Robot 6

Just Past the Horizon: The male space is just better hidden

So Scans_Daily has finally been shut down by livejournal. The usual hand wringing when a livejournal community gets suspended is going on, and there are places in the conversation where I see the feminine space versus masculine space argument creep in. I’m always interested in that argument, but I can’t really agree with the idea that Scans_Daily was deleted because it was feminine space. It wasn’t shut down because it was a girl community. It was shut down because it was a soft piracy community hosted by a panicky social networking website.

I’m not blind, I’ve seen the split in superhero fandom. I’ve seen how female fans tend to flock to fanfiction and underground communities while male fans center around message boards and creator websites. I know that there are a lot of comic book stores women just feel uncomfortable in, and that there are precious few in-person female-friendly shops out there. Many of us go through bookstores and mail-order, or the tried and true method of looking away from the Greg Horn covers when you enter the store. I know full well that some conventions are shitty places to be female. I’m not denying any of this.

I understand that there is precious little female space out there, and I understand that Scans_Daily was a community that began with a very female vibe as stated here:

A friend (in a private post) grumbled today about the dismissive attitude of certain commenters (”oh well, it was full of bitching and slash anyway”), declaring that reaction to be part of a broader discomfort that many male fans have with the feminine form of fandom. In response, she more or less said “a man in S_D feels like a woman in a comic shop.”

[Edited to add: I should clarify that the comments below use S_D as a jumping-off point for a broader discussion -- I admit I haven't visited the community in at least a year, and I can't defend or attack whatever it may have become recently, or the reasons for its removal.]

I remember being pretty shocked at the culture of S_D when I first discovered it years ago. It was a thriving community of fans interacting with superhero comics in an entirely different manner than I was used to. But it didn’t feel like “this is how they do it on the internet,” it felt like “this is how they do it when women are in charge.” I soon decided that superhero-comics-fandom (as represented by S_D) was a subset of fandom as a broader entity — that these folks were performing more or less the exact same practices (fanfiction, slash, icon design, roleplay, claiming) on Green Lantern that were being performed on Harry Potter and Stargate Atlantis and every other entertainment property in the world, to some degree.

(I also understand that Leigh’s post, as in the editor’s note, was not specifically on Scans_Daily right now but on Scans_Daily back then and male versus female space, that’s why I’m addressing this here and not in his comments.)

Now, putting aside the fact that in recent years this community had become the female-dominated equivalent of the Official DC Forums–full of griping and misery and hatred and nasty things said about the parentage of writers–there’s a factor much more prevalent than demographics. There’s the ongoing internet copyright legal fight.

I’m seeing a lot of denial among Scans_Daily defenders. A lot of people who think that what they were doing wasn’t the same as the guys on Pirate Bay because the files weren’t loaded to their own computers. And that little bit of nitpicking is really annoying me. Yes, personally I found the community harmless to the industry but this “we’re better than the file-sharers, we were actually doing marketing’s job for them” argument is bullshit. Everyone with a sense of sanity knew this community would get in trouble if the companies ever got a good look at it. This is the one that stretched the fair use law to the limit. That’s the one where posters routinely broke the limit on how much of a story they were supposed to scan and nobody mentioned it. That’s the one where a story was assembled across several posts. That’s the one that people cited whenever I asked how they knew what was happening in a book they were boycotting. You can easily find many bloggers linking there with “Now I won’t give Dan Didio any of my money but look what his writers did to Kyle Rayner” in their rants.

I know copyright law is a huge debate in female fandom, but I’d be far more sympathetic to the “we’re helping sell more books” argument if were it a large fanfiction and fanart site that got taken down rather than the internet equivalent of reading the books in the comic book store and then putting them back on the shelf.

Sure, it wasn’t a download site. There weren’t any torrents passed. There were rules against posting the whole book (that were stretched to the limit). But it was Piracy Lite. It was where people went when they didn’t know how to find the real internet pirate market and didn’t want to leave the safety of livejournal. It was for people who knew a full torrents were illegal but still wanted to catch the books for free. People without the intestinal fortitude for actual piracy. Now I can’t speak for the rest of Robot 6, but I’m personally not going to judge someone who passes a file or two anymore than I’m going to judge a jaywalker or someone who walks home with a box of pens from the office supply cabinet. (But if you go to the struggling local comic book store each week, scan the titles on the wall but buy nothing because you download the ones you want from your $60 a month broadband internet connection, I will judge you harshly.) But don’t go and argue that ten pages in one post with commentary explaining the continuity behind the story and ten pages in the next post with commentary explaining the continuity behind the story falls under fair use for critical writing or parody. We all know the opinions of “This plot idea sucks” or “You should totally read this miniseries” don’t usually need 50% of the artwork reproduced to support them (the movie clips you see on movie reviewer shows are less than 5% of the actual movie, and they tend to support them fine). I know there were full scenes scanned and issues spoiled in order to legitimately argue someone acted out of character or a creator had set something up in a horrible manner, and I know there were a lot of “OMG this scene is so cool you must buy and support this SERIES!!!” posts (one of those posts got me to pick up Manhunter) but that doesn’t change the fact that no one made a peep when the point of the post was just to catch you up to date by reproducing the product so you wouldn’t actually have to buy the book.

