you fuming that it’s illegal! They are taking food from hard working comic guys! NO, THEY AREN’T. All books are unable to be copied. The books are also not up to date, they are a year behind so the current titles can sell.

In part 2, the actual interview with Hart he explains his justifications:

GH: Both Marvel and DC leave me alone as long as I stay 6 months to a year behind. Image is more complicated due to their book titles changing often. Also, htmlcomics.com is non commercial, we don’t sell the books for download and they are unable to be downloaded–consider it like a lending library.

Perhaps the most startling aspect of the story for some is the claims of 1.6 million visits per day. Do that many people really like comics? If just 10∞ of these pirates could pay what a happier industry it would be. In a topic on Yahoo wondering what happened to the downed website, readers lament their missing stash:

I really hope they weren’t taken down. I don’t see how HTML Comics is stealing from companies by letting me read “Defenders” issues from the 70’s and “Suicide Squad” issues from the late 80’s.

and

It’s still down. I just checked. I need my comics fix….must…..read….comics…..

The main argument FOR htmlcomics from a publishing standpoint is that free sampling works, and many people ended up purchasing print comics only after sampling them for free.

Doran’s post has much more information, with some links to rather bizarre and odd behavior by Hart over the years. According to the PR, Marvel Comics, DC Comics, Dark Horse Comics, Bongo Comics, Archie Comics, Conan Properties Int’l LLC, Mirage Studios Inc., and United Media all banded together, for once, to get the site taken down. Now if they would only band together to find a way to sell digital comics at a price point some consumers found palatable.

Full PR below:


Comic book pirating website www.htmlcomics.com has been shut down and all of its servers confiscated, following an FBI search based on a warrant alleging criminal copyright infringement. The FBI investigation was performed in coordination with the U.S. Department of Justice, a consortium of comic publishers and their legal counsel, a team of Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP attorneys specializing in the areas of intellectual property, publishing and comics, as well as local counsel in Miami.

Prior to the combined efforts of the consortium and the authorities, Htmlcomics was believed to have been the largest, best-known and most easily accessible website of its kind, producing rampant copyright infringement on a daily basis and depriving artists and publishers of hard-earned and much-needed revenue. By April 2010, the website claimed to have an average of 1.6 million visits per day and more than 6,630,021 pages of comic books offered for unrestricted viewing. Ridding the Internet of such a large source of pirated content is a major victory for the comic industry and the publishing industry in general.

Htmlcomics creator Gregory Hart, 47, acquired pirated copies of more than 5,700 series of comics spanning every major comic publisher in the United States, and made them available for public viewing on his site. The comics could be viewed from cover to cover and page by page and the infringing copies were reproduced on Hart’s servers and publicly displayed without authorization. Titles available included Spider-Man, Superman, Batman, The Simpsons, Futurama, Avengers, Incredible Hulk, Wolverine, Dilbert, Peanuts, Catwoman, Flash, Green Lantern, Wonder Woman, Hellboy, Star Wars, 300, Predator, The Mask, Iron Man and Buffy the Vampire Slayer, among thousands of others.

The FBI’s Tampa Field Office headed the investigation leading to the warrant. The consortium of publishers cooperating with law enforcement include Marvel Comics, DC Comics, Dark Horse Comics, Bongo Comics, Archie Comics, Conan Properties Int’l LLC, Mirage Studios Inc., and United Media.

Comments

  1. “The main argument FOR htmlcomics from a publishing standpoint is that free sampling works, and many people ended up purchasing print comics only after sampling them for free.” — But since none of these publishers or copyright holders had given permission for their work to be sampled, that argument is moot.

  2. I find this part fascinating…

    “…rampant copyright infringement on a daily basis and depriving artists and publishers of hard-earned and much-needed revenue. By April 2010, the website claimed to have an average of 1.6 million visits per day…”

    The copyright infringement part I don’t disagree with one bit. It’s the “depriving artists and publishers of hard-earned and much-needed revenue” part that I find a little suspect. If that were actually true, then now that htmlcomics.com has been taken down, comic sales should spike dramatically, right? I mean, now that these readers can’t get it for free, they’ll be flooding BACK into comic shops to pour money BACK into the coffers? Am I right?

  3. GOOD.

    What a lot of people forget is that these sites kill creators like me who , at times, put up their own money to get a book published and then get killed when hundreds or thousands of people just download them and we never see a dime. the difference of even a hundred sales of a book can make a difference of a book breaking even or being a loss.

    You want to see the book, try this: go to your comic shop and open it up…or go to many of the numerous on line comic related sites and check out the 6-8 page previews put up. The idea that people sample the books and go out and buy them is ridiculous. One look at the music industry and you see that isnt true at all.

    There are now a few legitimatel downloadable comic sites…show some respect and pay for your entertainment…Show the creators you love that you respect them and their creations as well and support their work.

    Each week I forward at least 5 sites that illegally feature books I have worked on and the links are sent to company enforcers and law enforcement . It seems it’s now part of my daily routine…and guess what, I’m not the only comic creator doing it. It sucks that it has to be this way.

    JIMMY P

  4. I don’t see how HTML Comics is stealing from companies by letting me read “Defenders” issues from the 70’s and “Suicide Squad” issues from the late 80’s.

    Um, because Marvel and DC have collections of both of those runs? I’ve got no sympathy for sites that pirate comics. Anything that takes even a dollar out of the pockets of creators like Jimmy Palmiotti is just not my cuppa.

    That said, DC’s seeming lack of a digital strategy gets more and more painful by the day. Marvel has made bigger strides, but I think they’d be doing themselves a big service if they got more complete runs up on their Digital Comics Unlimited site and made their downloadable offerings more timely.

  5. William Gatevackes says:

    First off, Colleen Doran rocks. And she pretty much rocks all the time.

    Second, I recommend going to Ms. Doran’s site and clicking the link for Hart’s asking the webite FINDLAW if HTMLComics was legal. The legal experts there tell himn no, he says yes it is, and it goes on for 3 pages liek that.

    Third, an online database of every comic ever published would seem to be invaluable, especially to those who write about comics, and having it be free would rock, it still is taking food out of the mouths of your favorite creators. Creators who typically do not have longterm health care or a corporately funded retirement plan. Something to think about if you critize the comic companies for shutting this site down.

  6. Matt- the problem with your arguement re:creators is that Dark Horse, DC, and other pubs involved also publish a lot of creator owned work, and given Colleen’s post, he was also scanning the work of a lot of self-publishers. And as Colleen pointed out in her googlebooks post she linked to in her article, it also interferes with stuff reverted back t oartists, or stuff they’d rather not have in distribution anymore.

  7. Not everyone has easy access to a comic shop. I grew in a town 40 miles from the nearest comic shop (and McDonalds), and I bought most of my comics for years on the newstand at the local grocery store.

    The only real aspect of what Hart did that isn’t reprehensible is filling in a gap that the major publishers of comics haven’t filled – making comics available. Quite frankly, that is their own god damned fault.

    Creators should be pissed at Hart, but they should be just as pissed at their publishers for not making their work more widely available. It is 2010, lets get on that ball and make some contact.

  8. Nate Horn says:

    @Bill – Yes, exactly.

    If someone wants to read digital copies of comics, their options are essentially to either read them illegally or…. Therein lies the problem – there is no easy way to do it. Sure, you can read some comics on an iPhone or an iPad, but what about a laptop or desktop?

    I don’t think digital distribution will be the savior a lot of people think it is, but to not even get in the game at all and try to force people into buying print? It’s like this weird doom loop where money will keep being lost.

    I’m not on the side of the pirates and I’m not on the side of the comic publishers, I’m just a guy who hates buying print and wish there was another way. I end up throwing away floppies and giving away the graphic novels because I hate this stuff taking up space. Why isn’t there a better digital solution to buy?

  9. From the numbers, this issue seems to indicate that interest in comics really is alive and well. But obviously, not every day can be Free Comic Book Day.

    I hope creators and publishers can take advantage of the potential market. I can see on-line content fitting the bill for people who like to read comics, but don’t care about collecting them in longboxes, and plastic slabs, and so on.

    Publishers of digital versions don’t need to charge the reader for printing and trucking perfect copies to the local stores each week. So, much much cheaper comics and better royalties for the creators??

  10. I think that every comic publisher worth his or her salt NEEDS to have a digital publishing strategy.

    *Flagrant self-promotion:

    Comixology (which features my work) is a great and painless way for readers to enjoy comic books digitally. There are other similar companies out there as well. Every comic publisher needs to make inroads with these companies and consider them as avenues of distribution.

    Crooks are gonna steal, but reasonable people will not have a problem reading the latest comic books for 99 cents per download.

    Apple’s iTunes didn’t eliminate music piracy, but it provided a legitimate avenue to well-meaning consumers who wanted a way to receive music electronically and instantly. Comics don’t need to have a monolithic single-seller like iTunes is to music, but we need SOMEthing.

  11. Rich Johnson says:

    My column this week is about digital comics and I was going to address pirating there – but with this news I cannot contain myself. OK, as for Mr. Hart’s comment below.

    GH: “Both Marvel and DC leave me alone as long as I stay 6 months to a year behind. Image is more complicated due to their book titles changing often. Also, htmlcomics.com is non commercial, we don’t sell the books for download and they are unable to be downloaded–consider it like a lending library.”

    You are nothing like a lending library! Libraries spend their hard earned funds to legitimately purchase, books, magazines and comics. As you state in the full interview that you relied on people donating to the site for content.

