Robot 6

Publishers get together to beat down pirates [Updated]

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The FBI has served a warrant on the pirate site HTMLcomics.com and shut down their servers.

Acting on a warrant that alleged criminal copyright infringement, they shut down the site and confiscated the servers, according to this press release from the law firm Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP.

According to the release, DC, Marvel, Dark Horse Comics, Bongo Comics, Archie Comics, Conan Properties Int’l LLC, Mirage Studios Inc., and United Media set aside their differences, formed a consortium, and lawyered up in order to shut down the site, which claimed an average of 1.6 million visits per day and offered 6,630,021 pages of comics available for unrestricted reading.

Rich Johnston blogged about these guys a few weeks ago, noting that they claimed that they weren’t violating any copyright laws because they make the pages available for viewing online but not for download. Of course, it took his commenters about 30 seconds to defeat that, and anyway, the Department of Justice begs to differ with them on the legal issues.

UPDATE: Colleen Doran has some experience with this site and its proprietor.

We’ll have more on this as it develops.

The full press release is below.

Pirate Website www.Htmlcomics.com Shut Down by Coordinated Efforts of Department of Justice, FBI, Katten and Consortium of Comic Publishers
May 5, 2010

LOS ANGELES – 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.

Katten has one of the nation’s premier, full-service entertainment and media practices, providing comprehensive domestic and international representation in the entertainment industry. The firm’s entertainment and media attorneys consider themselves partners with clients from concept to completion. When litigation becomes necessary, the practice represents its clients aggressively and effectively, in matters involving intellectual property issues, contractual and business tort disputes and distribution rights issues, among others. Katten also provides representation to entrepreneurs in business and personal matters. The firm’s entertainment attorneys pride themselves on providing cutting-edge, creative solutions to complicated problems.

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Comments

160 Comments

Those guys were idiots openly flouting the law who were asking for attention, they deserved it.

Crabby Lioness

May 5, 2010 at 4:15 pm

That’s a shame. My husband enjoyed reading lesser-known material that’s been out of print since the 1940s and 1950s on that site, and I used it to see which collections were worth purchasing and which were not. I boght a lot of squarebounds I would not have touched otherwise thanks to that site.

That press release gives me a headache. Also, I’ve never heard of this site before. I’m feeling like this isn’t the victory they think it is.

…… Yeah it probably was breaking more than a few laws, but I’ll admit to having used it to read some older comics from before my time, and what not to experiment.

Yeah, this kind of sucks. I can’t tell you how many books I started buying because they were on that site. Deadpool, Secret Warriros, Hulk, etc. Plus I got to read out of print stuff like Flex Mentallo. Was the site morally wrong? Yes. But was it also awesome? Yes! There’ll be a day that these publishers wish they can attract that much attention to their works.

I only found out about the website shortly before it shutdown- and that has been for several weeks now. The shutdown didn’t just happen. I have to say that I did like the site and it enabled me to read the old Miracleman series and that Flex Mentallo series mentioned before. As others said I also went out and bought trades after checking out the material first on htmlcomics.com.

Yeah it was probably morally and legally wrong but he didn’t charge for anything and the publishers got publicity and sales out of it.

Putting up a few sample pages to promote the publication might be ok to some degree…but the full book or comic…c’mon…Also those out of print stuff will eventually go digital for purchase and download eventually by the publishers. You manga pirates out there…watchout! YOU ARE NEXT!

Not even that big of a victory for the publishers….Also, as a comic shop employee, I cannot tell you how many people are now buying books or trades of books they downloaded…

Ryan Valentine

May 5, 2010 at 4:45 pm

I don’t really see what the big deal is about this. There are likely dozens of websites exactly like this one. The whole Napster fiasco from the last decade has proven that you really can’t stop this sort of thing. Legal or not, the genie is out of the bottle.

I’m surprised I hadn’t heard about this before it hit Bleeding Cool, and once it did, I knew it wasn’t long for this world.

It is stealing…but hey this is capitalism–a whole economic system built on theft. There is always “surplus value” be it stealing from the person originally creating the work (paying them less than you ought) or stealing from the consumer (charging more than you ought) or us consumers stealing from the companies who do the rest of the stealing.

Damn it! I just discovered this site about a month ago and had so much stuff I planned on checking out.

Oh well, reading from a computer screen gives me a headache anyway.

Crabby Lioness

May 5, 2010 at 5:18 pm

Marc C, how is it stealing if you turn around and buy the book? I’ve spent an awful lot on X-Men Legacy collections after reading the series on that site. That’s money that left my pocket and went into Marvel’s bank account, without making a stop at the website along the way. How does that qualify as stealing?

I have to say I have used htmlcomics for quite some time. It got me started on many series I would have never picked up normally and also it was nice to read old books that have never been reprinted for whatever reason. The thing cracks me up is that the comic companies never take the hint and put together something like this and make some actual money off it.

Robert Hicinbothem

May 5, 2010 at 5:21 pm

Wow…I never heard of this site, but reading all these comments about reading the stuff online and then buying it…I must be nuts! I always buy issues when I am interested in reading something. Sometimes it works out, sometimes it doesn’t. If I don’t like what I buy, I just sell the issue. There are enough samples of books on sites like this one that I never found the need to seek out free sites like that. I think it is good for the publishers they are gone.

Wow! I was really scared there for a minute with the logo used on the front page to advertise this. Thank god Pirate Bay is still there and I’ll be able to pick up this week’s scans…

Never heard of it, but you know what: “One site is shut down, two more will replace it” :D

Peace.

I am amazed at all the people that said they read something there are then bought the trade. I am sure that none of you are blatant thieves like “Dan L-Pgh” who read the stuff for free because you are too cheap or do not care. Keep stealing the stuff then do not get surprised when all books are $3.99 or more.
Plus, it is not like the writers or artists work hard or anything and in turn should be paid for it. Nah just keep stealing and please give me your address so I can take your car just because I need it.