Scans Daily may have gotten some people back into comics, and good for them. And Scans_Daily may have allowed people a look at classic books that they wouldn’t otherwise see, and good for them there. (If I may point out, illegal file-sharing sites also let you look at out of print books. Doesn’t make them less illegal, unfortunately.) But the more vocal of the community’s link referrals seemed to be from the refuse-to-pay-but-can’t-look-away variety. The majority of comics criticism is negative, after all, and Scans_Daily was an easy place to link the negative criticisms in and explain why someone who hated the book knew so intimately what was happening between the covers. And this wasn’t just outside community, this was in the comments. This was in the member’s livejournals. “I’m boycotting DC because they killed my favorite character, but can you believe they did THIS?” “I wouldn’t let a penny go to Brian Michael Bendis, but you’ll never believe where he’s taking the Avengers NOW…” Yeah, the community was diverse–the linkers, the lurkers, the posters and the commenters all came from different attitudes with different goals–but you have to accept that people on the dark side of Scans Daily–the pirates-in-denial–were present and in many cases they were the ones dominating the discussion. The entire concern was in a murky legal space, and a murky moral space. It’s easy to see where Livejournal got a bit worried.

And yes, we all know this is not the only place that did this we’re-not-actually-pirates thing. We all know this is not the worst place that did it. But this was on Livejournal, owned by a company that is trying desperately to turn a community of female fans into revenue generators for advertising dollars without getting sued by anybody. This was linked to by bloggers and message boarders to explain what they were complaining about in a book they refused to buy. This community was the site of many creator-fan fights.

That’s not a masculine-feminine distinction. That’s a “Hey, we’re the most open group on the internet doing this” distinction.

The reason for such a backlash against the community defenders from retailer-types is not because of the gender of the defenders, but because so many of them seem to be in severe denial about just what they were actually doing on this site. It was reproducing the most important parts of a copyrighted product, and doing so on a site that gained money through advertising revenue. It doesn’t matter that it was fun, that you liked each other, that good communities are hard to fin, and that many of you went out and bought the stuff. A lot of your fellow community goers were “sticking it to the Man”, and bragging about not buying the books but still knowing what was going on. This entire “we weren’t a download site” argument is like saying “oral sex doesn’t count towards losing your virginity.” Wussy pirates are still pirates.

There’s some pride, perhaps, in the visibility Scans_Daily had in a subculture where women are mostly invisible, but that doesn’t really help keep Marvel’s Mighty Lawyers away from Livejournal, does it?

That said, I do think that if Scans_Daily were a male dominated community it would have not been suspended like this. Why? Because I don’t think it would have been on a site like Livejournal. In my experience, that’s where the male-female distinction seems to be. Female fans populate social network sites run by panicky male-dominated corporations who want to make money from selling advertising to women, but don’t really have the brass ovaries to deal with hosting female interaction on the internet. It’s like they expect feathered sugar with a hint of spice and are shocked to discover girls have locker room talk and smoke in the bathroom. Male fan communities seem to be owned and operated by like-minded males, the male-dominated comic company itself, the comic creator who gathers his own fans to his side, or the self-style Pirate King who set up the torrent site specifically for illegal activities and searched around for an ISP that wouldn’t check on him too closely. Livejournal’s jumpy about their fanbase. They know they need them to keep the traffic up, but they are scared to death to be held liable for what goes on on their site. There’ve been a few instances with this in the past with fanart and fanfiction, and it was only a matter of time before they freaked out about scans. I don’t think male fans are completely safe from legal repercussions for the various degrees of piracy, but they seem to hide better from people who find them unacceptable. They find more sympathetic hosts. Actual pirate sites have their own servers so jumpy ISPs won’t slam down on them. Why female fans are so tied to a corporate-run social site that doesn’t share their interests I can’t say for certain, but that dependency is what leaves female communities more vulnerable to being shut down than male communities.

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Comments

37 Comments

The reason for such a backlash against the community defenders from retailer-types is not because of the gender of the defenders, but because so many of them seem to be in severe denial about just what they were actually doing on this site.

I get that, but as you said, just because the were was an extremely vocal minority that seemed to characterize SD, the people who are saying that maybe SD was something more than just that, are in “severe denial”? It isn’t possible that this is how they were using the site, and that their experiences are just as genuine? That just because they were vocal, or loud enough to be noticed or commented on, they’re in denial? I think the speed in which the internet community at large is willing to condemn SD is disturbing for exactly what you said, SD wasn’t the first to do this, isn’t the last, and isn’t the end of the problem. It’s just the one that gets scapegoated, and I have to wonder if that has nothing to do (conscious or not) of the make up of the community.

I think somewhere along the line, the discussion of the male vs. female space got conflated with why SD was shut down. I don’t think that, I think many of the people who are hosting the discussion don’t think that, and I have to wonder why it continues to happen. The issue being discussed was the reaction, how the majority of the non LJ comic communities seemed to take what happened to SD with a glee that was uncomfortable when you realized how different their daily internets where compared to those who primarily experienced comics through LJ, and the social network there.

I don’t think it was conscious, I don’t even think it’s two or three steps removed, but I think the general make up of SD was significantly different to a degree where the standard comics internet whinging (“I will never buy So-and-So again!” and “They killed off my favorite character, prepare to die!”) was taken more seriously, despite little difference in tone or wording than other comic communities where the make-up was more…familiar. More male.

I’m not so sure the makeup was necessarily more female anyway. I posted a lot on scans_daily, but since my webcomics character was female, I used an icon with her picture on it. A lot of those who posted with female icons were not necessarily female.

Yeah, it was scuttled because of piracy lite. I’ll miss it, though. It may have been an excuse, but I can honestly say I DID buy some comics because I first saw a tease of it on scans. Of course, now every comic does at least four or five “preview” pages to boost up flagging sales, but hey, that’s okay, because they did it voluntarily. Scans just had the fans initiate what the companies are doing on Newsarama or CBR—on the other hand, at least the companies can make sure the major surprise was not what was revealed.

But—I was going to give Infinite Crisis a miss, until I saw the Earth-Two Superman returning—on Scans.

I wonder if there is any possibility that this will have an unintended side-effect—drive some of those who had, heretofore, AVOIDED the piracy sites–to them?