    Matt Kish
    “The copyright infringement part I don’t disagree with one bit. It’s the “depriving artists and publishers of hard-earned and much-needed revenue” part that I find a little suspect. If that were actually true, then now that htmlcomics.com has been taken down, comic sales should spike dramatically, right? I mean, now that these readers can’t get it for free, they’ll be flooding BACK into comic shops to pour money BACK into the coffers? Am I right?”

    No you are wrong. You are wrong because some people are just shitheads and just want something for nothing. The idea of “why buy it when I can get it for free” is wrong. I want to drive a Porsche, but I don’t want to pay for it, should I go out and take one simply because I want to drive it?

  12. I can understand both sides of the equation being a publisher myself. I hope that comics publishers see the opportunity to step up and replace htmlcomics with something that a) serves fans, and b) pays creators.

    There is no getting around the fact that comics are going to be less expensive in the future – every indicator in the market dictates this. [Ipad, Kindle etc…driving prices down]

    Now is the time for publishers to do a lot of testing, market research and rethinking of how the business works today, and how it could/should work in the future. The fact that there were over 1.6 million views / day is a wake up call to the industry. There are customers out there who aren’t being served.

    We can’t do things the old way anymore.

  13. Andre – Good points, all. And again, I’m not defending what Hart did or the existence of htmlcomics.com in any way. Copyright infringement is copyright infringement, it’s theft, and it’s against the law.

    The central and singular concern I have is the curious concept that each and every page hit or download of illegally sourced material automatically equates to a lost sale. For example, I think I can recall reading somewhere (and if I am wrong about this, please let me know and accept my apologies for misinformation) that in some of the cases the RIAA brought against Napster users who were illegally providing free music downloads, the monetary damages were assessed by assigning a monetary value to each song and then simply tallying up the total number of times someone downloaded that song from the user. Again, as if every illegal download was a lost sale.

    I’m not at all defending piracy. It’s bullshit, it’s theft, and creatives have a right to legal protection of their work and their ability to profit from it. I’m just not yet convinced that someone who illegally downloads a Lady Gaga song or illegally reads a 3 year old issue of The Avengers would have actually paid money for it. And I worry where this kind of thing is headed.

  14. Rich, that was my point. I knew I was wrong. Which is why I find the language that was used in the initial claim a little hyperbolic. And unfortunately language like that tends to obscure the very real legal issues and damaging potential of piracy.

  15. I wonder if this means publishers will start cracking down on ALL copyright infringement, not just the kind involving scans exchanged for free between fans. My guess is that it will not.

  16. Grady Hendrix says:

    Anyone can take whatever moral message they want from this story (Piracy evil! Publishers evil! Readers evil! Puppies evil!) but there’s a more interesting issue here that’s entirely divorced from internet-ready outrage.

    For the sake of argument, let’s assume the 1.6 million readers number is correct. So the market is clearly split.

    On the one hand: lots of readers who want to read everything ever published for free.

    On the other hand: a small number of readers who want to read what’s currently available but for a higher price.

    Surely there’s a middle ground, where the price can come down, more of the catalogue can be made available and more readers (not all 1.6 million, but more) will come on board.

    Does anyone see this happening? Anywhere? Digital or print-on-demand seem to be good tools to start this out, but I don’t see any of the big publishers making a lot of content available digitally and experimenting with price point to see what works. Am I missing something? Is it even possible?

  17. The Beat says:

    Jimmy P, I agree 100% that this is stealing.

    But what people don’t understand is that this crime is now ingrained into entire generations of media consumers. Ignoring it is not going to make it go away.

    Or to put it another way — is RANDOM ACTS OF VIOLENCE available day and date for digital readers? There is clearly an audience for this product — by ignoring it publishers doom themselves to living in a world where their business model isn’t relevant.

  18. But an audience that’s not willing to pay isn’t going to be an audience for long, because people aren’t going to be able to afford to make the material the audience enjoys. Unless someone figures out a way to make ad driven digital publishing work, then people are going to either have to pay or accept that the creative types are going to have to do other things to make their living.

    There are always people willing to watch/listen/read things they can get for free who aren’t willing to put their money where their eyes/ears are. Put any kind of price tag on it and most are going to disappear.

    As Jimmy points out, there are plenty of places where people can legitimately preview comics for free. And the “no local store” argument doesn’t hold any water, because there are innumerable online stores where they can buy it if they what they see.

    I agree that publishers would do well to figure out a way to make the digital model work, because there are those who prefer to ‘consume’ that way. But until the copyright holders decide to make that material available, there’s no excuse for someone else deciding to do so.

  19. Joe Lawler says:

    “The fact that there were over 1.6 million views / day is a wake up call to the industry. There are customers out there who aren’t being served. ”

    My guess is that the 1.6 million views isn’t unique visitors, but counting each page of the comic read. So a 22 page comic = 22 hits.

    If each visitor reads one comic, that’s about 72,000 visitors per day. But I’m guessing most read multiple per visit.

  20. I know that there is a large untapped market for comics out there. At the local comic shops here in Minneapolis there were EXTREMELY large crowds lined up; even outside the door at one venue, just to get their free comics.

    Now, I don’t know about other metro areas in the US, but the Minneapolis Public Library system has an excellent selection of comics. There are even waiting lists for certain publications.

    The great thing about libraries? They are free to the public (with the exception of fines)! Also, the comic industry makes money off of it.

    I spoke with a sales person for one of the mid-sized publishers at a recent convention who informed me that they have better potential for sales by soliciting the library market than the local comic shops. This is due to the number of libraries across the US dwarfing the amount of local comic shops. Mind you, this whole dynamic likely changes when addressing the big four (Or is it five now? Or six?).

  21. “And the “no local store” argument doesn’t hold any water, because there are innumerable online stores where they can buy it if they what they see.”

    That should, of course, read “…where they can buy it if they like what they see.”

  22. If even 1% of those guys were paying $10 a month for a subscription to do exactly what they’re doing now, that’d be almost 2 million a year back into comics. I suspect the actual number of people looking for a service like this (comics without the occasionally irritating comics shop experience!*) would be much higher.

    *Kidding. Love my comics shop, but I’m lucky to have a lot of good ones at my disposal.

  23. Glenn Simpson says:

    @Paul Storrie – how can they preview something from an online store, if that preview isn’t offered elsewhere? If someone doesn’t live near a store, they are relying on publishers to provide the previews. And that’s just a few pages, which may not be enough to get someone to try a whole series.

    @Jimmy Palmiotti – I would think it important point out what you mentioned when making another point – that thousands of downloads would only translate into hundreds of actual sales. I agree with Matt – piracy isn’t depriving the industry of anywhere near the amount of revenue they would like to think it is.

    In addition to people who are willing to read for free but not if they had to pay, there are also a lot of people who have a sort of “hoarding” mentality when it comes to downloaded material. I know people who have downloaded more TV/movies than they will ever have time to watch for the rest of their lives. It’s about having it, not so much about using it.

  24. Christian says:

    I actually see the comics media going the way of digital music in the realm of cloud storage and monthly payment plans for access (but not storage rights to) a giant library of comics.

    The old Itunes model is already going out of style. Apple is currently building something like a 72 million dollar storage facility in NC to provide this kinda cloud servers (though don’t quote me on that).But the point remains- any digital distributor would need to be ahead of the game in this respect.

    Although, I must point out, something Rich said, “I want to drive a Porsche, but I don’t want to pay for it, should I go out and take one simply because I want to drive it?”

    If you could get away with it you might. Heck, anybody would. It’s human nature. But until Jimmy P. is posting his comments from his own private yacht in the Caymans I don’t think I could ever really side with the pirates on this one.

  25. Christian says:

    OoOH! Glenn posted a really good point regarding the ‘hoarding’ of digital media.

    Very very very true. Kudos.

  26. Nate Horn says:

    @Matt Kish – You’re making a very nuanced intellectual point. I respect you for that. Am I correct in interpreting your point as not every pirated download is a lost sale?

    @Rich Johnson – Sir, I believe your hyperbole muddles the issue. Sure, it’s fun to make outrageous comparisons like “I want to drive a Porsche, but I don’t want to pay for it, should I go out and take one simply because I want to drive it?” but it’s not germane to the conversation. One glaring problem is you’re ignoring the existence of conversion – or using property in a way that deprives the owner of its use. Downloading a scanned comic doesn’t deny the person who bought the comic of using it. Also, there is really no legal way to buy a digital comic, whereas there is an easy way to buy a Porsche. I’m not defending pirating, I’m just trying to address the problem as accurately as possible.

    Marvel’s DCU service is a good start but ducks the actual issue. It seems to me the actual issue is people want to read comics that are in sync with what’s being released. I understand there’s a perception that’s essentially a loaded gun pointed at the head of the Direct Market, but worrying about that seems to invite 1.6 million (or 72,000) people to pirate comics.

  27. Me and everyone who read from the site knew sooner or later it was going to get taken down. I liked it because it saved me money by not forcing me to buy comics that I thought would be cool and ended up being shit. I read many comics on the site, and the ones I really liked, I’ve ended up buying their print version anyway to re-read in physical form (when I had the money and could find it for the right price.) That includes many of Jimmy P.’s lovely Jonah Hex comics.

  28. Nate Horn says:

    @Christian – I would looooove a cloud solution if it’s the sort Google has been talking about lately where no bought content is stored on the device and you can access content you paid for on any compatible device. There are downsides, but right now it seems like a good solution.

  29. Mikael says:

    Forcing you to buy comics? Someone literally drug you to the store and made you buy a comic they knew you wouldn’t eventually like? What’s next? Go to the movies, hate it and ask for your money back? Get an ice cream cone, eat it, get indigestion and getting your money back?

    What a spoiled spoiled society we’ve become.

