Robot 6

LiveJournal shuts down Scans Daily community [Update]

LiveJournal

LiveJournal

Scans Daily, the occasionally raucous but frequently entertaining online community, has been shut down by host LiveJournal for posting copyrighted material without the permission of the copyright holder — a violation of the terms of use.

That was the purpose of the community, really: A person posted excerpts of comics — some well known, some obscure, some just downright bizarre — and other members commented on them. While there’s little arguing that the site and its members violated copyright laws, moderators did impose limits on what percentage of a complete work could be posted.

While some publishers and creators objected to their works being featured on Scans Daily, others viewed the community as a rite of passage, or a valuable marketing tool. (Reacting this morning on Twitter to news of the shutdown, cartoonist Faith Erin Hicks wrote, “That sucks! I was thrilled when someone posted pages from Zombies Calling to scans_daily. Grassroots internet = sales. C’mon!”)

Although a Scans Daily moderator posted last night that “we don’t want this to turn into a witch hunt,” speculation already has begun as to who filed the complaint with LiveJournal.

Johanna Draper Carlson notes that, “It’s a shame that IP owners fear the free sample so much, because in some cases, at least, it does work to convert customers.”

That, I hope, will be the discussion that develops out of this shutdown. Certainly, it should be up to the copyright holder, and not someone anonymously posting on a website, to determine when, where and if free samples should be doled out.

But maybe more publishers and creators will pause to consider whether a fan wanting to post a few pages — “few” being the operative word — from one of their comics couldn’t, in the long run, be a good thing. Heck, there might even be room for some publishers to work with a popular community like Scans Daily.

Update: X-Factor writer Peter David, whom some online have accused of having the plug pulled on Scans Daily, responds:

Conscientious people have reported to me when they see flagrant copyright violations of my work (typically entire Star Trek novels being posted online). So I did the same thing, informing Marvel of the scans.

Did Marvel then shut them down? No. Because before Marvel legal had an opportunity to do anything, the scans had already been removed for being a violation of terms of service of Photobucket, the site that enabled the posters to put up pictures on line. Perhaps the CBR links put the site on PB’s radar as well as mine.

There’s more commentary on David’s blog.

Update 2: On her Comic Book Resources forum, writer Gail Simone comments on the suspension of Scans Daily, and proposes a compromise:

I sympathize with any creators who felt their work was spoiled. I JUST this week had the ending of my latest issue of Wonder Woman spoiled. But I don’t believe there was any malice. Quite the opposite, I believe that the poster intended only positive things and meant only to spread the word. I find that to be the motive there again and again. “Hey, I liked this book…take a look at this cool stuff in it!”

Do we really want to try to stop that instinct?

I propose a potential solution. I think, if S-D rebuilds, and I hope they do, I suggest that they make it part of the rules that if a creator or publisher objects to a particular post as being too spoiler-y, that the poster be given the choice to either modify or delete the offending posts. I would be very surprised if more than a tiny handful of creators took advantage of such a resource, but it would certainly show goodwill and I’m sure many skeptical creators would appreciate it. They might be brought more into the process. It’s not Draconian, it’s merely good faith cooperation. A creator might ask for a page to be removed. Surely that’s better than having the site nuked over a single post?

I have spoken with some S-D mods and the thing that I felt is undeniable is that they DO respect the creators and sincerely believe that what they are doing isn’t hurtful. That they self-imposed their own ethical guidelines and rigorously enforce them speaks volumes.

These people are not the enemy. They’re the good guys, and the alternative is SO much worse. You think what S-D is bad?

Watch and see what pops up in its place.

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Comments

20 Comments

I definitely wouldn’t be buying comics if it weren’t for scans_daily. I really hope it comes back–it’s such a great community, and it won’t be the same if recreated anywhere else.

I always liked seeing which bits of TRINITY popped up on Scans Daily, and the comments that ensued. There was a lot of enthusiasm and optimism there.

And I never thought they exceeded the spirit, at least, of fair use, at least not in what I saw — they weren’t putting up whole stories, just snippets, for discussion and comment. Perhaps it wasn’t the most scholarly discussion, but so what?

Scans_Daily was an excellent source for scans, not full issues, of comics. I know PAD isn’t the cause of it getting shut down, but, seeing as he’s at the epicenter of this mess, I’d like to comment on his current X-Factor.

I had actually given up reading his book sometime post-Messiah Complex. The art was atrocious and the story was spinning wheels with half the cast forced out of the book due to editorial (Rahne and Layla were both gone, for example). It was a shell of its former self in my eyes.

I heard about PAD’s pleas for no spoilers on his last couple issues and didn’t think much of it. When I found out what happened at the end of the most recent issue, all thanks to scans found on Scans_Daily, I went out and picked the book up again and will be back again next month.

Obviously, not everyone buys the comics they look at scans of online. Some may be turned off by certain events. Some just don’t buy any comics. I buy 20+ books a month. X-Factor was off that pull list until scans and spoilers showed up online.