Which is much WORSE for the comics companies.

Charles Knight

March 1, 2009 at 12:46 pm

Indeed, the reaction here is not going to be “oh well, I”ll just have to buy them”, it will be “I”ll just have to torrent the whole issues”.

I think what’s causing a lot of the defensiveness and failure to grip reality fully for quite a few of the scans_daily folks is that they have no problem accessing CBR and other forums where folks are rejoicing to see S_D go down. And what they see there typically has nothing to do with whether they were doing piracy light – they see people who they KNOW pirate books throwing up their hands in glad praise the community is down because they enjoyed comics ‘ the wrong way’. That’s pretty hard to take. And unfortunately gives them something to latch onto other than ‘oh, yeah, we shouldn’t have done that.’

No one complained, however, when reviews of final crisis 6 contained moneyshots of Batman with the gun or Batman in the Omega sanction on the day of release – those pages weren’t something DC had given us, and I recognized the moire of a paper scan on several sites. Those pages could definitely be construed as spoilers, but the publisher didn’t mind – it was all free publicity. From people who enjoy comics ‘the right way.’

There’s a definite mismatch between what happened and what people are taking away – and it’s willfully so on all sides.

ACK — YES. Exactly. It’s natural — we let our friends get away with a lot more than we do people we don’t know, and SD and LJ was a space that was unfamiliar and sometimes even outright unwelcoming to those in the traditional comics sphere.

That feeling isn’t new, or even unique — ask any girl who steps foot into a comic shop for the first time. Anywhere else that behavior would get a pass or overlooked or gets accepted as a necessary evil, but becomes Big Sticking Points for those trying justify SD as “asking for it.”

That and, as you said, many of the people crowing over SD’s demise on shaky legal grounds, are often the ones that torrent whole issues, series and more, themselves. The hypocrisy is sometimes hard to swallow, and it kills any sort of dialogue or discussion, when it’s not acknowledged as relevant or even existing at all.

Lisa Fortuner

March 1, 2009 at 2:43 pm

Dafnap, are you sure you see where the hypocrites are? Because all weekend I’ve been reading people claiming that SD helps the comics industry and that it wasn’t a download site so it wasn’t illegal. At least two people in this very thread have said that going to a “real pirate site” is worse than reading on Scans Daily.

The initial reaction of a smile is the same as if the DCMB had been shut down, watching a site that put the worst face on to the rest of fandom go down results in that. But I can come up with three reasons why people who pirate comics in private might have hated your community and might hate you even more you now:

1) You were in plain site when people who own up to themselves that they are skirting copyright laws have enough sense to hide until it gets straightened out in the courts. You thought you were smarter than them and could be in the open like that without dealing with C&D, and now they’re happy you got proven wrong.

2) You were drawing ATTENTION to yourselves and the fact that people trade scans of comics in a very tightly knit industry. Eventually someone was going to come down, and it’s probably wasn’t going to end with you. I imagine a number of file sharers are glad it was Livejournal and not Marvel themselves who came down on you. Hell, I know bloggers who scan one and two page stuff that were worried Scans_Daily would bring the heat down on them, and I bet they’re glad to see you go too.

3) Members of the SD community still somehow think that they are BETTER than the guys who trade the whole scans on pirate sites, as so clearly evidenced in this thread.

So maybe it’s not hypocrisy, maybe it’s just natural human contempt for someone who thinks they can get away with things you know you can’t, someone who might get you in trouble through their carelessness, and someone who thinks despite that that they are smarter and on a higher moral ground than you.

Too bad…I had a lot of non monthly comic friends who followed comics through this site, and would engage me in a lot of conversation because of it (I have pretty much no friends who read comics in real life, so this was nice).

Even though it showed the sillier side of mainstream comics, it DID generate some interest in those ppl who had next to none without this site…I think it pry did pull a few new readers into monthly comics.

For some reason I never read it much, which is still strange to me…always forgot about it…maybe subconsciously was avoiding spoilers.

I will really miss scans daily! I stopped buying comic books and graphic novels back in ’91. The stories were becoming too repetitive and I got bored. a couple of years ago I cam across scans daily. I started reading the posts everyday and then bought the hardbound and trade paperback collections of many different titles. If it were not for scans daily, I would not have known about the writers renaissance and started to read comics again. I hope that a substitute develops with stricter “borrowing” parameters.

Because all weekend I’ve been reading people claiming that SD helps the comics industry and that it wasn’t a download site so it wasn’t illegal.

Lisa, I suspect you surf the internet much the same way I do — you seek out and respond to that which you disagree with and offer your own two cents. The fact that your internets are filled with different reactions than mine shouldn’t come as such a surprise, we’re seeking out different reactions and therefore witnessing different sides of the debate.

I want to ignore how you equated me with the entire SD community, since it’s cheap and misses the point and hardly even accurate. I hate pulling the “I haven’t participated in the community to any significant degree for years now for many of the reasons you stated” card, but it’s kind of hard not to when you’re being scapegoated by someone who should really know better.

I didn’t argue the legal grounds for SD’s cancellation at all, I was just pointing out the hypocrisy, conscious or not, that seemed to result out of two comic cultures who had always been uncomfortable with each other, coming to a head. Your post was about these two spaces coming in contact, and what you think is the point of contention, I disagreed and attempted to do so politely.

2) You were drawing ATTENTION to yourselves and the fact that people trade scans of comics in a very tightly knit industry.

That’s the tragedy of the entire S_D debacle — the fact that the industry is tightly knit, insular, and hostile to outsiders is exactly why a place like S_D flourished. It wasn’t in a traditionally comic-oriented space, it was open to newbies and fans alike. I think part of its popularity came out of that fact, the diverse nature of the community. That this may have led to its own downfall is suspect, I think like Ack said — it wasn’t a space that was recognized as legitimate, so while traditional comic message boards and blogs can discuss spoilers and post scans with abandoned, S_D got strung up for it.