  30. Christian says:

    Nate – anything less than a cloud storage solution would fail to address the situation IMHO. But if you wanna talk about something that would REALLY put a gun to the head of brick & mortars… it’s that.

    And another thing, yeah I know it’s a tight economy, but buying a comic you think is going to rock only to be sorely disappointed is just part of the game. One might say you’ve never *really* read comics until you’ve been burnt. But you have to take chances.

  31. Mike Donnelly says:

    What if I were to tell you that right now, there are places all accross the country where people are reading comics for free? That right this very instant, there are thousands of people walking out of these places with the actual comics in their hands, that they did not pay for? That they are going to read those comics, and never pay a red cent for them? That, not only are they going to read them, but multiple people can read that same comic many many times, and none of them will ever pay for it?

    Now what if I told you that those places were the libraries in every single community across America?

  32. Scott Rowland says:

    @ Bill who doesn’t live near a comic shop: If someone can find comics download sites on the internet, he should be able to find site so various companies that will sell him hard copy comics. Westfieldcomics.com for one, but there are many, many others.

    More generally, in a world where Super-Villain Team-Up, Dazzler, and the Golem have been reprinted by Marvel, and where DC has reprinted Secrets of Sinister House, and where Archie has 10 years of Betty and Veronica available on DVD, it’s very difficult to think of many comics that do not stand a good chance of eventually being made available again.

    I’m looking forward to someone figuring out the licensing rights to all the old Bob Hope and Jerry Lewis comics DC did, and someone realizing that there really is a market for Sugar and Spike and Sheldon Mayer funny animal strips.

  33. Grant G Brown says:

    Might as well wade in here with a weak, but personal, defense of pirated material.

    Back in college I had no money for non-essential purchases. Everything went for art supplies and bulk food. No movies, no comics, nothing. But I had a friend who was a record collector and he’d burn me hundreds of cd’s of bands he thought I’d like.

    Flash-forward to now (15 yrs later). I’m working. I buy my cd’s, often by bands I was introduced to back then. I’ll also see them play live. And I’m collecting comics again, despite illegal alternatives. Spent $40 yesterday –including Jonah Hex #55 –you’re welcome Jimmy :)

  34. likefunbutnot says:

    I’m not stealing. I’m format shifting. And I suspect I’m not the only downloader who is doing so.

    I make a pain in the ass trip to a comic shop once a week so I can pick up the pamphlets I want to read. I have the receipts to prove it. But I read them in a proper digital format (hint: it’s neither .pdf nor flash) courtesy of the so-called bad guys who provide those same books online.

    Has anyone done any research to find out who the downloaders are? I suspect you’ll find that people who are downloading or viewing collections of comic book titles are people who already spend a substantial amount of money on comics.

    I know there’s a bunch of comics pros reading this, and I assure you that I love what you do and want to make sure you’re all getting paid for your work. I want you to know that if I’m reading your title, I’m paying for it. I don’t want to see an under-appreciated treasure dying on the vine.

    Just like the issues with digital music, you pros need to understand that getting your work in a format where more people can enjoy it is not a bad thing. Locking a digital comic in a crappy format isn’t any better for it than DRM is for your music collection. Painting every downloader with the same brush is not going to fix anything.

    In the arena of digital music, the downloaders eventually won. Today’s online music stores mostly sell files that have no rights management, in a universal format and allow for a la carte purchasing. I strongly suspect that downloaders will ultimately win this battle, too. Content owners really do need to get with the times. If you want to monetize digital comic distribution, do all of your customers a big favor and skip the phase where you punish your fans for doing something they like, and just build a system that works well to begin with. I suggest starting with the stuff the scanners are doing and working from there.

  35. “Now what if I told you that those places were the libraries in every single community across America?

    I’d say, “Yay for public libraries!” and recommend that more people make use of a valuable community resource.

  36. Nate, that’s exactly what I was trying to convey. I’m not in any way condoning illegal viewing or downloading of copyrighted material, but I do think that the way this has been portrayed in the media tends to oversimplify a very complicated legal and financial issue.

  37. Jim Caldwell says:

    That right this very instant, there are thousands of people walking out of these places with the actual comics in their hands, that they did not pay for? That they are going to read those comics, and never pay a red cent for them?

    What if I were to tell you, right now, that libraries don’t exist on sugar and spice and all things nice? What if I were to spend a few paragraphs explaining how Public libraries are funded, and how the books in their collections are acquired by exchanging money for said books?

    Some people (possibly many) may not have directly paid a red cent to be able to read that book, but someone in their household pays taxes – and most libraries are funded primarily through taxes. (Yes, there is also a fund-raising arm in many libraries, which helps enrich collection acquisition)

  38. Gary Dunaier says:

    The value of the site to me was the ability to see old, valuable comics in their entirety, as they were originally published.

    I never thought I’d have the opportunity to see pre-Superman issues of DC comics, from the days when Malcolm Wheeler-Nicholson was still listed as publisher, complete and in their entirety, until I came across that site.

    Through the site I found a house ad in Action Comics #4 listing winners of a color-page contest from #1 – which means we have names of 25 people who, by virtue of that ad, have ironclad proof that they actually bought Action Comics #1 on the newsstand for a dime! This is not the kind of material you’ll find in a Superman Chronicles collection, but it’s fascinating stuff to historians and people like me who are interested in this kind of minutiae. That was a valuable service htmlcomics.com provided.

    Now that the publishers have gotten together to close down the site, I’d love it if they’d unite to create some kind of a system where we could legally see these otherwise unavailable classics.

  39. Dwayne MacKinnon says:

    Let’s keep in mind what another poster mentioned above: Libraries pay for the material they loan out to people. Gregory Hart did not.

    likefunbutnot, I can see what you mean about format shifting. I do think that eventually you’ll be able to download new comics every Wednesday. Still, the fact that we’re not there yet does not, imho, forgive the existence of pirate sites.

    I kinda wish that comics could do what they do with a lot of movies today: come with a one-time download code for a digital copy. That would be cool. Heck, I’d even be willing to pay a small fee (maybe 50 cents) for the digital copy, to cover bandwidth costs.

  40. @Jimmy Palmiotti – I would think it important point out what you mentioned when making another point – that thousands of downloads would only translate into hundreds of actual sales. I agree with Matt – piracy isn’t depriving the industry of anywhere near the amount of revenue they would like to think it is.

    Glenn, did you miss the part where Jimmy said that “the difference of even a hundred sales of a book can make a difference of a book breaking even or being a loss”? At the very least, that deprives a creator of a paying gig.

  41. It’s a good thing this website was taken down. His creator seems like living on another planet…Geez…

    I know some people who download tons of comics. They don’t even bother to read them. They are only happy to have it available on their computer. So they are not really readers at all. People do the same things with movies. They download way more than what they want to watch.
    So the industry is not really losing any potential readers because they take down those kind of websites.

  42. Christian says:

    Although people that read through a comic book without paying for it online bother me less than people who just stand there in the stores reading the entire issue without paying for it.

    At least the downloaders have the decency to be a rude freeloader in the privacy of their own homes.

  43. Idris says:

    It will work if you download the comic, read it first and if you liked it you can buy the real thing. I think we all agree that printed comic is waaaay different from a digital comic. The magic is in the paper. Nothing is compared to holding the real comic in your hands.

  44. Rich Johnson says:

    Nate

    I actually love hyperbole and the point is germane because they are both stealing.

    “One glaring problem is you’re ignoring the existence of conversion – or using property in a way that deprives the owner of its use. Downloading a scanned comic doesn’t deny the person who bought the comic of using it. Also, there is really no legal way to buy a digital comic, whereas there is an easy way to buy a Porsche.”

    So if there is no legal way to buy plutonium does that give you the right to go steal it. (I told you I love hyperbole)

  45. Nate Horn says:

    @Rich

    Your love of hyperbole means you’re standing outside the argument. You’re like the people who argue all Muslims are terrorists or whatever.

  46. “What a lot of people forget is that these sites kill creators like me who , at times, put up their own money to get a book published and then get killed when hundreds or thousands of people just download them and we never see a dime.”

    Jimmy Palmiotti, you’re a talented, hard-working guy to be sure… But what makes you so sure you were getting that money in the first place?

  47. likefunbutnot says:

    Idris,

    It will work if you download the comic, read it first and if you liked it you can buy the real thing. I think we all agree that printed comic is waaaay different from a digital comic. The magic is in the paper. Nothing is compared to holding the real comic in your hands.

    I do not agree. My comic collection is heavy, bulky and occupying more than its fair share of my living space. For my regular trip to a shop, I’m treated to at least one misprinted or damaged book every single week and at times have to deal with scarcity from an under-ordered title. I’ll gladly trade tactile sensation for a high-quality digital reproduction. Bits are a lot cheaper than mass and volume, and the ability to view my comics on a screen of arbitrary size and to quickly locate a particular page of a particular title more than makes up for whatever it is you think you’re losing from a printed page.

  48. Herb Finn says:

    He had the RIGHT idea just badly done.

    An ADVERTISER supported read-online-only-not-download comic version of HULU would work.

  49. I think Kyle Baker said something to the effect that DC and Marvel aren’t in the business of producing comics, but rather are in the business of licensing properties for movies and bedsheets and etc., and in my opinion, it shows.

    I rarely buy retail comics anymore unless they are by Alan Moore or the Hernandez Bros., two “brands” that have earned and kept my trust in ways that the publishers have not.

    I wish I had known about the site before it was taken down. I would LOVE an internet library that housed golden age comics — all of Matt Baker’s work, for example.

    And I’d love to see my tax dollars used to add a digital comics collection to the public library system. Steven King and John Grisham can thrive in this system; why not Gail Simone and Grant Morrison?