However, and, again, PAD had nothing to do with shutting down S_D, so not blaming him, the shutting down of S_D does nothign to combat piracy nor will it stop scans from showing up on various other sites around the internet. All it did was destroy a large community of people that discussed comics and shared scans with people in hopes they’d buy the actual issues.

This is rubbish! Scans daily introduced be to all my favourite comics, none of which I ordinarily would have looked at twice. The big names won’t be affected, but the smaller less recognised titles will find this a set back in attracting new readers.

@Aileen
What smaller, less recognised titles?! Scans_daily most important focus was stuff from DC and Marvel, then Dark Horse and Image, then Casstoons and any random webcomic that made a joke about DC and Marvel (hello Shortpacked!), and then, in a distant last place, small print and manga. There are other, more effective places to market such books and there are other, more productive places to discuss such works.

I feel removing Scans_daily is a BIG MISTAKE! I visited that website everyday just to tune in for the comics and see what’s up, and what I should be looking for when I go to the comic book store. It’s because of Scans_daily that I have an obbession with comic books in the first place! Scans_daily is such a great website, and I feel it benefits all comics for all comic book companys. If it weren’t for that website I wouldn’t have become such a big fan of Marvel’s X-men and She-Hulk or DC’s Titans. Although I will continue to read comics and buy them, I feel that the lack of Scans_daily will definitely hinder me from picking up extra titles that I don’t normally read. I truly hope that at some point in the near future they decide to bring Scans-daily back. I just don’t know what I’ll do without that website.

There’s always noscans_Daily, set up by the mods this afternoon.

The plan is that it’ll be like scans_daily, but without the scans – a community for people to share discussion of comics and pimp their favourite stories to each other.

Noscans_daily

I’m endorsing NoScans Daily (as though that carried any weight, hurr). A couple of the mods have already signed on there, and several other members from SD. If Foxhack and Bluefall show up, it’ll feel like home again. :)

If Foxhack and Bluefail show up again, it will be the same endless self-important wankery from a bunch of wannabe-fan-fiction writers congratulating one another about how clever they are.
Noscans_daily will probably have no chance of producing new readers (as opposed to scans_daily very, very small chance), so it probably doesn’t matter whether or not it becomes just another site of real live Comic Book Guys. Nonetheless, I’m hoping the mods have learned their lesson, and will moderate the shit out of Noscans.

As another one of the s_d moderators (besides stubbleupdate), I just wanted to thank those of you who’ve expressed words of support. We’ve moved on to noscans_daily and another off-server clone.

Just by the general atmosphere at LiveJournal over the last couple of years, this can’t be the least bit of a surprise; I don’t see why plans weren’t made to move s_d ages ago, why noscans is still using LJ, or why indeed everyone hasn’t given up on LJ and bailed on the place ages ago.
It was just a matter of time, but they just sat there on LJ, oblivious, waiting for the hammer to come down.

@Brian
I disagree. I was a frequent poster at S_D, and have several hundred dollars worth of trade paperbacks that I would NOT have bought without the community. I bought stuff such as (in no particular order) Blue Beetle, JSA, Ultimate Spider-Man, Marvel Adventures, Welcome to Tranquility, and Astro City because members of S_D thought those books were good and posted scans and commentary as to why. There were plenty of other people on the comm who bought books for those reasons as well. So S_D had a rather large chance of getting new buyers.

it will be the same endless self-important wankery from a bunch of wannabe-fan-fiction writers congratulating one another about how clever they are.

Oh, COME now. Bluefall is one of the most literate and articulate people on LJ, and always presented her opinions in a well-thought-out matter. Even when I disagreed with her opinions, which was more than a few times, I was always interested in hearing what she had to say.

As for Foxhack, it’s just not S_D without “LAAAAAAAAAANNNNNNNDD!” :)

On scans_daily there were people who liked to piss on everything, but in contrast there were also people who would gush over the very same things. It was a pretty diverse set of opinions in many cases, and you could usually find someone who agrees with you.

scans_daily was great for minority opinions, especially when it came to things women liked. You always hear about women in refrigerators in superhero comics, but you rarely ever hear about the things that superhero comics did right when it came to women. And not just having strong female characters or sensibly-dressed women with small boobs – but the less obvious stuff. Relationships. Not just romantic relationships, but friendship, platonic, father-son, and families. As a woman, I love that stuff, and so did much of scans_daily (it was a slash community to start, after all).

Like many, I bought stuff due to scans_daily. People showcased stuff they liked and I became interested, especially a lot of older stuff that’s only in reprints (or not reprinted). Companies don’t really showcase their older stuff – you certainly won’t hear Marvel say boo about their older Black Panther stuff, not with Hudlin and his version out there. And DC has many titles that they have no interest in reprinting – and I even asked about a few titles (Chase, 90’s Green Arrow) at NYCC, and the editor told me I should just go buy the back issues on the show floor. In a way, scans_daily was good at creating an archive of older stuff, a way for people to catch up on the past so you could better enjoy the present issues.