The question of the legality of the scans — the extent of how far certain participants in S_D pushed the concept of “fair use” and the culture of a community that let it happen again, and again, and again is a fair one. But the discussion over “male” and “female” spaces is still germane and still relevant, I think, to the reaction of the traditional comics sphere to the new. That’s what I thought was being discussed, and if I’m wrong, I’m wrong.

But language like “you thought you were smarter then them” and “hate you even more you now” is hardly constructive or even accurate. It conflates me, one commenter, with the entirety of S_D. It’s dishonest.

Honestly, it’s the loss of the community aspect that made me devastated at the loss of s_d. There were almost 9,000 people who were members of that community, most of whom probably won’t reconnect with the rest.

I definitely don’t think LiveJournal being a female-dominated space had anything to do with scans_daily’s suspension.

Scans_daily was actually closer to 50/50 male/female, likely due to LJ being female-dominated and comics being a male-dominated industry/hobby. It wasn’t that it was female dominated, it was just accepting of everyone.

It was an anti-sexism, anti-racism, anti-homophobia, anti-ablism space. With scans_daily we lost an inclusive place to talk about an exclusive industry and hobby.

Yeah, we’re all a bunch of wanky pirates who just hadn’t been caught yet, but the real reason why everyone wants to justify its existence with stories of how it got them into comics or got them to buy such-and-such, and how those REAL PIRATES are so much worse is that we’ve lost our online comics home. And for the many non-US/Canada residents, who maybe don’t have comic stores at all, it’s an even greater loss.

I am glad you wrote this article, as it has helped me take a harder look at the legality of it all. But to everyone who is delighted by or laughing at scans_daily’s demise, I’m just sorry you missed out on all the fun there.

Speaking as someone who works at a comic shop and spends upwards of $120 a week on comics, I really liked Scans Daily. It was a fun little community based around poking fun at comics and some of the more memorable moments.

That said, if they’d manned up and actually MODERATED the illegal posts, they’d probably still be around.

So basically, as much as it sucks, it really is their own damn fault.

And I’ve never faulted downloading comics as a way to sample. I very, very, VERY rarely do it myself (and as with anything I download, only to see if I like it/get something out of production/carry over until I buy) but I can see the appeal and as long as you’re throwing down cash to support the books you like, I don’t see the problem.

We’re hitting this point with downloading where it’s much like the music industry…independants benefit from added exposure while big guns often find their products don’t hold up BEFORE they’ve been paid for. “Buy what you like” only goes so far when you can’t accurately sample. All this (and downloading as a whole) means is that it’s up to the creators to make their book a MUST BUY title on a regular basis. Which should really be the idea in the first place.

You’re not even trying to hide your schadenfreude.

“We’re hitting this point with downloading where it’s much like the music industry…independants benefit from added exposure while big guns often find their products don’t hold up BEFORE they’ve been paid for. “Buy what you like” only goes so far when you can’t accurately sample. All this (and downloading as a whole) means is that it’s up to the creators to make their book a MUST BUY title on a regular basis. Which should really be the idea in the first place.”

Make your book something people WANT to pay for? Nah. Where’s the logic in that. You should just buy it because:

A.) Its there and they made it.

B.) If you don’t you’ll be breaking the law.

If it sucks, well oh well. They have your money, and you didn’t break the law. You should be happy! Wait. You aren’t? Well, why not? /sarcasm

I haven’t discussed the loss of Scans_Daily anywhere except one forum, and that’s pretty much the sentiment. It makes me sad.

To me, in an honest world (and I realize how oxymoronic that is), people would be honest with themselves and pay for anything they liked that they downloaded. A lot of people still wouldn’t be happy with that, but my pity wouldn’t go all that far since if your work was good people would be paying for it.

Still, this is interesting. The idea that S_D got hidden because it was “female space”. I never really went there, so I had no idea it was a female-dominated site. I only heard rumors of its legendary cantankerous-ness and that nobody ever liked anything there.

Dafnap — You’re right, it was unfair of me to single out you as representative of the worst aspects of the community. I’m instinctively infuriated by your whole line of argument, so I ended up crossing the courtesy line. I was wrong to address those points directly to you.

However, those points still stand. You’re putting thoughts into other people’s heads here, and I was presenting the other side of the argument. Yes, it’s full of rage and resentment, but that’s what’s going on. When people have something going that they want to keep a low profile about, they resent a wanky community that draws attention to those actions. They resent a community that claims to be within their legal rights when doing the very same illegal thing that those people have been doing. That’s not hypocritical, the other pirates aren’t in denial about their own activities. They’re off BECAUSE they accept what they’ve been doing and this community doesn’t. It’s part of human nature, and it would have happened were the community slashy or not.

And nothing blinds me more with rage these days than seeing such a clearcut case of “This is what happens when people who have something potentially to lose notice something that could potentially cause that loss”—Scans Daily is HARDLY the first site taken down from a social network because of skirting copyright laws in this environment–and “this is how people who’ve managed to keep a lid on their activities and resent the person who can’t (along with those who are actively hurt by those activities such as the retailers) react to that” being held up as a “This is what happens to icky girl communities” example. Not because it dilutes the whole discussion about how people react to female space by introducing a false example, not because it excludes me as a female fan who didn’t find the space all that comfortable or any bullshit like that, but simply because it’s the wrong conclusion. It’s the wrong lesson to take from this. It will be used in the future to support the wrong conclusion again, and result in the wrong lesson being learned. This is a matter of legal murkiness, not gender hostility. One you react to by decreasing your profile or just ceasing your activities, while the other you react to by increasing your profile and stubbornly continuing your activities. Surely, you can see the difference here and the disastrous potential.