It’s ironic how DC and Marvel team up to shut down thieving websites only to turn around and fend off the families of creators they ripped off years ago.

I love everyone crying like that site was the only way to sample comic books, and thus the only way to figure out if they like something enough to buy it. Please. Every major comic publisher (and most minor publishers) releases tons of free online previews of books leading up to their release. You can either read them here at CBR or other comic news sites or at their official sites. Then there’s also digital comics, many free or very cheap.

If you’re really interested in finding new stuff, there’s much more legal ways to go about doing it.

“I am amazed at all the people that said they read something there are then bought the trade. ”

I’m not. It’s common consumer behavior. And people like Baen Books use it to leverage sales high.

That said… Htmlcomics is the home of jackasses and ‘holes. Cause it’s not THEIR decision to make. If the Big Two want to be idiots…let them That’s their right.

“If you’re really interested in finding new stuff, there’s much more legal ways to go about doing it.”

Yeah, but none as easy. Why navigate multiple websites of multiple publishers, most of which are pretty messy and poorly laid out, when I can go to one, look at a huge list of stuff, and go “oh hey, that sounds interesting” read it, and then turn around and buy it?

A lot of people are having a hard time blindly spending money right now. Informed purchases are the way things go these days. There’s a reason a lot of records are released to stream in full these days.

It’s great that they’re cooperating to shut down pirates.

Now if only they’d cooperate to create a decent digital comics delivery system.

comicsatemybrain

May 5, 2010 at 5:51 pm

What’s really funny is that this guy *knew* he was running a serious risk.

“My posting of my website is because I know … that the publishers of the comic books are the most powerful and the most well organized in their handling of their copyrights for literature (obviously not as strong as movie or television, though). I decided to put the site up to use as a proving ground. If in fact I can get past them, then I con progress to the next step, and use my same code to process thousands of literature books per day, with the end goal of dedicating spare time for 2 years straight (along with a few other developers whom are willing to participate) and to publish the entire Library of Congress.”

http://blog.newsarama.com/2009/01/15/attn-marvel-and-dc-legal-departments/

And even prior to that posting, he was told at the FindLaw forums that he was told that his site was a violation of copyright law.

http://boards.answers.findlaw.com/n/pfx/forum.aspx?tsn=1&nav=messages&webtag=fl-small_busine&tid=54640

I am very happy to see a pirate site shut down. It pisses me off when I tell people about a great comic series and they say I’ll just pirate it. Sod off support creators.

I’m all for defending creator’s rights, but the fact is that htmlcomics made a lot of out-of-print titles available to the public for the first time in decades.

My suggestion would be a Napster-style solution, ie revive htmlcomics or something like it with the consent of the copyright holders. And yeah, it’d be on subscription. Thoughts?

J. A. Crestmere

May 5, 2010 at 6:04 pm

If someone wants to build up a site like this again, it will be up again and this time it might be in a country where publishers can’t do anything.

I’d guess a great number of sales comes from used copies/ebay and the creators don’t see any profit off that avenue either. I’m not sure why the companies don’t come up with a decent system for online reading. I personally don’t want boxes upon boxes of floppies and I read trades and throw them back up on ebay to sell so I can buy new ones. Htmlcomics may have done it illegally but they had a perfect system for online reading.

Hi Scott,

Not everyone makes six figures and can purchase 50 or so comics a month at $2.99 and more recently $3.99 a piece.

That being said, really I was just being sarcastic. At this point, I subscribe to only 4 or 5 comics at a time and can afford them and pick them up at my local comic shop, and if I recall, the only downloads I”ve done in the past year were a full run of Promethea and Invincible, so I guess i’m guilty of being a minor user. Still guilty in your eyes, but that’s life.

But I just think it’s hilarious that they feel they are doing ANYTHING at all, when there’s going to be other websites set up in random countries that can never be shut down. CDs have been pirated since the 90′s, and there’s no slowing it down.

I’m so pissed right now. I absolutely hate the way these incredibly greedy companies refer to Html Comics as a “pirate” website. It was NOT a pirate website. It was an online library. How was Html Comics ANY different than a public library?

I go to my public library all of the time, check out multiple graphic novels and return them. All without paying one dime. Are the comic book companies going to team up and shut them down too? They should…because tha’t s what Html was doing.

Anyone who argues that the comics in the website were stolen is an idiot. Do you seriously think the owner of that website “stole” more than 5,000 comics and scanned them in? At some point SOMEONE paid money for those comics. Just like a Library. At some point, SOMEONE paid money to buy that graphic novel and donate it to Library.

And before any of you corporate slaves jump on my throat yes DC and MARVEL ARE greedy! If they cared about fans at all they would collect stories that didn’t sell that much when they first ran for the simple reason that there are fans of the stuff that want to read it. It’s called fan loyalty. Instead they give us a gigantic middle finger and refuse to collect shit that didn’t sell well.

There are almost 60 Hellblazer issues still uncollected, Miracleman, Hunter: The Age of Magic, I Am Legion, Bad Planet, Books of Magick, Hellblazer: Bad Blood, etc etc. Html Comics allowed me to actually read those issues for the first time.

All those people saying that reading free comics does not translate into purchasing them are also idiots. My ENTIRE collection is built upon that principle. I don’t know who these millionaires are in this site but I NEVER just plop 20 bucks down for a graphic novel I am unfamiliar with. And the few times I’ve done so I have gotten incredibly burned by horrible writing and horrible art.

I own every volume of Y:The Last Man…bought them all AFTER I read them for free from the Public Library and loved them. Same with Preacher, Sandman, Lucifer and Fables. Shuting down HtmL Comics will get the big companies nothing from me. I will now buy even LESS graphic novels since I can’t sample them to see if they are any good.