    Besides, I have over 15,000 comics sitting in my closet, and — plastic novelty rings notwithstanding — I much prefer buying used trades from the one remaining used book store within 25 miles of my location.

    Since the bookstore owner gets paid, but the artists (and publisher) get none of my $$ in this case, is this as morally wrong as reading them for free online?

    With Newsweek being put on the block this week, we’re seeing further evidence of the print empires collapsing into their rotted, complacent foundations. A new order will rise, and iTunes is as good a model to start from as any.

  50. William George
    05/06/2010 AT 7:47 PM
    “What a lot of people forget is that these sites kill creators like me who , at times, put up their own money to get a book published and then get killed when hundreds or thousands of people just download them and we never see a dime.”

    Jimmy Palmiotti, you’re a talented, hard-working guy to be sure… But what makes you so sure you were getting that money in the first place?

    ——————————————-
    Well, I have to assume a % of these illegal downloads of my books were by people who might have given the book a shot and actually bought it if it was not available ILLEGALLY online.

    The books I have online and available digitally and legally, i get a good % of…so yes, I do know there is money being lost. How I know this is because I have a legitimate partnership with these sites.

  51. GRANT….thanks for the support!

    This really is an interesting comment thread. Some great points made.

    And I agree 100% that dc should get their books up asap…and that marvel should be paying creators their % asap as well.

  52. I would like to say I’m the person who wrote the following:

    “I don’t see how HTML Comics is stealing from companies by letting me read “Defenders” issues from the 70’s and “Suicide Squad” issues from the late 80’s.”

    Too things:

    I was unaware that Defenders had been collected, but I would like to point out that this is only up to issue 91. Suicide Squad is not collected, though there is a solicitation saying July of 2010.

    For the most part, I was looking at stuff like Rom, Micronauts, the Nebulon the Celestial Man “Celestial Mind Control Movement” arc in Defenders, Stormwatch Team Achilles, The Marvel Two-In-One issues where the Thing rescues Skull the Slayer. Am I really taking money for Marvel’s pockets with this? Does anyone, even on this board, know who most of those characters are?

  53. “Am I really taking money for Marvel’s pockets with this? ”

    No, but from back issues dealers, for sure!

  54. @ scarce xavier lancel

    Is this stuff even readily available from back-issue dealers?

  55. Synsidar says:

    Comics publishers can be faulted for inconsistency. They allow artists to use their IP in pornographic artwork — there are Web sites set up for the stuff — presumably because the artwork promotes sales of comics.

    From the unauthorized use of IP standpoint, how is drawing and selling artwork featuring comics characters different from doing unauthorized stories about them?

    SRS

  56. jimmy palmiotti says:
    05/07/2010 at 12:18 am

    Well, I have to assume a % of these illegal downloads of my books were by people who might have given the book a shot and actually bought it if it was not available ILLEGALLY online.

    The books I have online and available digitally and legally, i get a good % of…so yes, I do know there is money being lost. How I know this is because I have a legitimate partnership with these sites.

    I understand your position, but isn’t it just as likely you weren’t going to make those sales anyway? Piracy indicates there’s an interest, yes. But it doesn’t necessarily indicate a missed sale.

    I’d say piracy is more a symptom of the wider problem of sellers failing to convince the potential customer that their product was worth paying for at the asking price.

    To be clear: I’m not trying to justify it. You and anyone else has the right to control your work.

    I just think that instead of costly, fan-alienating lawsuits (or sending in the black helicopters in the case of HTMLcomics), maybe it’d be better for “old media” to put in an actual effort to figure exactly why piracy is such a common occurrence, and how they can best adapt to the new wants of the customers to lessen the odds the customer will turn to piracy.

  57. No “blockquote” tags allowed? D’oh!

  58. Rich Johnson says:

    @Nate

    Your love of hyperbole means you’re standing outside the argument. You’re like the people who argue all Muslims are terrorists or whatever.

    Welcome to the wonderful world of Hyperbole.

  59. comicsatemybrain says:

    @JAY:

    Yes, much of it is easily available. If not in your local LCS, the certainly from a well-stocked online dealer.

    And the next Essential Defenders has been solicited, and that takes you well beyond issue 91.

  60. Librarian here — yes, we definitely pay for our graphic novels. :) However, ordering through our vendor is unreliable at best. I would love to see a digital option for libraries — something beyond what Overdrive is doing with Marvel and Tokyopop.

    Side note: you should read the way cool Iron Man story posted on my library’s comics blog: http://wordballoon.wordpress.com/2010/05/05/5-things-you-don%e2%80%99t-know-about-iron-man/

  61. Torsten Adair says:

    Regarding used bookstores and the lack of royalties:
    legally, the Supreme Court has ruled that an object can be resold without the need to pay royalties. Once it has been sold, and the royalty paid, secondary sales are free of royalties.
    Morally, the creators have been paid. If you wish, you may renummerate the creators with a gratuity.

    As for the Porsche hyperbole… Every comic scanned exists in paper. If I want to read a rare issue, can I break into Geppi’s museum to read it, because I can’t afford to buy the comicbook?

    Or… perhaps there is a videotape of you drunk and naked in college, dancing to the Mahna Mahna muppets (or perhaps something nastier and illegal). I want to watch it, being a Muppets fan. I know others will be fascinated by it as well. Is it okay for me to steal a copy from you and post it online?

  62. For the most part, I was looking at stuff like Rom, Micronauts, the Nebulon the Celestial Man “Celestial Mind Control Movement” arc in Defenders, Stormwatch Team Achilles, The Marvel Two-In-One issues where the Thing rescues Skull the Slayer. Am I really taking money for Marvel’s pockets with this? Does anyone, even on this board, know who most of those characters are?

    I do. I’ve got most of those in my collection, either purchased at the time or through a back-issue dealer, i.e. legally.

    Do I wish Marvel and DC provided a reasonable option for reading those comics in digital form? Sure. But no matter how many justifications you come up with for what you’re doing, it’s a violation of copyright. Here’s my question to you? Would you even pay for that stuff? Or are those just comics you’re interested in only because they’re free?

  63. It is specious to suppose that if someone doesn’t live near a comic shop they would have internet access. Many rural communities do not have access to high-speed. When comics stopped being readily available in supermarkets, newsstands and pharmacies, a large entry point was removed which has not been refilled.

    The point remains one of availability. Comics publishers are doing a poor job of making comics available, particularly in light of the technology available.

    And if what Rich posted on BC is true, the lesson to be reiterated here is never ever, EVER fuck with Harlan Ellison or he will use his mind powers to transmute your lung tissue to tin and have your servers seized.

  64. Okay, wait a minute.
    I read this entire thread and there’s a few things I’m not getting. First off, I DO NOT support illegal downloading of comics. Period. However, in this thread there’s very little about the real victim; the retailer who actually bought the books. They are the ones who really lose out from online scan sites because let’s remember it’s the retailers who order from a *Direct Market* system.

    1) – the initial orders.
    The Majority of creators, artists, et., get paid based on the orders given to Diamond Distribution. This happens months ahead of press time (perhaps a year for some late work-for-hire books), and it’s a locked in base price for post-profit creators (like myself). So, if a six month-old book is purchased it is the retailer who celebrates. They are the ones holding the creator’s books in the back-issue bins. But creators / publishers will get paid from the initial orders no matter what. That’s your Direct Market in action.

    2) – Reprints, royalties and reorders.
    However, the argument can be made when a book goes into reprint, or is reordered, because at that point both the creator and retailer should worry if the material already exists online. That’s when orders could be reflected in the creator’s pay (for those who actually own their properties). And of course publishers. Once again, I am *not* defending scan sites, but there are certain facts that have not been addressed here. The Bookscan-style systems that many retailers use (i.e., Brian Hibbs) only *count* what retailers sell, not what creator’s make.

    Comic books stores are not returning unsold books against the publisher.

    So while I do love my fellow creator, Palmiotti, I have to wonder if saying a “hundred books” can make the difference is a specious statement when those make-it-or-break-it orders come months before the product is even on the shelf to be scanned in the first place.

    3) – The real orders?
    Let’s be frank here; it’s really the *retailers* who are ordering the majority of books. Yes, as creators, Palmiotti and I want readers to order our books from the retailer — which would boost their initial order. Most retailers order based on traffic in their stores. They might only ask for 4 issues of Bomb Queen and then get “pull boxes” for the rest. So that “hundred” book difference might end up with promotion to the readers & retailers — which a lot of creators and publishers don’t do. Lack of promotion is one of the real book killers.

    Now, am I happy that htmlcomics is down? Hell YES! (this is my first time even hearing about htmlcomics). Am I blaming them for my initial orders on Bomb Queen, T-Runt! or Evil & Malice? Not so much. So many factors go into why books hit or miss right out the gate. Scan sites do not help creators in the long run and let’s be clear, it is the *long run* that concerns me most.

    And for the record I’m only speaking about htmlcomics based on the information on this blog and the links. Other scan sites that upload day-and-date every week DO cultivate the download culture and kill comic orders because there’s no six-month wait *window* that reaches into the ordering phase.

    Publishers do need to get on it because the people will not wait.

  65. The good news is that because this site has been shut down, comic sales will now go up in the coming months. Historically, the same thing happened when Z-Cult FM was taken down. Comic book retailers saw a huge increase in the amount of people buying paper comics when they lost the ability to download comic scans via Z-Cult FM.

    Or maybe they didn’t.