Really, though, I should stop arguing. I’m so irritated that this conflation is definitely going to happen again and the thread will go down the toilet.

Everyone else — Thanks for being so calm and cool-headed about this, sorry I’m not.

Fair disclosure, I edited the crap out of this comment because I realized some impulsive sentences weren’t what I had really been thinking. Sorry if you got the old version first.

“I get that, but as you said, just because the were was an extremely vocal minority that seemed to characterize SD, the people who are saying that maybe SD was something more than just that, are in “severe denial”?”

When you’re arguing that a site that a community that regularly violated copyright law shouldn’t have been deleted because of just how special the bond between community members was and the depth of their interaction, yes…you’re rightfully included in the “severe denial” group.

If you valued that community so much, then more should have been done to keep what you refer to as “an extremely vocal minority” from jeopardizing its existence.

Kevin:

re: “When you’re arguing that a site that a community that regularly violated copyright law shouldn’t have been deleted because of just how special the bond between community members was and the depth of their interaction, yes…you’re rightfully included in the “severe denial” group.”

I’m not the person you were responding to, but I’m an s_d-er who thinks the greatest loss in all of this was the community (though it has been somewhat revived in noscans_daily). I don’t think anyone is saying that our collective personal awesomeness should make us above the law–it’s just that when we are characterized as people who are simply whining because we’ve lost our free pirated comics, we’re quick to point out the other aspects of the community.

re: “If you valued that community so much, then more should have been done to keep what you refer to as “an extremely vocal minority” from jeopardizing its existence.”

Yup, you’re right. We’re all at fault. But I would also argue that those reacting to this who would view themselves as crusaders against copyright violations never ratted us out to The Powers That Be, either, despite quite clearly being aware of our existence.

Peter David is the only one who acted logically to all of this: he saw something illegal and reported it. Nobody else ever did, it would seem.

Maddy:

I can appreciate that angle (not all should be painted as whining about lost scans versus community feel). I’m mostly seeing people with arguments that seem to suggest that S_D’s positives outweigh the negatives in such a way that should have allowed it to keep going despite the copyright violations. Maybe the person I was responding to echoes your sentiments and I’ve just been seeing what I expect to see rather than what is there at this point.

“Peter David is the only one who acted logically to all of this: he saw something illegal and reported it. Nobody else ever did, it would seem.”

That’s an assumption that neither of us can really attest to the accuracy of. It could be that a blind eye was being turned to S_D by publishers until it was reported in such a way that could come up in a court of law as proof that they weren’t diligently protecting their copyright? Who knows. It is true that several creators (not necessarily copyright owners) have already acknowledged that they were very aware of S_D and appreciated the attention, so you may be right.

Your final paragraph falls apart, Lisa, on the implicit assumption that a male-dominated community wouldn’t have shut down a site that had gotten flagged for copyright violation. Maybe a torrent site wouldn’t have shut down such a community (and who says all torrent sites are run by men?), but the male Jonah Weiland, the male-dominated Marvel Comics, and the male Peter David would absolutely have put a stop to the same thing taking place on their own sites. If you think they wouldn’t have, you’re conning yourself.

Agree with everything else you said, though.

Lisa: well put, especially there at the end. Copyright issues and fandom segregation are separate issues, and you’re right to point out that agitation on one front may detract from progress with the other. Hopefully the fallout from Scans_Daily can include lucid conversations about BOTH, rather than a muddled mess of the two.

On the other hand, they ARE related, and people have done a lot of thinking and writing (online, in conferences, in dissertations) about the derivative nature of fanfiction, its status as a feminine phenomenon, and the subsequent anxiety that creates for feminism. Lisa is surely familiar with the discussion, but if anyone’s curious I found “How Fanfiction Makes Us Poor” to be an interesting starting point.

Fair enough, Kevin. Thanks.

I kept asking left and right why they didn’t move and ditch LJ at least a year ago, it being so obvious that it was just a matter of time, and why people even stick with LJ at all, and reading this article made me realize that I just wasn’t thinking; LJ itself is the home of female spaces online in many ways, and I guess ditching LJ for another home risks losing a community that took years to build up.
Over the years, just as much through being there at the right time as as the friends selection/locking and sense-of-security enhancing features, LJ has become the “soccer mom’s SUV” of online communities/social networking sites.

Before the Internet condemns Peter David to a hellish eternity of Lars Ulrich comparisons, has he actually confirmed or denied involvement in getting this site shut down?

And why is it that every comic book store must be “struggling”? The store that I have a regular file at has four locations in a small city. There’s also another great shop in the same city that I can also support. I guess I’m luckier than others.

This “comic book stores should be treated like charity cases” mentality is really starting to rub me the wrong way for some reason because I always feel like it’s a slap in the face to great comic book retailers that deserve to be in business not simply because they sell comics but because they do it very well and promote the medium well by doing all kinds of things right so that anybody can walk in and find something they want and not feel intimidated, no matter who they are.

Like the music industry and iTunes, and slowly, the movie industry, publishers and their creators should simply move to get in on the digital action themselves if they’re really losing money and sleep over it. The RIAA “sue everybody” approach has been seen as a rather colossal failure by many so maybe the industry should consider that in their calculations.

And what if someone physically lends somebody else their comics or trades? Or they get their comics fix at a library? etc, etc…

But there’s a perfectly legal way to read free comics online called webcomics that all the kids seem to be talking about. Many traditional publishers are already factoring that into their calculations. Because they increasingly have to.