And whoever said that there the comic companies put out enough free comics and sample pages…you are also a moron. How exactly can I sample a series that ended in 1996? Are they going to reprint the first issue and hook me up for free? I doubt it. And comic book store owners are absolute dishonest cats when it comes to selling their product. Almost all their graphic novels are frequently wrapped in plastic so that you can neither see the art or read the plot. You are forced to buy something based on pure faith that its good…that and his lying words trying to get your money.

Back issue bins are a joke. I live in a pretty big town (Richmond, VA) and have spent countless hours searching back issue bins for comics that are not even that old or rare…and I can never find anything. Just endless copies of BS that no one bought the first time.

Capitalism just infuriates me sometime. I have never downloaded a comic before…but I might start now seeing how little these big companies care about my enjoyment. If they won’t work with me and give me a small treat repaying me for the THOUSANDS of dollars I have given them over the years then they can go suck a big one.

I will admit to downloading a lot of comics in my time, but as many people have stated above, this has just led to me buying more and more books. No matter what, there will be people who will download comics and if there weren’t any to download they would just stop reading. I guess I could feel better about myself and morally justify what I do because I also spend a decent chunk of change each week at my lcs.

Also… I am not going to say too much, but even if you shut down all the torrent sites and all the sites like the one above, people will still get their comic book scans. I have never heard one person talk about the easiest way to get pretty much any comic out there.

Finally,,, I agree with everybody above that the different comic book companies are going to have to band together and put out a comprehensive, itunes like place where people can get all their comics digitally if they want. Why are people who are so used to not only getting books for free, but also in one place, going to start paying for comics and then have to visit several different places. I know it may not be right morally but that hasn’t stopped people

Good that this was shut down. Bad that there’s no legal way to get most titles digitally.

I know some people who download via torrent because they don’t have space for print books; they’d buy digital copies if DC and Marvel would sell them.

Funny this is coming up, I just received the last two books of Grant Morrison’s Animal Man and Seven Soldiers of Victory a few hours ago. Both series of which I read (and BOUGHT WITH MONEY) their earlier respective volumes through htmlcomics. That’s seven books right there (again, BOUGHT WITH MONEY), not including the other ones I had bought and planned on buying.

Their loss, I suppose. All they’ve done is make a martyr.

And let me throw this off-topic, but in line with how comic book companies could care less, example. Why would I ever pay my LCS for a trade paperback when I can buy it on Amazon for 37% off, with free shipping and not pay any tax (once again, sarcasm, because I still buy at my local LCS, but these things are reality!).

Sorry to the creators, but to hell with the larger companies…

“How was Html Comics ANY different than a public library?”

A public library doesn’t make copies of books for distribution.

I’m curious about the claim that the comics posted were not available for download. Unless the page images were protected somehow, couldn’t individuals simply copy the images one by one? It’s more time-consuming than downloading a torrent of an issue, but it’s the same end result.

1.6 million visits a day? Considering most books can’t seem to sell 100,000 copies these days, obviously not everybody’s buying books after reading them for free. Who are all these people?

I used that site alot when I travelled and was away on the road. I also loved reading out of print stuff that will never be put out again by anyone. One novel thing I thought was interesting was that copying was blocked by the site itself. If you tried to copy any image a popup told you “No Copy Allowed” and your copy function on that page was disabled. To me, this was a library through and through. Far better alternative than usual torrent sites.

Everyone who is defending HTML Comics needs to get an education in copyright law. What this site was doing was illegal. Period. Whether you enjoyed the free comics, or you think publishers are greedy pigs, or you went out and bought a trade after reading the free version is entirely irrelevant. The fact is, HTML Comics did not have the right to distribute someone else’s copyrighted material, end of story. For the facts on copyright law, I’d recommend a visit to the website of the World Intellectual Property Organization (www.wipo.int). they do an excellent job of laying out the facts in language that anyone can understand.

Copyright laws were created for a reason, primarily to protect the economic rights of creators. Do you people who support piracy have so little respect for the creators whose work you claim to enjoy that you can justify taking money out of their pockets, because, in a very real sense, that’s what piracy does.

I know there’s a sense of entitlement out there; Sandinista above encapsulated that thought perfectly. However, simply being a “fan” in no way entitles you to read comics for free. Publishers owe you nothing; either you buy their product or you don’t. That’s your choice. But to whine that you can’t get something you want without paying for it is ludicrous. I’d like a 9.4 copy of ACTION #1, but I’m not going to get it because I can’t afford it. It’s as simple as that. We’ve all had to cut back on the comics we buy in bad economic times, but to suggest publishers should simply give stuff away is silly. Publishing is a for-profit business. Marvel and DC are in this game to make money, not to make sure that you have all the free comics you can read.

Those who say that it’s going to be hard to curtail piracy are absolutely right, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t object to the practice. Just because you can do something – like downloading comics illegally – doesn’t mean you should.

And when you do, don’t be surprised when someone else calls you a criminal and holds you accountable for your actions.

comicsatemybrain

May 5, 2010 at 7:23 pm

Copying at the site couldn’t be done from the viewer page. You could, however, download images individually by calling on their URL directly without using the viewer set-up. Once you knew the directory organization, downloading could be done just as Pennyforth suggests.

James from the Block

May 5, 2010 at 7:26 pm

There are a lot of bizarre analogies here.
“How is it different from a public library?” Your library legally acquired those books, either through purchase or donation. The publishers were compensated.
“I’d guess a great number of sales comes from used copies/ebay and the creators don’t see any profit off that avenue either.” They don’t need to profit from your private sale of a book that you purchased legally. If you legally purchased that book, the publisher was compensated. If you bought a car from Ford, then Ford has made it’s profit. If you turn around two years later and sell that car to somebody else, a representative from Ford is not gonna come to your home asking for his cut. They’ve already been compensated.
“How is it stealing if I turn around and buy it later?” I don’t know, but try taking a bag of Doritos from the store without paying for it, eating the entire bag, decide you liked it so much that you’ll return to the store later on to purchase it. Let me know how it turns out.