  66. David Riches says:

    Hi my name is David and according to some here I would be a A-Hole and Jerk. You see I download some pirated comics. Almost on a regular basis of every other week or so. You can find them on a lot of Peer to Peer Websites if you really know what to look for. I never even knew about this new http://www.htmlcomics.com until everyone started talking about it going down. The thing is I support my local comic shop too. In fact this past week with Free Comic Book Day I supported over half a dozen comic shops.
    You see I still spend on average about $25 to $30 a week on comics. No one is starving because of me not doing my part. However just because I buy the floppies and trades doesn’t mean I want to walk down to the basement all the time to haul around a box or six to find say my complete set of Andy Diggle’s The Losers to compare to how the film changed it or the first four issues of Kick-Ass (this is a comic I still have not read the final part of because it took years to publish the final issues and I haven’t downloaded it either so did he fly in the last issue? I’ll buy the trade when the DVD comes out.) The thing is and it is a thing, is that the web allows that point of convience. Love Chew! Love that you have to hunt for it in the comic shop. Love that Image came out with a special that collected the early issues making it a caost effective entry point. But would I have continued with Chew to the land of plants that taste like chicken if I hadn’t read that issue online while waiting for the local store to back order it in? I might not have.
    Wait there is more here.
    I just finished pre-ordering the Siege collections because while a have a few of the floppies I am not a regular read of those titles and the specials all seemed to be a little pandering. Except I read some of the missing issue online without buying their floppies and said this is neat but only with this in context. So instead of the floppies I ordered the collection from Previews because it will be better collected without having to scatter a dozen floppies amidst titles I don’t like. (That’s right Siege Young Avengers you are not worth the bother for the story you delivered I could have substituted the Initiative or other Avengers in the same roles and gotten the same story). Does that mean I don’t support the good stuff? Heck no I have boxes of trades hoarded in my basement that make me say well it got me from Point A to Point B I am just glad I got it in one tank of gas. It’s just that the stuff on the Web allows you to say I know this is good and then say this is why without having to tell you local comic shop order more of this your patrons will like this only to find out they would rather wait for the trade. My brother buys the trades for Y-The Last Man now off the regular print since the series ended over a year ago because our floppies were not being returned by friends. However recently I told one compatriot if they really want to see the series check it on the nets and then buy it because I know they will like it. I saw them at one of the comic shops on Free Comic Book Day buying one of the trades. I pulled them aside and told them to take a look at Fables and Red Robin and they got the trade for the first Fables. Is this always the case? I doubt it but it is an example of making sure that if the fan has to decide if they are going to spend their dollars it’s going to get spent in the right spot and not on say the ACDC Iron Man 2 album. This is the same person a few years back I sent a link to the pdf sample at Vertigo of Transmetropolitan and they said it was too crazy for them. Samples do work just not always in the way we hope. Will that stop me from visiting my unsigned trades of Transmet when I want to reminisce? Nope! It won’t stop me from down loading the same transmets off the net because I am too lazy to walk to the basement that week. Does it deny money going to the creators. Nope since I already own a set or two they have my money.
    So whats the big deal? Why download if I already have a copy? I think I said it before convenience. Comic readers are industrious but have also grown a little lazy. We see the Previews with the blurbs and we order the books and they get pulled and bagged for us and we get them home and read them an then we bag them and we shelve them and then we store them and as the collection grows we either hoard them or trade them or sell them or give them away to make room. The fact is I might have had a subscription to Dazzler or Alpha Flight or New Mutants but no one wants it staring at them 24/7 so we put them away because we have all heard the horror stories of someone had a box of something and when they went away it was given away so we don’t want to touch that classic issue of Dazzler where she teams up with Spider-woman in the sewers and we tell people don’t touch box. That in spite of the fact you can find the same issue in the 5 for a buck box at some stores or conventions you hold onto it. Or you download the issue off the net so you can see the restaurant looks just like the one at the local Sheraton. We have this mentality forced on us that we have to preserve the original so you read it once or twice then either get the Essentials or you take the easy route and use the internet. But does the using the internet mean we are by essence destroying the industry we love and support? I doubt it but it does mean we either have to change the mind set of the collector or of the industry. Because a lot of us are getting tired of being labeled criminal for something we already have or sharing what we have.

  67. David Riches says:

    BTW shouldn’t comic sales go up right about now because of
    a) we just had Free Comic Book Day.
    b) Summertime films like Iron Man 2.
    c) Summertime and the kids are out of school.
    d) Convention season like the San Diego one coming in July.
    Just saying compare those points to January and you will see an up tick but will you see real growth?

  68. Just to comment on the first thing Matt Kish had said about there should be a spike in sales. One thing that stops that is that many of the people downloading wouldn’t buy the comic in the first place. Even if every site shut down most of the people wouldn’t buy the comic still. It’s the “free” that gets them to download and read it. Make them pay for it and they move on to something else. That in it’s self is the one thing that I think a lot of the industry hasn’t paid attention to.

    For me of the comics I buy, I’ve cut back a lot. The stories are far from what they used to be and I don’t even want to take the time to find a site and get it for free. That’s how much I dislike what comics have turned to. I just do my weekly trip and get the few I buy and let it go at that.

    I’m no fan of many of the “hot writers”. I dislike revamps and even will not go see a revamp movie (Spiderman anyone?). I won’t even buy, rent, or watch a movie at a firends house if it’s a revamp. That’s pretty much what the industry has come to for me. It’s shut me out of wanting to read most of it, but I just dropped it. Maybe that’s what some of where these people downloading are at with comics. They haven’t quite wanted to totally stop reading yet but they don’t feel the comic is worth the cover price anymore.

  69. @ Chad

    Actually I have both Stormwatch:TA Trades, the back issues I could find and Micronauts.

  70. Brandon Montclare says:

    I steal floppies from my local comic shop because it’s inconvenient to pay for them. And I encourage all my friends to steal books too, because it’s a great way to sample new titles without risk. But this is all a good thing, because if we really like what we steal we’ll sometimes also buy it. Or buy other stuff.

    And of course I feel this is an ok thing to do: I make up my own rules by which I justify my life.

  71. Mike Donnelly says:

    Dwayne MacKinnon says:Let’s keep in mind what another poster mentioned above: Libraries pay for the material they loan out to people. Gregory Hart did not.

    Do you really think the site would be up today even if he had? And even so, the people that did “donate” them to his site DID pay for them, or got them from someone who did. So again, just like in a library, there was an initial purchase, and then numerous people who benefited from that purchase without actually paying for it.

    The irony of this situation (and all of the intellectual theft debates, really) is this – I can go to the store and buy a comic, then turn around and sell it on craigslist, or hell sell it right back to the store I bought it from, and everything is okay. But if I upload it to rapidshare and send a copy to a friend, I’m pulling food from the mouths of creators children. People need to realize that there is a secondary market for stuff, and there are people who have enough interest to check out a product if they don’t have to pay for it, but not enough to actually pay for it themselves. The vast majority of the people who download rather than purchase would not start purchasing if the internet went away tomorrow, they’d borrow their friends’ comics, they’d make copies of their friends’ cds, etc. It’s pure fantasy to imagine that there is this huge untapped market of would-be buyers who are being wooed by the seductive lure of free stuff.

  72. “It’s pure fantasy to imagine that there is this huge untapped market of would-be buyers who are being wooed by the seductive lure of free stuff.”

    Meanwhile, last February, iTunes announced its Ten Billionth download. In less than seven years time.

    When comic books were ubiquitous, seen at newsstands and at drug stores and rest stops, the sales were in the hundreds of thousands. After the internet, where communication is extremely easy, those numbers could reach MILLIONS.

    As for the secondary market, you can make copies for your personal use, but if you give away or sell those copies, you are breaking the copyright.

    Libraries do not circulate copies of books, they circulate the actual book. Video stores rent the actual DVD of a movie, not a copy.

    A copy of a comic-book on a DVD is no different than a counterfeit copy of a new movie on DVD. Both are illegal.

  73. >> I can go to the store and buy a comic, then turn around and sell it on craigslist, or hell sell it right back to the store I bought it from, and everything is okay.>>

    That’s right. You paid for that copy, you have the right to sell it. Whatever you do with it, that copy of the story has been paid for.

    >> But if I upload it to rapidshare and send a copy to a friend, I’m pulling food from the mouths of creators children.>>

    What you’re doing, when you do that, is republishing it. You’re not “loaning” it, you’re making new copies available without first having secured the right to do so.

    That’s what copyright involves — the right to copy.

    >> People need to realize that there is a secondary market for stuff,>>

    Republishing, however, is not a part of the secondary market. If you bought a copy, you can sell it, loan it out, bronze it, whatever you want to do; you bought the object, you’re entitled to dispose of it as you wish. You can eat it, wrap fish in it, shred it and mail the bits to the publisher, whatever.

    But what you bought is the object. You didn’t buy publishing rights to the content.

    >> It’s pure fantasy to imagine that there is this huge untapped market of would-be buyers who are being wooed by the seductive lure of free stuff.>>

    It’s probably equally fantasy to imagine that no one’s downloading comics they otherwise would have bought. It ain’t everyone, but it ain’t no one, either. What percentage it is, no one really knows.

    But what’s at issue with copyright infringement isn’t people reading things for free — as you note, it’s legal to borrow books from a library, read a friend’s copy, and so on. And I have books I’ve read over and over again, but only paid for once. None of that’s a problem.

    What’s at issue is publishing material without recompense to the owners of it. Scanning it and putting it online for others to download is broad publication. Broader than print publication, perhaps, because it reaches further. And that’s what people object to.

    If a library buys a JONAH HEX TPB, they loan that copy out to numerous people, but only one at a time, and it gets beat up and falls apart and they have to buy a new one. If an online pirate scans that material a puts it up online, then an infinite number of copies can be made, and no new copies ever need to be bought.