As for the gender angle, it honestly didn’t enter my mind when I first read about the site being shut down. I am however, working on an advanced synthetic suit that will inhibit the emission of testosterone-intimidation rays that have been off the charts since my toxic waste accident.

As for “fandom segregation”, the historical baggage of the second term makes a discussion pertaining to the enjoyment of an entertainment medium by various demographics and their interactions a bit problematic.

“That’s not a masculine-feminine distinction. That’s a “Hey, we’re the most open group on the internet doing this” distinction.

The reason for such a backlash against the community defenders from retailer-types is not because of the gender of the defenders, but because so many of them seem to be in severe denial about just what they were actually doing on this site.”

On the other hand however, So many of the people attacking Scans_daily ALSO seem to be displaying severe denial as to why Scans_daily HAD to be the most open group on the internet doing it.

It was the ONLY way to advertise to female comic fans that they were a place that was female friendly. Its easy to find places to discuss comics, and its easy to find places to pirate comics. Its also easy to find places to DISCOVER comics. (speaking of american comics specificaly here).

But its very hard to find places to do that, that won’t ALSO make you feel like an outsider just because you’re a woman. (or homosexual)

Scans_daily was a place where that wasn’t the case. But without ADVERTISING that fact, it was incredibly unlikely that it would be found by anyone seeking that kind of place. Primarily because of the assumption that those places didn’t exist.

Wait, Adam, so they had to be openly reproducing copyright materials en masse in order to advertise female space? I’m fairly sympathetic to scans_daily, but that’s utterly ridiculous.

If scans_daily is a female-friendly space for fan discussion, fine, that’s all well and good. But being a female-friendly place is not an excuse or justification for violating copyright at such a scale.

Moreover, they’re not advertising being female friendly, though granted, the fact was in its profile. Many people never knew that scans_daily had begun as a site for female fans to discuss slash subtext. Notice that their name is “scans_daily” not “female comic fans” or some variation. That’s a fairly clear indication of what they were advertising.

For comparison sake, look at Girl-Wonder.org. They’re a female friendly comic site that actually advertises as a female friendly comic discussion site. Not as piracy-lite.

“Moreover, they’re not advertising being female friendly, though granted, the fact was in its profile. ”

for a long time it was also a header post, I’m not sure if it STILL was when it was shut down. It was the first thing you could read on the site, that it began as a slash community, and that no form of misogyny or homophobic attitude would be tolerated.

“Wait, Adam, so they had to be openly reproducing copyright materials en masse in order to advertise female space?”

They had to be in order to create it. For instance, my girlfriend now understands a bit about superhero comics. She knows that Batman And superman are in a separate continuity to Captain America and Iron Man (and, by learning this via scans daily, she also knows that the homoerotic subtext between those pairs is vast and interesting)

She would NEVER have learnt that in any other way. Scans_daily provided large enough chunks to fall on the wrong side of “Fair Use”, but also large enough chunks to begin to place the characters within a context she could understand. Those large chunks of pages were required to break through both her own pre-existing stereotypes of what superhero comics were about, and also to break through the years of continuity that stands against any new comic fan.

And, because they were easily and freely available, she wasn’t turned off by the creepy stares or immature attitudes she’d been subjected to every time i tried to get her into a comic shop.

Girlamatic is a great site, but she cant learn about batman there.

What scans daily did was REQUIRED to get her interested in those characters. She needed the context, she needed the evidence that there were more complex interpersonal relationships than she’d originally assumed, she needed to have her interest piqued by the subtexts, and she needed a place to do all that, and not feel like 25 nerds were raping her with their eyes. That place does not exist anywhere else.

She also learnt a fair bit about the treatment of women in comics. There was a recent explosion or argument in there pre dating the recent PAD one, featuring Dan Slott, due to some happenings in avengers. The tigra pregnancy thing.

Some people claimed (rather agressively ) that it harkened back to the old Women In Refrigerator’s thing. But here’s the thing, she didn’t know what that was. She didn’t care at all about comics then. She had no context on which to frame that at all.

But she DID have context on this one. Enough of it was posted and discussed. And, it disgusted her.

the original article mentioned this: “But the more vocal of the community’s link referrals seemed to be from the refuse-to-pay-but-can’t-look-away variety. ”

So, in the case of the Women in Refrigerator’s thing, which is better? Look away? Remain ignorant of the whole affair? I cant really see the benefit in that.

Pay for the books to educate yourself, feel disgusted and then realize that not only are there not enough women reading in the first place to make a loud enough voice, but you also supported the companies printing things you felt reprehensible? Doesn’t really strike me as a winning plan either.

What recourse do women have at this point, to point out that they ARE willing to read (and interested in) good superhero comics, but they AREN’T willing to support the system as it is currently?

Adam, I didn’t recommend Girlamatic (a web comic site). I recommended Girl-Wonder.org.

I suspect, if you go to that link and look around a little. Perhaps check out the forum some. You may see why certain parts of your argument do not quite work.

What was special about S_D was it provided an illegal service to a variety of co-conspirators with pretty much the same set of lame rationalizations you would hear from the same demographic caught for any crime at the local station house or criminal defense attorney’s office.

I especially applaud the folks going to the torrents. I’m a network engineer who stopped using torrents (for legitimate purposes, such as Linux downloads) because my security software picked up a pattern of exploit attempts related to the torrent traffic, some of it based on the torrent protocol itself. Bad things happen to bad people.

As I have explained to many tune-sharing kids over the years who were shattered because their computer system was nuked or identities stolen by some bit of malware, what made them think that people with a business model based on illegal activity would suddenly develop a respect for rights and property when dealing with you.

Thanks for the “it’s an attack on female forms of fandom” stuff, laughed so hard stuff came out of my nose. And the “male” stuff isn’t well hidden either. Publishers and law enforcement are getting better every day at shutting this stuff down. No thanks to the crooks that run it.