I’m very anti-piracy, and 100% for compensating artists and legal copyright holders for their work. But I’ve occasionally used this site. Why? To read things like Kamandi: Last Boy on Earth, for example, which either I was too young to read when they were released, or I wasn’t “into” a particular type of comic at the time. I would buy collections of such things if the publishers released them. But they won’t. So my options are tracking down the individual back issues, or buying the occasional out-of-print collection that costs more than the actual run of a title.

Factor in that, for those of us who don’t live near a comic book shop (which seems to be more and more people each day), the more niche trade paperbacks are tough to sample; they don’t carry unusual titles in the “graphic novels” section of Barnes and Noble, just the major publishers, and only the major titles from them.

Ah well. When the comic book publishers (and the music and film industry, and regular book publishers) finally get it through their heads that a copyrighted work that’s completely unavailable makes them no money at all, maybe I’ll be able to read some of this older stuff. If DC offered Kamandi for download, for instance, and I downloaded the first issue for $1 from them, and I was (literally) the only person on Earth to do so, guess what? That’s $1 more than they made off the series otherwise. There might not be enough people interested in a title to actually publish it, but storage space on a server is a negligible cost, and there will be at least one person interested in everything that’s available.

He pushed the bounds of fair use (copyright and trademark) beyond accepted limited.

Expect someone to come along and buy the domain,name (which is actually very cool) and concept for legal purposes like what happened to Napster. :)

oh, perhaps this will motivate the publishers to set up something like this – a reading library with non-downloadable content – either avertiser supported (Like Hulu) or membership (Like netflix online streaming service – you can watch,but not download)

It’s the music industry all over again!

… You got to love the “publicly displayed without authorization” part. See, There was the loophole he didn’t cover in his “Library” analogy – A Library buys a book from a publisher/distriubtor and it’s “First Use Doctrine” – maining they can do anything with the physical copy – lone it,rent it,sell it, burn in (God forbid) but not “Copy it”.

The books on html were copies of physical books – and violated first-use doctine

Sandinista-
Your public library bought that copy, and at 3 weeks per loan, can circulate it about 17 or so times a year. HTMLComics can make an unauthroized copy of a comic, and circulate it an infinite number of times every day. It’s not really the same thing. By using a poorly worded definition of libraries to defend their practices, they make libraries look bad, and fool naive fans like you who don’t know any better.

They’re the criminals- ripping off publishers big and small [small pubs probably couldn't afford legal action, so I'm guessing they appreciate the help in neutering these sites], ripping off hardworking creators [Vertigo, Dark Horse, Wildstorm, and United Features all publish creator owned material, as does Marvel in smaller amounts], ripping off well-meaning, naive fans, indulging the egos of fans who get off being pirates, and creating a toxic atmosphere for honest fans who buy their books who speak out about these issues

I think there should be digital comics, but only with the support and authorization of artists and publishers. Otherwise it’s unfair competition, and someone making tons of money off of ignorant fans while not having to pay any creators a dime.

The library comparison just doesn’t hold water.

Why aren’t “E-books” distributed for free, under the auspices of a library?

A library has to come into legal ownership of its inventory: buying books, taking donations, etc.

They are limited to lend out what they have in stock.

They have to keep a membership file and track usage of the library.

So basically, html comics did not do the 3 things essential to be a library… nice try though!

Re: 1.6 million visitors

They must be counting page views. Each comic is 22 pages, so at most that is 73,000 visitors… and that is assuming each visitor only read ONE comic… in reality, most visitors probably read many more.

25.000 or less unique uses per day…. at most.

Dan- probably right about that.

http://www.alexa.com/siteinfo/htmlcomics.com Here’s their Alexa info- for those who say it’s only people overseas who use this service, the 48% US thing kind of blows that apart. Add Canada and the UK, and the majority of the site is from countries with easy access to all english language comics.

i don’t know what is more frustrating….
the guy who did this, or the people who don’t think its wrong.

The copyright holders ought to be given the files with their material on it. Then they can make some of it available themselves how ever they choose, free or as a paid download.

the Erik Larsen thing is too much for me!

He was the publisher of Image. He is a founder.

The Image Company was founded for “creator’s rights.”

Yet, Erik still thinks it was cool to have his stuff removed, and then tell his fans on his website about the site.

Wonder why Image wasn’t part of this consortium of publishers??

maybe because while all the other publishers were joining up to fight this site, one of image’s founders was telling people to use it? (after his material was removed, of course.)

“oh, perhaps this will motivate the publishers to set up something like this – a reading library with non-downloadable content – either avertiser supported (Like Hulu) or membership (Like netflix online streaming service – you can watch,but not download)”

Herb, it’s called Marvel Digital Comics. There are quite a few holes in the collection, but they’re adding content daily. It’s not that expensive, doesn’t require downloading, and the artwork looks better than any scanned copies I’ve seen. Marvel even has some Golden Age issues you can view.

Hopefully DC will develop something similar. I’m dying to read some 1940s Batman.

For everyone wondering when Marvel and DC are going to start putting their older, out-of-print material on line like this, the answer is probably never. both companies have extremely robust reprint lines (Masterworks, Archives, Essentials, etc), and just because your favorite series from days gone by hasn’t appeared yet, that doesn’t mean it’s not on some publication schedule somewhere for some point in the future.

With that being said, why is it unreasonable that these publishers would not want this material given away for free by an infringing third party?

The big question in my mind is just what kind of sentence this clown is going to get. If the courts consider each page, or even each issue, as a separate violation, he could be looking at going away for a very, very long time.

“Library.” Hah.

I think the real news story here is that DC found out that some people put old comics online.

Now we’ll just have to wait another ten years before it dawns on them that it might be a good idea to do it themselves.

Later though, Erik Larsen said he regretted taken Dragon off the site, once he learned what a cool site it was. I haven’t been on it. But it’s sites like this that will make legal sites possible. Hopefully Marvel will come to their senses and only charge a dollar for online comics. The overhead is so much less than a printed comic. Anything else would be a rip.