    That’s the issue. Not the reading of copies that were paid for by someone, but the making of lots and lots of new copies that weren’t paid for by anyone.

    Buying a comic book doesn’t give someone the right to make 100,000 copies and hand them out for free. Or to make the copies and sell them. The copyright owner gets to decide who can make copies or not.

    The industry is way behind on the digital publication curve, and needs to catch up fast. But the fact that they’ve been slow and clumsy about it doesn’t change the basic fact that publishing work you don’t have permission to publish is taking away the copyright owner’s control of the material. And since copyright _is_ control, that’s the problem.

    We make our livings off of copyright. That includes the copies you loan to a friend or borrow from a library. But it doesn’t include illegally-scanned copies. The copy you borrow from a friend sent some money up the chain when it was purchased (and there’s only one of it). The pirated copy never did (and there can be as many copies as anyone cares to make).

    That’s the issue.

    kdb

  74. Kurt Busiek said;

    “It’s probably equally fantasy to imagine that no one’s downloading comics they otherwise would have bought. It ain’t everyone, but it ain’t no one, either. What percentage it is, no one really knows.”

    Lets be real here: Comics sales were in the toilet long before the internet was in every home.

    The problem then, like now, is a failure of the publishers to convince interested customers their product is worth paying for. The reasons for this are multitude and, unfortunately, systemic. And since publishers would rather wring their hands and hope everything will return to 1991 instead of adapting to the new market, this topic will continue to be a problem for them.

  75. Army of Dorkness says:

    “What’s at issue is publishing material without recompense to the owners of it. Scanning it and putting it online for others to download is broad publication. Broader than print publication, perhaps, because it reaches further. And that’s what people object to.”

    Which is not what HTMLcomics was doing, correct?

    “That’s the issue. Not the reading of copies that were paid for by someone, but the making of lots and lots of new copies that weren’t paid for by anyone.”

    I think the copying part of downloading is overblown, yet it’s the only thing close to a valid point anti-download people have. There is no practical difference between reading a TPB borrowed from a friend or library and one downloaded onto a computer. The “copying” part is irrelevant. If that’s not good enough for you, what if the person who downloaded it deleted it afterward so that copy no longer exists?

    I believe that the spirit of the “copy” part of copyright pertains to owning a printing press and making actual exact copies of comics and then distributing them without permission of the rights-holder. That’s my specific interpretation, and the template for it applies to other forms of media as well. I personally do not differentiate between reading a comic book online, from a library, in a book store, or in my own home through purchase, trade, or the generosity of others. I doubt I’m the only one with this viewpoint, and it’s not likely to change.

    That said, I had not heard of htmlcomics.com and my comics needs are filled by the aforementioned buying, trading, and borrowing instead of downloading…but that might have more to do with not wanting to read comics on the computer at my desk.

    “Jimmy P, I agree 100% that this is stealing.”

    Sorry, Jimmy, I don’t. I wish more creators (musicians, movie people, etc.) were understanding and realistic about this particular issue. A few are.

    Instead of lawyers, these publishers should have taken that money and hired proofreaders. I’m tired of paying good money for a comic that no one bothers to check for proper spelling and grammar. And I’m not talking rished print jobs to get it on the shelves…the shit doesn’t get fixed for TPBs and other reprints either. There’s no excuse for that. And no, lost revenue from downloads isn’t a valid excuse.

    No one really listens to people on the internet anyway…I’m wasting my time.

  76. GaryMoe says:

    I don’t understand how someone can take more comics/movies/songs than they can read/watch/listen to in their lifetime and not pay a dime.

  77. I buy my digital comics to read on my iPhone from comixology, iVerse and Marvel. It bugs me that there are still huge gaps in what I can and can’t read. It bugs me that Marvel doesn’t have newer books to read digitally. It bugs me that Image has a presence on iVerse and comixology, yet I can’t pick up any Jack Staff or Savage Dragon issues there. It bugs me that I have to pay $4 or $5 US for comics when I used to read them for a fraction of that. It bugs me that I’m paying $2 for a digital reprint. It bugs me that DC has no online presence.

    Yet…
    I love being able to read Jersey Gods for $.99 an issue. I love being able to read the FX series John Byrne worked on for IDW. I love being able to find comics that my LCS doesn’t carry. I love that Image’s Invincible and The Astonishing Wolf-Man are available and almost up to date with their LCS counterparts. I love being able to read comics from the 40s where the copyright has expired (even though it requires more hoops to jump through in order to read them). I love being able to read selected reprints of old Marvel stories. I love being able to read Atomic Robo not only as individual issues but also in a collected edition so it’s a straight read.

    I wish publishers and creators would stop treating digital comics as some weird niche market. I know there’s a lot of technical grief to sort out regarding formats and methods of delivery, but darn it I’m hungry for more. Keep comics cheap at $.99 and I’ll be happy as a clam.

  78. >> Which is not what HTMLcomics was doing, correct? >>

    They were publishing the material online without having secured the rights. They claimed that they were somehow copy-protected, but they weren’t.

    >> There is no practical difference between reading a TPB borrowed from a friend or library and one downloaded onto a computer.>>

    Yes, there is. One of them makes a new copy.

    >> The “copying” part is irrelevant.>>

    No, it’s not. It’s what copyright is all about.

    >> If that’s not good enough for you, what if the person who downloaded it deleted it afterward so that copy no longer exists? >>

    They still made it. If you print up copies of stuff you haven’t secured the rights to and then tear them up when you’re tired of them, that’s still infringement. Making copies is the infringement.

    >> I believe that the spirit of the “copy” part of copyright pertains to owning a printing press and making actual exact copies of comics and then distributing them without permission of the rights-holder.>>

    I think if you study up on copyright a little, you’ll discover that’s not the case.

    kdb

  79. David Riches says:

    Didn’t the Supreme Court Of Canada rule a few years ago that personal copying was akin to photocopying pages out of a book at the local library?

  80. Army of Dorkness says:

    Kurt Busiek says:
    05/07/2010 at 11:25 pm

    “They were publishing the material online without having secured the rights. They claimed that they were somehow copy-protected, but they weren’t.”

    Soooooo, I’ll take that as “correct.”

    “>> There is no practical difference between reading a TPB borrowed from a friend or library and one downloaded onto a computer.>>

    Yes, there is. One of them makes a new copy.”

    I disagree that there’s a difference. In most cases it’s not possible to transfer the file so that a copy isn’t made, therefor I do not subscribe to the belief that this is in violation of copyright law.

    “>> The “copying” part is irrelevant.>>

    No, it’s not. It’s what copyright is all about.”

    In the digital arena, it is irrelevant. I understand that you disagree. I will stick with my viewpoint.

    “>> If that’s not good enough for you, what if the person who downloaded it deleted it afterward so that copy no longer exists? >>

    They still made it. Making copies is the infringement.”

    It can be argued that a copy is made inside my head as I read the story. Do you now want to confiscate my brain servers?

    “>> I believe that the spirit of the “copy” part of copyright pertains to owning a printing press and making actual exact copies of comics and then distributing them without permission of the rights-holder.>>

    I think if you study up on copyright a little, you’ll discover that’s not the case.”

    Not necessary. I don’t really care what the law has become to serve the corporate interest. If someone is making identical copies of your comic book and giving or selling them, then I’m on your side. A digital file IS NOT an identical copy of the original creation and should not be subject to copyright law.

    I’ve heard it all before, and I’m going to say this to all the creators/publishers out there…you won’t win. No matter what the law says it doesn’t change the fact that what you want is money and only your audience has it. A decent number of them will, have, or do download, and a decent number of them have then spent money as a result of what they downloaded. What you’re doing is making your audience dislike you, and that’s not good for your money. I do not envy you or the position you’re in because either way it really sucks for you, and for your sake, I wish the technology hadn’t taken such a turn against you…but you’re not the only people whose livelihood has been threatened by advances in technology. So you can keep burning down the factories with their evil machines if you want, but I don’t think it’s a good idea.

    So, before I am flamed along with the factories, I’d like to point out that I am not your enemy unless you think anyone that doesn’t agree with you is your enemy. I don’t have a download program, and I have no idea where to find comics to download due to either being uninformed about it or through lack of interest. My comics needs are served by every legal method available. I just think that whether I read it for free legally or “illegally” is immaterial, and the only reason I can see for feeling like the digital copy on a computer is somehow different and special is an obsession with control. Which is what copyright law is really about, isn’t it? That can’t be healthy. Especially since it’s also an illusion of control. Once you create something, it’s out there. You’ve already let it go. That means a preoccupation with copyright law is really about an obsession with money and control.

    ” it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”

    Best of luck to both sides of this issue. I’ll be watching from the middle.

  81. Primal says:

    People steal, it has been this way since the dawn of society, and it will be this way for quite some time to come.

    With present day societies level of technological advancement the act of theft has simply taken on another form. Any means of theft deterrence will inevitably be met with a work around to allow the theft to continue.

    Complaining about it accomplishes nothing. Shutting down websites A, B, C, and D simply means people will move on to websites E, F, G, and H.

    You professionals want to be compensated for your work, and that is understandable. Instead of posting here and complaining about it, how bout you shoot an email over to your publisher and express your interest in getting your work put online in a digital format for purchase?

    For the industry to change how comics are available it has to happen from within, and that starts with the creators of the comics. The fans are tired of waiting, so they take matters into their own hands and make digital copies without permission.

    Now as I said above, people will always find a way to steal, but part of the “theft” here is due to the industry largely ignoring the online market.