“Adam, I didn’t recommend Girlamatic (a web comic site). I recommended Girl-Wonder.org.”

oh, that was just a mistype actually, it was Girl-Wonder i was referring to. In fact, my girlfriends seen it (due to The Planet Karen authors recent fire) Unfortunately, its of no interest to her at all.

Girl Wonder is a comics ACTIVISM site. This is still a great thing, but its a different thing. for a start, In order to want to be an activist, you need to have a cause you care about. you ALSO have to want to be an activist.

2 years ago, she didn’t care at all about “mainstream American” comics, period. Now she has a bit of an interest in them purely based on scans_daily, youtube, and the few American comics i was buying that i got her to read. Everything she eventually started buying (Strange girl, Runaways, My Faith in Franky, Nightmares and fairy tales and everything Johnen Vasques made) was directly the result of free, word of mouth samples that she could acquire and read in a comfortable casual setting.

Her interest in comics(superhero comics specifically) is still not at the point where she’d want to actually participate in a forum like Girl-Wonder. (Nor is her knowledge at a high enough point where she feels she could do so in an educated manner).

Or, to illustrate using an appropriate forum title from Girl Wonder:

Girls Read Comics! (And They’re Pissed)

No, she doesn’t. No yet, anyway. And a place about why they piss other girls off isn’t exactly about to get her to start.

(I’m certainly not saying that scans_daily wasn’t breaking laws btw. I’m saying the laws need to change. Just because a law exists, doesn’t mean a law is right. Or logical. Or Helpful. I could go on.)

You’re ignoring the fact that Girl-Wonder also has a recommendation page for new comics. Discussion forums. Right on the side of the page, there are links to blogs and columns themed around what they love about comics, various dissections of gender in comics, and a blog centered entirely around Supergirl.

I’m not a member of the site but dismissing it as just an activism site betrays ignorance. There’s a lot more there and readily accessible and obvious from the front page.

There’s nothing scans_daily really provided that going to a comic book store and flipping through monthlies or trade paperbacks couldn’t provide except discussion, which CAN be found in female friendly places other than scans_daily. And the potential for drawing female fans into discussion is not a justification or defense for copyright violation that any court has yet recognized.

“There’s nothing scans_daily really provided that going to a comic book store and flipping through monthlies or trade paperbacks couldn’t provide except discussion”

Aside from the fact that the nearest comic shop to me presently is a 2 hour trip, and that my girlfriend generally chose to stay outside because it wasn’t a friendly environment to her. Nor was flipping through the comics actually allowed there. And the closest “feminist friendly comic shop” (a term that’s loaded with Activist leanings) on their map is literally on the other side of the country.

What scans_daily provided that was of benefit to her was the exact same thing people argue made it bad. Both are the act of reading a bit of the comic and then not buying it (exactly what you just described as near as i can tell). The only real difference that made it illegal was the extraordinary ease and availability of the process.

“Right on the side of the page, there are links to blogs and columns themed around what they love about comics, various dissections of gender in comics, and a blog centered entirely around Supergirl.”

None of which she has any reason to care about, unless she FIRST has a reason to actually be interested in comics. There’s a great essay linked there right now on Alias (give or take the horrible pink background, which I’m not sure is helping anyone), but it has as much chance of getting her interested in alias as the similar essays on yaoi she reads has of getting me into yaoi. (and that’s NOT because i have no interest in yaoi. I’m now a huge fan of a few yaoi books, that were introduced to me in the exact same way as I’ve introduced her to other comics)

“And the potential for drawing female fans into discussion is not a justification or defense for copyright violation that any court has yet recognized.”

Again, I’m not arguing that Scans_daily wasn’t against the law. I’m saying the law is flawed. In addition, the argument that the act of breaking a law makes you no different to anyone else breaking the same law, regardless of intent, is inherently flawed. The notion that piracy is piracy, period, is just as ludicrous as the notion that trespassing is trespassing, period.

Lisa Fortuner

March 5, 2009 at 2:35 pm

Hey Adam, if your girlfriend is slightly interested in superheroes but dislikes the comic book store, then why not just show her your comics? Is your apartment not a female friendly environment?

Actually, Adam, what makes my suggestion (flipping through trade paperbacks/comics at a shop, of for that matter a book store, which usually has a fair selection) different from what scans_daily was doing, is that when you go to a shop and flip through the material you are not illegally reproducing material to which you do not own the copyright. .

It is a shame that your girlfriend does not have easy access to a comic book shop or that she is somehow unable to become interested in material that she cannot illegally partake of beforehand. But that is not a good justification for the people involved with scans_daily to violate the law.

The law is designed to protect the rights of the people who create their product, including the right to reproduce it. While it is true that sometimes it benefits sales to allow people to take a look at the product prior to buying it, it’s also true that it is, and should be, the right of the manufacturers to determine whether this happens, and to what extent.

I’m sorry that this may have a negative effect on your girlfriend’s comic enjoyment, but perhaps you can introduce her to the preview pages that are available at Newsarama or here at CBR. Or you can show her your own comics, instead. That’s not, as far as I’m aware, against the law.

“Hey Adam, if your girlfriend is slightly interested in superheroes but dislikes the comic book store, then why not just show her your comics?”

because our tastes aren’t the same. I have gotten her reading a few comics that i do enjoy (scott pilgrim, the authority) but the majority of what i buy isn’t to her interests.

“it’s also true that it is, and should be, the right of the manufacturers to determine whether this happens, and to what extent.”

The fact that it IS the right of manufacturers to determine whether it happens IS true. That’s definitive.

The fact that it SHOULD be however, is not definitive. Again, the fact that something IS a law, doesn’t make it RIGHT.