Everyone who claims to have bought most of their comics after “sampling” them, for free on this site, needs to be a little more forthcoming. Why don’t you tell us about all the comics you read for free that you didn’t buy? Maybe you didn’t pay because “they weren’t good enough”, or maybe you just “haven’t gotten around to it”? Maybe you’ll buy the best stuff, and just read the okay stuff? And for the bad stuff you didn’t buy, I’m guessing the money you saved from those bad purchases justifies creating hits (and generating money) for a site with thousands of other users WITH NO INTENTION OF PAYING AT ALL…

But you can’t control those other users, right? So I guess that isn’t your problem. You guys are so full of it, it’s backed up and now it’s coming out of your mouths. You used the site for your own benefit, period. It’s so amazing that you actually have the nerve to boo-hoo and cry that you’ll buy less books now. Here’s a quick, simple math lesson: If you read $80.00 worth of books a month, and you’re purchasing $30.00, you’re stealing fifty bucks worth of material, and part of that money would have gone to the creators. Congratulations.

Y’know, for some odd reason, I think the industry can deal with you buying less….

These companies constantly show preview pages of upcoming comics on websites like CBR. If that isn’t good enough, that’s too bad. The rest of the paying customers, like me, learn to take the lumps of a few bad buys, sell what we can on ebay, and avoid certain creators in the future. You can do that too. The iPad is out, and more comics are soon to be available for LEGAL viewing, and downloading, than ever before. As far as Miracleman and Kamandi? Guess what? You can learn to live without it.

Brats.

Daniel Truong

May 5, 2010 at 10:33 pm

Did anybody on here note that Marvel already has an outlet for digital comics? It’s subscription based but also has a variety of free issues that change week to week. The collections aren’t complete, but if I recall correctly, they started it to see if there was a viable market for this kind of thing. All of you clamoring for a system like that should head on over there and check it out! http://marvel.com/digitalcomics/free

endcopyrightnow

May 5, 2010 at 10:39 pm

you people who support the closure of this site are morons, you see the only thing that truly matters is yourself, your own self enjoyment. People ask ” BUT THE THE CREATORS WHO WORK SO HARD” well you know what I DON’T GIVE A DAMN. They are not me therefore they do not exist. And besides as many have said there are thousands of comics that have never been collected and are nearly impossible to find these days, and yes some people do buy the stuff they downloaded and liked. Am I selfish yes but I don’t care.

Open Source forever.

@ Twin Pistols: ….Just, no. Your argument assumes, first of all, that everyone saying they bought more books is lying. You don’t SAY it, but its there in the tone.

Second, why is it that they “stole” $80.00 but only bought $30.00? Why couldn’t they have bought the majority?

Third, and here’s where your argument REALLY falls apart: You say its money taken out of the mouths of creators, when the truth is…if they hadn’t read the books first, most likely they wouldn’t have bought ANY of them. So even if a person buys ALL of what they read illegally, if they couldn’t have read it first, they wouldn’t have bought ANY.

Being anti-piracy is fine and all, but when people try coming up with counter arguments for pirate’s explanations, they’re always TERRIBLE. The best defense you have is, “Its illegal.” Other than that, there’s always some excuse as to how some OTHER way to see it for free is “different”. Bullshit.

While I honestly haven’t done it for couple of years(I hate reading from a screen for very long) I have read comics from various sites online in the past. Because of doing this I began picking up Invincible, The Boys, Green Lantern, Fantastic Four, and several other titles. I also went back and bought the trades for the issues I had missed. Like many others have expressed I am very apprehensive about trying new books because of the ever increasing cost. My monthly collecting went from 50+ books per month just a little over a decade ago to less than 20 now. The sad part is my income has increased and still I just can’t justify spending more money on fewer books. I’ve done like most and started waiting for trades.
While I don’t condone downloading the issues, I agree with the the Library comparison used in an earlier post. I don’t see the harm in posting older issues online for viewing only. I’ve been waiting for the Showcase presents that covers the Justice League, Legion of Superheroes, and Green Lantern issues from around 1979 through 1985. I can’t find them in back issue bins, as a lot of comic shops seem to be doing away with them and they aren’t collected in affordable trades as far as I know.
I’d love to be able to read them online at my leisure until they are collected. Which is why I agree with the earlier post regarding the missed opportunity by the comics industry to turn this into something beneficial to everyone, such as a comics version of Napster.
It is sad that they can only work together when they are going after someone else.

@SageShini: You’re hilarious.

“Why couldn’t they have bought the majority?” They can…but that just means they steal less. That somehow makes it better? I don’t think so, bud.

And let’s make no mistake here, if you’re viewing content that was posted on a website illegally you are stealing. You are reading comics that should be paid for, and decent people DO pay for that privlege. Any excuses and weak justifications for using these sites, are indeed, bullshit.

If there are people that will stop reading comics altogether because they can’t get them free, that’s great. One, they don’t deserve to read ANY comics they aren’t willing to pay for, and two, they shouldn’t be allowed to aid sites that serve people who WON’T BUY, as long as they can get them for free.

Maybe those folks who do get hooked on the material will buy when the free option is taken away. That’ll more than make up for any money lost from some pissy brats that need to “sample” everything. Is that really hard to understand?

You should really think before countering with such a TERRIBLE argument. ;D

This is going to keep happening until the comics industry grows up and creates an online distribution model that doesn’t suck. Marvel Digital Comics is a farce. Terribly awkward user interface + major holes in the middle of story arcs = No money from me.

Maybe? Pfft. The basic state of a human being is “stingy bastard”. You’re trying to offer these bullshit “what if” scenarios where you’re right, but the truth is if you shut down all the free options…you’ll shake the people who don’t want to pay for anything…but you’ll also shake those guys who’s buying habits increased when they were allowed to check things out for free.