As for the new stuff posted on scans_daily? Sometimes it seemed like people posted just to get a lot of comments, without really adding anything to the scans they posted. And that’s a shame, and that is one of the things that really screwed scans_daily. But there certainly were people who bought new issues based on seeing an excerpt on scans_daily. There were also people who used it to keep up with recent titles without having to buy them, so maybe the two canceled each other out, but more likely those people weren’t going to buy the title either way (it’s the same principle that people failed to see with Napster – just because I downloaded Nena’s 99 Luftballoons for free doesn’t mean I would have paid for it if I had to – I would just go without the song instead).

Ultimately, scans_daily let some creators interact with fans, it let female fans find other women with the same interests, and it brought attention to a lot of stuff that would normally go ignored, and mostly, it was just harmless. If you didn’t like it, you didn’t have to read it. If you did like it, then it’s a real shame that it’s gone.

Scans_daily introduced me to several titles which I went on to buy. I found the atmosphere there friendly, even when people disagreed with each other. Without scans_daily, I’m not sure where to commune with comic fans, because that community was unique, as far as I know. I never had to stand by myself to make a point about sexism or homophobia in comics, or be afraid of being dismissed as an ‘overly sensitive girl’. And yes, I’ve seen that phrase in other comic forums.

I do think without a place to share, I won’t be buying as many comics. A big part of the fun is sharing with other fans.

drastic_quench

March 1, 2009 at 10:22 pm

That’s a damn shame. I bought a fair amount of books I wouldn’t have otherwise been exposed to without scans_daily.

There are so many reasons scans_daily was beneficial to Marvel and other comics companies, that it seems like they did themselves a major disservice by pulling the plug on it.

Don’t get me wrong – I understand copyright law (as an entertainment lawyer) and am a firm supporter of the owner’s right to control the use. But there comes a point when good business sense really could or should play a part in the decision of what to pursue in this arena. And one key part of copyright is that the owner *gets to decide* the use. So Marvel COULD have decided that scans_daily could exist. Perhaps they could have contacted the maintainers (who are just people who enjoy comics, not some evil group trying to scam the industry) to see if an agreement on posting rules could be reached. After all, most LJ comms already have maintainer-enforced rules.

Why was this the wrong reaction for Marvel, in my view?

For one, this does not make Marvel look like a company that understands or works with their fanbase. It makes them look like they had a knee-jerk legal department reaction to any use of copyright without considering what the use was. The comics companies always seem to be saying they want to know what their readers want, because they want to satisfy fans, and, in the end, sell more issues – well, THIS was something their readers wanted. And they didn’t consider that.

For another, many used the community to find new comics, decide whether they wanted to read a series, or point others in the direction of a series. I personally greatly expanded my collection after glancing over some Deadpool comic excerpts in the community (to the tune of ALL EIGHT Cable & Deadpool TPBs, and also some Iron Man and Spider-man) and pointed at least 2 others towards Cable & Deadpool (at least one of whom I know is buying up the TPBs now). I never refrained from buying a comic I would otherwise have purchased because of the community – but I DID buy comics I’d never have heard of after seeing them there.

Another great thing was the sense of community – you could ask a question about the continuity, or some trivia, or where to find a storyline in the issues, and people there would know and answer. Everyone was having a good time, enjoying something together. That kind of thing also leads to more comics fans, which equals more books bought. Again: good for Marvel.

And then there’s the small, bitter taste left in my mouth when I think of the great amount of effort people put into sharing their favorite comics or explaining why a run was so great, which is all lost now, along with the ability to quickly click and reference something archived there to talk about in a blog post or send to a friend.

It’s a big loss to comics discussion and community. What a shame.

Minamino Haruka

March 2, 2009 at 1:33 am

I bet it was Brian or a similar soul who filed the complaint versus scans_daily. I sense much bitterness (over not having been accepted as a comic book writer/artist perhaps? Over not being published at all in any form maybe?) in his posts here.

In a market where a sizable number of customers seem to purchase more out of an addiction-like need to know what happens to characters they grew up reading (more than appreciation of a quality story), I don’t think the Big Two can ignore a site that gives away major developments and important chunks of their product on a regular basis without any publisher control.

I’ve encountered at least as many people that kick the comic buying habit through the help of Scans Daily as I’ve encountered people that claim the forum led them to buy more product.

“I’ve encountered at least as many people that kick the comic buying habit through the help of Scans Daily as I’ve encountered people that claim the forum led them to buy more product.”

Then you simply heven’t encountered enough people, Huxford. From merely making a casual scan of the ‘net over the last couple of days, I’d say the ratio seems closer to 80/10 in FAVOR of readers using the forum to make comic book purchasing decisions. And more than half of the other 10% seem to be more of the snarky uninformed, who weren’t really actively engaging with the site to begin with.

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