I would argue said laws (as they stand now) are outdated, over-reaching, and severely detrimental to society and culture. (I am not alone in this thought, though the degrees of which people agree with me will differ)

“But that is not a good justification for the people involved with scans_daily to violate the law.”

I doubt the people at scans_daily had “a” justification, but to any of them that DID have that justification, I’d argue that it IS a good one.

Personally, i think the right of women (or gays, or blacks, or Asian’s, or whatever) to fully educate themselves about an industry they feel marginalizes them, and publishes works they feel perpetuates insulting, potentially dangerous attitudes towards them completely outweighs the right of publishers to make profit off perpetuating insulting dangerous attitudes.

Whether you agree is entirely your own decision (and one, i feel i can only influence by pointing out my own reasons for feeling that way), but i don’t feel that merely saying “breaking the law is wrong, and that’s that” is a sufficient answer to.

And, i don’t feel that the free samples the publishers allow on places like here or newsarama or anywhere else are suitable to educate people on those issues sufficiently. I also don’t feel my budget stretches enough for me to buy copies of everything to do it either (and, as mentioned, wouldn’t feel comfortable providing the companies publishing them more money.)

I mean, I’m not sure its at the level of “you’re a woman interested comics? you have to sit at the back of the bus” but I’m not really the right person to answer that, all my experience is second hand at best. I do think there’s enough evidence however that if someone was to claim that’s how they felt, It couldn’t simply be disregarded as hysterics (exaggeration perhaps, but not groundless).

Okay, Adam, I’ll bite for a second.

Say the laws regarding distribution/reproduction rights are changed and manufacturers no longer have this control over their own product: how exactly are they supposed to get reimbursed for the cost and labor of making it?

I mean, say a writer spends x hours a day writing. Writing isn’t as easy as it looks after all, so one really ought to be paid for it, right? And then we consider that those hours are hours that he/she could be spending at a regular job with regular wages or salary. Of course, that would mean that we don’t get to enjoy the product, but it’s a trade off, I suppose. A person has to eat.

Since this is a comic, well, we can also look at the artist, who not only has the same time/labor issues as a writer, but probably uses fairly expensive supplies. Editors probably ought to be paid too, considering how upset we are when people forget things like whether character X is married or character Y is dead. And so on and so forth.

The fact is, these people make money through the sales of their product. These sales are affected through the distribution of the product. They are also affected by the distribution of the product. Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free, right?

The fact is that people have a lot at stake in the right to distribute and reproduce their property. I’m not saying that the law can’t or even shouldn’t be changed, but if you are going to do so, you really have to keep in mind the competing interests, and that, to most of the people making these decisions, the right of a person to control how they earn money with their creations tends to outweigh the convenience concerns of your girlfriend.

(And as for whether or not a justification is “good”, let me put it this way: do you think you’d win a court case with THAT as your defense? If so, good luck. Personally, I suspect the court will consider the myriad of other ways a person can educate oneself about a community and a product prior to resorting to stealing it .)

“Say the laws regarding distribution/reproduction rights are changed and manufacturers no longer have this control over their own product: how exactly are they supposed to get reimbursed for the cost and labor of making it?”

Well, let me ask you this: I’m assuming you’re a fan of comics. Or writing. Or SOMETHING creative anyway. If you could get it for free, would that automatically mean you wouldn’t buy it? or support it monetarily in any way?

I can tell you for a fact, that i can get nigh on any creative thing i want for free. I also, clearly, have no moral objection to doing it, and i have no real fear of the repercussions (come what may). I also have a shelf full of books. I have a shelf full of comics that i already had digital copies of. Shelves of dvd’s.

People aren’t nearly as stupid or greedy as people like to accuse them of being.

The penny arcade book seemed to sell OK despite the fact that its all available on their website. NiNs ghosts release did great for them, and the only way to order it was from a page which featured the free downloads right next to it. Cory Doctorow provides totally free downloads for every one of his books, which still make best seller lists (in fact, recently he had to set up a system where he could direct the people wanting to give him money for the free ebook versions to instead buy print versions for libraries.) Phil Foglio says he quadrupled his readers, and tripled his sales by moving to the web.

The concept that people wont buy the cow if they can get the milk for free doesn’t really hold up to well. Especially not when you’re talking to people who love cows.

“do you think you’d win a court case with THAT as your defense?”

Oh, i doubt it. But, if you think the law is wrong, and willingly refuse to obey it, Then the consequences of that action are something you might have to deal with. But that’s not the same as ACCEPTING it. Acceptance requires agreement. There’s very little I personally could do about it if the big wheel stopped on me (something I’m potentially increasing the likelihood of by openly discussing in public, in a famously insular community I’ll admit), but such is life.

Eventually however, i don’t think that defense will be required. Laws bend to the public, not the other way round. And, in a society increasingly reliant on a giant machine that only serves the purpose of Copying and Distributing information, I think they will. Provided of course that the benefits of letting that machine do what it does best are obvious to the majority of people. Apples Itunes arrived two years after Napster was launched by a couple of teenagers, just after they erupted into the public eye due to court battles, and just before they were shut down. I don’t think that’s coincidental.

Nor do i think that the fact that some ballsy, law breaking teenagers managed to bring to the public eye something that changed the face of the entire marketplace is insignificant.

And, nor do i feel that the music business, nor the public are now in a worse position because they did.

They broke the law, and their defense didn’t hold up in a court of law, but i thank god they did it. I truly believe they enriched the entire world.

Citing “civil disobedience” through illegal file-sharing leading to the great freedom of choice that customers now have to buy MP3 files instead of CDs? The teenagers swapping Metallica songs for free over Napster provided a great service to society in general? Really?

I think I can see why no one bothered to respond to your argument after that post. :)

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