The same people who pirate now and NEVER buy anything are the same people who before the internet just borrowed the copies of people who DID buy things, or just went without. The only difference is that they’re borrowing/stealing/robbing some poor creator’s family/whatever exponentially more. But either way, should you shut down the free option, and the vast majority of them will just not bother.

But I guess people will feel better for stopping such a serious injustice. Yay?

Is htmlcomics.com doing something illegal? Most definitely yes, but so was interracial marriage.

@ jb: I just buy paper comics. Marvel’s digital service is awful. I’m not sure why I should have to be six months behind just ’cause they’re worried about the LCS. Good ones won’t ever go out of business ANYWAY because there are too many fans that will *never* buy any sort of digital comic.

Also, I don’t want to pay…whatever it is they charge for basically a rental service. I having stuff without paying a monthly fee, IOW, once I’ve paid for it its mine–so thanks DCBS.

@ Chris Jones: You heard it folks. That’s what you are if you don’t support copyright laws!

For the record, I think Endcopyrightnow made one of the most ignorant comments in this whole thread but…I also think *that* particular reaction is so far overboard that its just as terrible.

Oh, I’m not saying that to everyone who doesn’t support copyright laws, that was VERY specifically intended for that particular commenter.

Sorry for the mixup!

I never heard of this site until a few days ago.

Eh, my main resources are doing fine, so whatever, I guess.

I look forward to the day when so many excuses are made for theft of other things as are for intellectual property.

I create comics for Image, I have downloaded my own comics from torrents to see how they compare to the physical product. I can tell you right now that after putting a massive amount of time and energy into your passion and then to not only see it being given away online for FREE but for it to be from a crappy scan job that doesn’t represent the art the way it was intended, yeah, it’s theft a-hole. The big difference between comics and the music industry is that I don’t get to re-coup the loses of my physical product being given away by going on tour for a year. The part that really gets me is these scanning pricks actually sign their work at the end of the book with their oh so witty logos, as if they had some hand in the creative process? They spend fifteen minutes of their time scanning in a book (resulting in a massive drop in quality) and suddenly they deserve some credit for all their hard work? If I ever ran into one of these “scanners” I would beat the hell out of them until their “han shot first” t-shirt was drenched in blood, I’ll even autograph their forehead with a sharpie to let everyone know who’s work it was, I will however use my REAL name because I will be proud of my actions and not feel shamed by it (Get it? See, they don’t sign their real names cause they know what they’re doing is f*&king wrong! wink wink). Anyone who is defending piracy and putting up a “corporate greed” defense I would appreciate to know what day you get paid at your job, I would like to come down and take 40% of your pay check and see if that leaves a nice taste in your mouth or if you will look down on yourself as the greedy corporate whore that you are for wanting to earn money for the hard work that you’ve done. I hope I’m not coming off to aggressive and hostile, it’s obviously just my natural reaction to the totally justified and pure act of “sharing”

If you have read a scanned torrent book of mine, please come see me at a show and I will give you a copy for FREE just so you can read the book the way it was intended to be seen, just don’t try to justify your actions with a retarded argument why I’m not getting paid for it because you feel entitled to something that’s not yours, it’s not my fault your parents gave up on you after your dad pulled out

Glad to see the FBI was helping on this! Not like Terrorists are trying to blast people to shreds or anything like that.

I would request folks rationalizing their support of pirate sites, please read the link Brigid provided to Colleen Doran’s post. I’m not expecting it to change anyone’s mind, but I think it’s something to consider when you rationalize negatively impacting a creator’s ability to make his or her living.

Marvel and DC BOTH need to drop its prices. So do indies. The ad revenue alone in any Marvel and DC book is enough to pay for the creators and printing. Greed — sheer greed. And Diamond don’t help the cause either!
on the other hand – glad to see these pirates close — as it’s the struggling indies that are hit the hardest!

As long as comics are expensive, scans are the way to go.

The_Livewire

May 6, 2010 at 4:42 am

I’ll admit to having read some of the comics there. I found it interesting that the Tower of Bable TPB had panels that weren’t in the comic. (I already had Tower of Bable compilation)

As to Marvel’s 6 month lag… There’s a reason that RPG companies like Paizo and WotC and Catalyst charge full retail (or near it)… it’s to not upset their distributors. In Marvel’s case, if they’re just delaying six months, then it’s a good deal. In today’s market that seems to mean that the digital hits at the same time as the trades.

(just getting back into comics, will have to check Marvel out)

Oh well, back to waiting for the Avengers/invaders compilation.

comicsatemybrain

May 6, 2010 at 4:47 am

“The ad revenue alone in any Marvel and DC book is enough to pay for the creators and printing.”

Do you have actual numbers (instead of speculation) to prove this? Do you know the ad rates for Marvel and DC? Do you know their pay rates for their creators? And their printing bills?

All I see here, is how copyright law is still the most misunderstood concept to internet users.

The people who’ve closed down htmlcomics totally fart. They should get a life.

Is htmlcomics.com doing something illegal? Most definitely yes, but so was Lehman Brovers..

All I see here, on the other hand, is how entitlement is still the most understood concept to internet users.

I mean, Kamandi? Seriously? You’re telling the world that between at least two DC archives, countless back issues that any shop owner with a lick of sense would throw at you to get out of the store (I paid fifty cents apiece for most of mine) and eBay, you’re forced to download pirated copies to see whether you might enjoy it?

Wow. This sucks. I’ve never even heard of this site before and now it’s gone… sigh. I’m always late to the party.

“Is htmlcomics.com doing something illegal? Most definitely yes, but so was interracial marriage.”

You are insane. To make that comparison is ridiculous, disrespectful, and kind of pathetic. I don’t know why so many people feel that copyright law doesn’t matter, or don’t know what a library does, or think that they get to try out everything they want as long as they buy a book or two. You’re stealing!

I hope these publishers continue to work together to shut the rest of those sites down.

On a lighter note, that site should have been shut down based on their logo alone.