    I am not condoning the act of pirating copyrighted materials. I simply think there are more constructive ways to go about it than going on a holy crusade to shut down piracy sites, as Jimmy P essentially said he is, or complaining about it ad nauseam, as others seem intent on doing.

  82. Copyright law, which I had to immerse m’self in for awhile, is about the right of intellectual property, Army of Dorkness. That means the characters, the stories, the ideas, not, whether those characters, stories & ideas were printed onto physical paper. The law does not adjust to your decision to subscribe to that belief, or choosing to stick to your viewpoint. Your tenacity does not make you correct. ;)

    Those ideas, those properties are how most of the professionals reading this earn their bread. Yeah, we need to shift formats ASAP. But you wouldn’t expect get a book (or e-book song, or movie for free – why would a comic book be any different? (Though if you do expect to bag all that stuff free, yer a pirate, yar. Skip the rest of this.)

    If you take a Hulk comic, scan it, & send it to someone, there’s two separate things that have happened. You have taken format A, the printed comic, & changed it into format B, which is an electronic version/file. Then you share it w/ someone else. This means that you republished the work & distributed it. It’s not the physical pages that are protected by copyright; it’s the Hulk himself, whatever stories that Hulk is living in that day, associated characters. You didn’t create those characters, therefore you don’t have the legal right to reproduce them. When you buy a physical comic book or you buy its e-file, you have the right to consumer/read the book, not to change its format or distribute or resell it. You only own that original book or file.

    Now.

    The massive effect that the Internet has had on our lives means that things sometimes get a little flexible. A publisher will put out a 6-page preview & want people to pass that along. Or, you buy a piece of Iron Man convention art; let’s say the Hulk this time. All you own is that physical art. You do not purchase the rights to reproduce the art in any way. But it’s common practice to hop home w/ your art & go to comicartfans.com (or other gallery site) & share your score.

    Publishers are gonna have to get pre-existing material into e-formats stat. Definitely a conversation I plan on having soon. Adapting quickly is the way to go. I was less than thrilled to hear European pals tell me they loved Dark Ivory – they’d just read it on PirateBay.

    Interestingly, artist Nina Paley has given up on copyright altogether & made her latest work copyright-free. I don’t know where the future lies, but she’s apparently had a very successful year.

  83. Torsten Adair says:

    This is via cellphone, so can’t post the link….

    Everyone who is interested in copyright should read Cory Doctorow’s Content.

    It is a collection of his essays regarding copyright in a digital age.

    It is available, for free, online in a variety of formats, using a Creative Commons license. Or you can buy the book, or check it out from the public library..

  84. Glenn Simpson says:

    For purposes of full disclosure, I download comics via torrent all the time. However, I only download comics that I have already ordered, and am just waiting to arrive (I get my comics monthly). And I don’t keep the scans.

    Just to point out another category of downloads that don’t translate into (additional) sales.

    Also, I’m not going to be happy with the “cloud” version if that’s where things are going, where I don’t have full control over something I’ve paid for. If I have to go digital-only on comics, I want to burn them to DVD or something. I don’t trust anybody else not to deprive me of something I paid for.

  85. >> A digital file IS NOT an identical copy of the original creation and should not be subject to copyright law.>>

    Lots of things aren’t identical copies of the original creation. A hardcover collection. A poster of a painting. A microfiche file. They’re all covered by copyright.

    >> an obsession with control. Which is what copyright law is really about, isn’t it? That can’t be healthy.>>

    I’m not sure why not. Most people don’t think it’s unhealthy to own things, and that’s about control, too.

    Copyright is control. The ability to control the use of one’s creative work is granted to creators for a limited period in order to encourage them to create, because it enriches society as a whole to have them do so. That’s what copyright is for, to encourage people to make cool stories and art and statues and things, because having lots of them out there is good for society. So we arrange a system by which people can own what they create for a period, and thus make a living creating it, before it goes into the public domain and everyone gets to play with it.

    The idea that it’s unhealthy is bizarre. You can’t start making Coca-Cola, complete with the exact formula and the distinctive packaging. You can’t mass-manufacture Monopoly games, or Hubba Bubba bubble gum, but people who write and draw stories having the same kind of protection is unhealthy. Go figure.

    >> People steal, it has been this way since the dawn of society, and it will be this way for quite some time to come.>>

    People mug. People kill. People defraud.

    There will always be rats in the grain (unless you’re in Alberta), but farmers do their best to minimize it, because otherwise the rats will multiply until there’s no grain left to sell. The idea that prevention cannot be perfect doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be bothered with.

    >> Any means of theft deterrence will inevitably be met with a work around to allow the theft to continue.>>

    By this logic, no law should be enforced, because some people will figure out ways around them.

    >> Complaining about it accomplishes nothing.>>

    Hopefully, discussing it online educates people who are willing to entertain the idea that “you can’t stop me” is not really a good justification.

    >> Instead of posting here and complaining about it, how bout you shoot an email over to your publisher and express your interest in getting your work put online in a digital format for purchase? >>

    Already done, multiple times, and it’ll be discussed more in the future. Discussing the issue with publishers and discussing things online are not mutually incompatible activities.

    >> I am not condoning the act of pirating copyrighted materials. I simply think there are more constructive ways to go about it than going on a holy crusade to shut down piracy sites, as Jimmy P essentially said he is, or complaining about it ad nauseam, as others seem intent on doing.>>

    I think that working toward constructive solutions is a good idea. I think shutting down piracy sites is also a good idea; those two aren’t mutually incompatible either.

    I wouldn’t call joining in discussion of a news event “complaining ad nauseum,” but if it’s making you ill to see the subject discussed, there’s an easy solution.

  86. likefunbutnot says:

    In the end, the fault still lies squarely with the publishers and content owners for not making a serious undertaking in the realm of digital distribution. Those of you who want to get paid for what I read on a computer will have a much easier time building a proper system for electronic distribution than you will pursuing all the avenues in which it’s possible to download a comic book for free. You people need to get it through your heads that the best possible answer is to make a system that is easy and cheap enough to make the opportunity cost of downloading a comic illegally.

    Personally, I believe that buying paper copies (that I DO NOT READ) of the things I download and read on my computers satisfies the ethical requirements placed on me as a consumer of comics. I don’t care about the legality. The law is incorrect and needs to be modified.

  87. I am not condoning the act of pirating copyrighted materials. I simply think there are more constructive ways to go about it than going on a holy crusade to shut down piracy sites, as Jimmy P essentially said he is, or complaining about it ad nauseam, as others seem intent on doing.
    ___________________________________________________

    PRIMAL: holy crusade?

    can you imagine how I felt at c2e2 when i had a guy tell me he downloaded Back to Brooklyn from image comics off a site and really enjoyed it? I asked him if he picked up the trade…and i quote ” I only buy marvel comics…”

    or

    When I get notices the day a book of mine comes out that says 4 sites are offering the book for a free download when i have another site selling it for $1.99…I have every right to be upset..as does the site selling it.

    Not sure how I can explain it any easier then to say that even if 1/10 of those downloading the book paid, I might actually have made some headway to maybe breaking even . I am not talking about marvel/dc/dh/idw…I am talking about books I have through image comics that I pay everyone out of my own pocket to put together.

    As far as a solution…well, the companies I do work for are working on solutions every day for this…especially how to share with the creators and things are changing. I am not a negative person as most people here know…But I am protective of my work.

    I do believe there will be some kind of resolve eventually to all this.

    Am i afraid of people hating me because I feel this way? Hell no.

    Jimmy p

  88. likefunbutnot says:

    Correction:
    You people need to get it through your heads that the best possible answer is to make a system that is easy and cheap enough to make the opportunity cost of downloading a comic illegally higher than using a legal method.

  89. Synsidar says:

    likefun, what you’re doing is rather similar to going to a red light district and hiring a prostitute. You know it’s illegal, she knows it’s illegal, but as long as no one’s being hurt — The odds are against you being arrested, but if you are arrested, you don’t have any defense and the crime would damage your record. Arguing that the law should be changed is useless once you’re in court.

    The odds are also against being arrested for an illegal download, but if you are, you have no defense and the financial penalty could ruin you.

    SRS

  90. I am now off to another subject that really needs attention: the oil spill in the gulf.

  91. likefunbutnot says:

    Synsidar: The odds are also against being arrested for an illegal download, but if you are, you have no defense and the financial penalty could ruin you.

    That’s certainly true, but I believe that in this case the law will eventually catch up to modern usage and that content providers will either build a system that’s worthwhile and/or go broke pursuing the wrong recourse (i.e. the RIAA model).

  92. Army of Dorkness says:

    Hopefully, discussing it online educates people who are willing to entertain the idea that “you’re all a bunch of criminals” is not really a good justification.

  93. Army of Dorkness says:

    “can you imagine how I felt at c2e2 when i had a guy tell me he downloaded Back to Brooklyn from image comics off a site and really enjoyed it? I asked him if he picked up the trade…and i quote ” I only buy marvel comics…” ”

    That really sucks, dude. But everyone that downloads something isn’t “That Guy.”

    I read lots of things I don’t pay for. I think it’s stupid to care whether I do it using downloads or the library or borrowing from a friend. This is just the Chicken Little bullshit from Napster all over again. Pick your nits all you want, but the result is still the same–people read for free and you get no money. Quibbling doesn’t change a thing.

    Also, Downloading should have never even been mentioned because there was no downloading happening at this site.

    And maybe it’s because you think it’s too crazy of a concept to even respond to, but I notice that everybody has so far ignored this point: “It can be argued that a copy is made inside my head as I read the story. Do you now want to confiscate my brain servers? ” There is hardly any difference between that and when the computer reads the original file and makes a copy to its own electronic brain. I can see corporate interest having copyright law amended to include this in the future because there seems to be no limit to the things people will go to in order to protect their money.