The queerest thing about these hotheaded dicsussions that revolve around digital piracy is that they are always, always, framed around the entitlements of the copyright holders and the well being of the artist/creator.

The thing is, in capatilism one party can only legitimately consider what they own valuable if other parties have no means of obtaining it without them. Someone can sell fruit to those who don’t have it just fine, but they have no business crying if a customer uses the seeds in the fruit in produce more fruit independently. Neither can they balk if what they own isn’t considered valuable to any other party in the first place.

In the case of art, literature, etc creators really just have to count themselves lucky that people want to legitimately buy what they produce at all. If people don’t value their work enough that they want to pay for it, they should support themselves with a real job and produce something people do value. Music and literature wasn’t always controlled under the auspices of copyirght and licensing. Copyright law was created in ORDER to criminalize third party reproduction in response to mechinical means making it easy for third parties to do so. It was a good system, made a lot of people rich, and I do not begrudge anyone for it. But we now live in an age of digital reproduction, it is not easy or practical for copyright to control distribution at all.

So, sorry to all the hardworking artists, but the only party from whom they are really entitled any compensation is the one that comissioned work from them(the publisher). Its not the fault of the public at large that their commision is tied to how many copies that publisher can sell.

I won’t try to defend the site or other illegal downloaders of comics. The problem though will continue and continue. There is definitely a nitch for digital comics that is not being represented and if it isn’t closed by legal means (publishers doing digital comics themselves) it will continue to be used by illegal means. I watched shows illegally all the time and now I use almost exclusively hulu. I watched movies illegally all the time until I had netflix that brought convenience to the movie rental market. Now of course hulu, itunes and netflix did not stop illegal downloading but it allowed those markets to profit in the 21 century and gave consumers a choice of a convenient easy to use legal route or the annoying difficult and illegal route and with each of these the public has spoken and those companies are a success.

While I have never gone to online sites to view free comics (I hate reading them onscreen), I think the main point being made is that there is a market demand for this kind of service- and if comics doesn’t get it together they will miss out on a great opportunity.

iTunes did it for music, and Hulu is doing it for television.. There are some interesting series I would have NEVER watched had it not been for the convenience of trying them out on HULU.

Comic companies should realize this kind of format could be a great way to attract new fans- especially for older content that has never been reprinted. Because at 4 and 5$ per issue, I do not buy comics on a whim. And honestly not too much at all because of the price.

It will be interesting to see how this plays out with providing comics online.

riq.

HMMMMMMMMMM.

People want to read comics, but don’t want to pay for them?

Aren’t these the same turds shop owners used to chase out of their store for reading books without buying any?

Come off it. If you want to play, you have to pay. Fair’s fair.

I love how people try to continuously justify theft.
“It should be digital so it’s convenient for me”
“If they’d (Mravel DC) would only make a collection of book x, then I wouldn’t have to download pirated comics”
“I’m the one guy who actually buys the comics I already downloaded, so it’s okay!”

all bullshit excuses, folks. It’s theft.
The Itunes/Hulu argument doesn’t hold either. It’s the companies and creators choice to make things downloadable. Not yours. The market just isn’t there for online comics. people want things for free, in spite of Itunes people still torrent movies and music. Because they would rather steal something if it saves them 9.99.

It’s going to be fun watching this guy crash and burn.

I hope they take everything he has.

Hey, if the comic companies are going to try to sell us the same comic in multiple formats… or putting comics in my collected edition that aren’t part of the normal story… or split a 12-issue arc into two TPBs… or create mind-numbing crossover events… or kill characters… all to make us buy more shit for more money, they are asking people to rip them off.

You can argue about the morality of it all day, but the publishers have to take personal responsibility for exploitation or they are going to get resentment. Resentment leads to alternative venues which leads to lower revenue streams. The same with the DVD companies who put non-skippable commercials at the beginning of DVDs we own. That’s disrespectful and people are going to pirate movies just to avoid it.

Case in point. DC makes take WAY too long to get you out the TPB you want in order to sell you a bunch of shit that you don’t:

Oct 2002 – Batman #608 begins the Hush storyarc
May 2003 – Batman: Hush Vol. 1 (hardcover)
Nov 2003 – Batman #619 ends the Hush storyarc
Jan 2004 – Vol. 2 (hardcover)
Aug 2004 – Vol. 1 (paperback)
Nov 2004 – Vol. 2 (paperback)
Oct 2005 – Absolute Batman: Hush
Aug 2009 – Batman: Hush (paperback) – complete

Jan 2006 – All-Star Superman #1 is released.
April 2007 – All-Star Superman Vol. 1 (hardcover)
Sep 2008 – All-Star Superman Vol. 1 (paperback)
Oct 2008 – All-Star Superman #12 (the final issue) is released.
Feb 2009 – All-Star Superman Vol. 2 (hardcover)
Feb 2010 – All-Star Superman Vol. 2 (paperback)
Oct 2010 – Absolute All-Star Superman

..

“They” don’t even KNOW the “good” sites to get digital comics.

If you OWN the book, the PHYSICAL BOOK, you SHOULD be able to OWN it in whatever format pleases you.

What the “comics consortium” doesn’t know is that MOST sites with comics are TINY and VERY HTF.

Very.

I WILL NEVER give money to a comic company again. Too many stories start strong and then piddle away before the sixth issue drops. Either that, or they try to push you to purchase 20-part, multiple title x-overs…20-parts with only SEVEN being vital to the story. How do I KNOW? Becasue when the TPBs come out NONE of those dubious tie-in issues are included.

Gimmicks and lies, $4.00 for 22 pages of decompresion? HA!!!

Bust down my door. I have NEARLY EVERY comic produced by Marvel and DC on DVDs. If they decide to SOMEDAY continue releasing DVD comis, I will buy them. The same way I bought the “official” digital DVDs. I tell you THIS: Minutemen scans are better than a multi-million dollar corporation work.

How does THAT happen?