    Plus, I think if I support you on the Orphan Works bill, then I should get some leeway on downloading. How does that sound? Yeah, didn’t think so.

    Ever think that the reason so many people are for downloads without compensation is because so many of you are adamantly against it without exception? Yeah, didn’t think so.

    See you at the fights. :)

  94. >> And maybe it’s because you think it’s too crazy of a concept to even respond to, but I notice that everybody has so far ignored this point: “It can be argued that a copy is made inside my head as I read the story. Do you now want to confiscate my brain servers?”>>

    I think you pegged the reason for the lack of response there, yes.

    kdb

  95. I dunno. Maybe I would like to see his brain servers confiscated.

  96. michael says:

    thank goodness this site was shut down. I didn’t know about it, but obviously a lot of people were stealing their comics. I;m sure there are more that need to be shut down as well.

    Good Job FBI!! :)

  97. Al™ says:

    We’ve heard from comic readers, creators, and downloaders on this issue. But nothing at all from the publishers. I wonder what the barriers are to selling digital comics? What’s the holdup?
    DRM?
    Distribution channels?
    Wondering how to handle public relations with the retailers?

  98. Kate Fitzsimons says:

    I didn’t use this site, but I do understand the temptation for fans who *do* normally pay for things, but can’t find what they want in a digital edition.

    Not justifying swiping a digital copy and not buying the real thing, but I do think this is a sign that there are a lot of fans out there that would like easily useable digital copies of their favorite comics.

    In my own case, I’m particularly partial to DC. I’ve bought a *ton* of legal digital comics from Marvel, but that’s nothing compared to what I’d shell out to DC if they made more of their archives available for purchase in digital format. And no, motion comics don’t count. They’re a different thing.

  99. Army of Dorkness says:

    “I think you pegged the reason for the lack of response there, yes.”

    Or maybe because copyright law can’t touch a person’s brain (yet). It’s not a crazy idea, and I’d expect the entertainment industry to reach that far if they could. Mr. Busiek, you’re obviously just talking about copyright law as written rather than trying to think outside the box on this one. It’s to be expected, though, because it’s the only thing making sure you get paid for your work so why bother looking at it in any other way. I think it was a good point, and I think you would have been better served by saying the point did not pertain to copyright law as written so you didn’t feel the need to comment rather than agreeing with the “crazy” angle. I didn’t think you’d take the bait. You seem too classy for that.

    Since one huge benefit of digital is creating copies as a back-up to an original legally-acquired product which is subject to theft, damage, or loss also results in the need to make copies of those copies for various reasons (multiple devices, multiple archival methods, etc), I’m on the side of making copies. I’m also on the side of paying for things to support their creators. I’m also on the side of enjoying free entertainment. I’m also on the side of sharing it with friends. I have actually researched copyright law before this, but none of my comments used that information because then it’s no fun playing Devil’s Advocate. For what it’s worth, Mr. Busiek, your answers were better than pretty much any others I’ve seen (until you jumped at the chance to side with the “crazy” angle) because you tended to stick with the established law and didn’t just scream things like “it’s stealing” and “my kids are gonna starve because of you” and so on. I don’t really agree with copyright law 100%, but I can’t think of any other way to put a cap on downloading. The extreme ends of this discussion are the real problems, not copyright law or the illegal downloading itself. By that, I mean the ones that just say “you’re a criminal” and the ones that download everything and pay for nothing and think it’s perfectly fine to do so. The louder one extreme gets the louder the opposite extreme has to get and so on. Unfortunately, there are a lot of good justifications for downloading, and while none of them are strictly legal, the only reason they’re not is the “copy” requirement of digital. Therefor, a lot of people think that they’re following the spirit of the law (because there are lots of methods to access copyrighted material without paying for it and aren’t making “true copies”) while violating the letter of the law (because of that pesky digital “copy” aspect). I think, if people could actually have a discussion about this without fear of repercussions or belittlement, both sides would learn a lot. But that ain’t never gonna happen.

    “Eva Hopkins says:
    05/09/2010 at 6:44 am
    I dunno. Maybe I would like to see his brain servers confiscated.”

    Fuck that, Lady! I sacrificed a large chunk of my long-term memory for those servers (though it should probably be a hard drive, actually)!!

    On the topic of htmlcomics.com again, if it was as good as the available information seems to indicate, I hope they don’t destroy those scans. That would seem like such a waste.

    On a final note, keep in mind that the rights of the consumer are also often infringed upon by corporations and business owners without a second thought because they have the money to not fear legal proceedings. That doesn’t entitle the consumer to then “even the score” by doing their own infringing, but the bad behavior of big business has definitely led to that being a major motiviation and justification for what is referred to as “piracy”. So, from that point of view, big business is screwing over creators and entertainers TWICE by essentially encouraging “piracy” plus how they normally screw them over (contracts, fine print, etc.)

    Is it any wonder so many people get so pissed off when this topic is discussed?

  100. “Is it any wonder so many people get so pissed off when this topic is discussed?”

    It’s probably because people don’t like being reminded that taking things without paying for them is wrong–legally and morally–because they like doing it.

  101. Army of Dorkness says:

    “It’s probably because people don’t like being reminded that taking things without paying for them is wrong–legally and morally–because they like doing it.”

    You see what I’m talking about? You just can’t talk to some people when they think they’re so far above it all.

  102. >> Or maybe because copyright law can’t touch a person’s brain (yet). It’s not a crazy idea, and I’d expect the entertainment industry to reach that far if they could.>>

    Really?

    Putting the story into your brain — via reading, viewing, listening, whatever — is the point of the exercise.

    It’s a crazy idea. Aside from the fact that your memory is not a perfect copy, nor can it be reproduced with great fidelity, experiencing a story is what publication is for.

    If you could perfectly reproduce the contents of your brain, then copyright issues might well come into play. But reading the story itself is what the story is for. Calling it an infringement is, yes, a crazy idea.

    You brought up the idea that people would think it crazy yourself, don’t tut-tut over it when they actually do.

    kdb

  103. Army of Dorkness says:

    “Putting the story into your brain — via reading, viewing, listening, whatever — is the point of the exercise.”

    And when you do that, the story isn’t removed from the page to ensure that it doesn’t exist inside your head AND on the page. The story now exists on the page AND inside your head…therefore a copy is made.

    “your memory is not a perfect copy”

    and when I said that a digital file is not a perfect copy either, I was harangued. And you’re not accounting for photographic memory with perfect recall.

    “nor can it be reproduced with great fidelity”

    but making a copy from my memory isn’t the issue. According to a strict reading of the law, the copy in my head would be a violation of copyright law (if it could reach that far) because as you said (and I shall paraphrase), a copy was made and that’s the problem. Whether another copy can be made from that copy is irrelevant.

    “experiencing a story is what publication is for.”

    I thought it was to make money from people buying copies of a story. That seems to be the only thing anti-downloaders care about.

    “Calling it an infringement is, yes, a crazy idea.”

    once upon a time it was crazy to think that the Earth was not the center of the universe. And don’t bother with the typical “I can’t believe you’re comparing yourself/your ideas to (insert special person/idea), blah blah blah” I know I’m not special, but that doesn’t invalidate the point that lots of ideas and people are judged harshly in the present only to be vindicated later… and much too late as is often the case.

    “You brought up the idea that people would think it crazy yourself, don’t tut-tut over it when they actually do.”

    I hypothesized a reason for why a comment was ignored…nobody forced you to agree, and I fail to see how my offering a hypothesis can be blamed for your support of it.

    I stand by my view that it is not a crazy idea because I believe that if the IP Rights groups could extend copyright law to a person’s brain, they would. I’d be charged for everything I’ve read, watched, or listened to for free whether I did so via friend, library, or digital download.

    Copyright law is the only leg you have to stand on. It’s the only thing making sure you get paid for your work, and for that reason alone I understand that it’s a necessary evil at this time. However, I have a problem with people going to jail for violating that law especially when money isn’t involved. Htmlcomics guy should have all of his ad revenue and scans confiscated and he should be set free. Sentence him to community service by having him sit in a Hero Initiative Dunk Tank at a convention or something instead. Severely criminalizing your audience is counterintuitive, and while this guy may not exactly be the audience, he certainly did a better job of serving the needs of the audience than the publishers have…which, unfortunately for him, is why he’s now in jail.

    This debate will never end because neither side is 100% correct no matter how much they profess that to be the case, but conceding that point is not an option because they know that the other side won’t give that same courtesy. And creators should think before casting stones and ask themselves if the reference photos they pull up on Google Images aren’t copyrighted by someone else or the information they look up for historical accuracy or mythological influence also aren’t copyrighted by someone because didn’t you guys have to go out to libraries or buy those books not too long ago or take those photos or have actual personal contact with the world before putting pen to paper (to use an outdated concept)? *cue the “but that’s not the same” chorus*

    It ain’t easy being a comics creator, folks. Try not to download so many comics if you can help it. Libraries are great. Use them for free while you can. Charging for brain copies is only an Outer Limits episode away. :)

  104. The crime would then be accessing the talent’s brain that has the physical ability to create comics, their collective memories, the portion of the brain that gives them their unique voice, and allowing people to copy it into their brains. Copying the content that a talent has already produced in their brain is so 2010. :)

  105. When companies come off 3+ Dollars a book they will not have NEARLY the pirate problem.

  106. Thanks for offering up this article to readers everywhere. It’s good information with a lot of hutzpah. You pack a great punch with your views.

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