I’ll tell you: lack of INTEREST on the part of the corporations. Now that “illegal” scans have DEVELOPED THE MARKET for the corporations NOW they want “control”.

Too late.

..

Chris Warner

May 6, 2010 at 8:50 am

Indeed, there are certainly cases where people who have read pirated books or listened to pirated music have gone out and bought physical copies of the material. Does it not also follow that there are those who, having read material for free have decided NOT to purchase books they might have otherwise? The difference is that people don’t go out of their way to tell you when they choose not to buy something, they just don’t buy it. And the critical point, good, bad, or indifferent to consumers, is that this is copyrighted material, owned by those who have the right to determine how that stuff is distributed. Period. I’m sure it’s a bummer for the neighborhood kids when they get busted for swimming in your pool when nobody’s around, and maybe it will actually decrease the neighbor kids interest in swimming, but whose pool is it?

So, I guess those that hate piracy and are calling it theft, hate the Public Library, and think it’s theft too? You can get all kinds of music to listen to, and not pay for at the Library. You can get comics to read too now and not pay for.

Kirth, your stance essentially boils down to, “I don’t like the way companies package, market, publish and price comics, so I’m going to violate their copyrights until they release the titles in a format I prefer”?

Dreighton: The library “argument” has already been addressed a few times.

DetectiveDupin

May 6, 2010 at 9:09 am

Anything that pirates media is bad for the industry. Maybe if the piracy wasn’t there, the prices wouldn’t be as high.

SageShini says: “The same people who pirate now and NEVER buy anything are the same people who before the internet just borrowed the copies of people who DID buy things, or just went without. The only difference is that they’re borrowing/stealing/robbing some poor creator’s family/whatever exponentially more. But either way, should you shut down the free option, and the vast majority of them will just not bother.”

The vast majority of them? I suppose you have numbers to back that up right? I think the very idea that publishers are benifiting by having someone else rip off their work, is hilarious.

Syd & Kith: You are justifying being thieves and idiots with an anti-corporation stance that’s pretty sad. I guess that justifies robbing the creators as well, huh? There is no justification, or reaon for thieving work, you’re just trying to defend yourselves. So you resent the publishers…should the creators resent you for stealing the food out of their mouths? I hope the creators themselves do bust down your door. In fact, I hope you download a computer virus, and your hard drive melts.

The fact is, even if there was an affordable way to legally download ALL of your comics, in a format you would like, you would STEAL ANYWAY. If the publishers make comics exactly the way you want, with no tie-ins, events, or plotlines that “drop-off” and loose quality, you would steal anyway. You’re not going to pay 99 cents, 50 cents or a quarter. Stop acting like it’s Marvel and DC’s fault, you’re thieves…

That’s no one’s fault but your own.

I love pirate sites, this is the only way to strike back at overpriced books. Plus the companies are being conscientious about their pockets because of the economy, hence higher priced books, so they should understand if the consumers choose to do the same. I gotta say the only times I took breaks from reading comicbooks was because of lack of money so htmlcomics and sites like it are a godsend to us poorer people. Sandinista you’re a badass.

Funny, I didn’t try to justify piracy. I know it’s wrong. I did it sparingly, only with very old comics I have little or no chance of ever finding. (And I probably didn’t use the best example above with Kamandi, but it’s tough for me, living an hour from a comic shop and over two hours from a comic shop that has any back issues from before 1997, to keep up with what’s hot on the back issue market.)

My point, whether it’s right or wrong, the policies of the publishers have brought this about, and it will continue. I don’t see any way to defend piracy of anything that’s readily available. However, the major publishers are sitting on literally thousands of comics that they have never made available beyond the first release, often decades ago. People want to read them. A lot of people may not realize they want to read some older titles, but as they are mentioned by better-read columnists and commenters on various online sites, they’ll want to check them out. If the companies keep them totally unavailable, and back issues aren’t accessible, more and more people will turn to pirated comics. HTMLComics may be out, but something will show up soon to take its place.

Can you imagine if a minor work by a major, popular author (something like Player Piano by Kurt Vonnegut, for example) simply were unavailable entirely for ages, and the only way to read it would be to track down a very expensive first edition (the price difference, by the way, doesn’t go to the publisher or the creator)? It would be pirated. That’s why books like that are reprinted often. Comic books as a medium are still stuck in the outdated modes of thinking that comics are either disposable or collectible. Relatively few stories are kept available, and they’re mostly the recent ones.

The publishers have kept piracy of newer issues from cutting into their bottom line with this move. But this doesn’t do much good for anyone in terms of the older stories. They’re unavailable again, and the publishers aren’t going to get more money from them. If they’re smart, the publishers involved will agree on a year (maybe 25 years ago), remove every comic published since that time from the site, remove any issue available in a current or forthcoming reprint collection, tighten the copy protection, and re-launch the site as a pay service. It could even get more people reading the newer titles if they were to do so, simply by allowing them exposure to different characters and titles they’ve never read. But I don’t see it happening.

I wish Marvel Digital Comics was only 6 months behind. I’m still waiting for Secret Invasion #5!

Ahh the classic conundrum.

Do I steal by downloading or do I allow myself to be robbed by the greedy corporations?

6 of 1 and a half dozen of another.

$3.99 books and out of print items make me less sympathetic to the corporations. Just grabbing everything for the sake of downloading make me less sympathetic to the downloaders.

@ Guy Fumetti:

This isn’t rocket science. Of COURSE there are people who have no intention of paying for anything, ever. Just because iTunes and Hulu don’t wipe out music and television piracy 100% doesn’t mean they aren’t successful, and that’s an unfair bar of success you’re setting for them.

If you don’t like piracy, that’s fine. The law IS on your side. But this assumption that, if you wiped out piracy, sales will skyrocket is RIDICULOUS.

Equally ridiculous, by the way, is the idea that digital comics aren’t profitable at *all*. I’m really tired of this one–no one’s actually TRIED a decent business model yet. Other than Longbox, which I liked but DC and Marvel won’t go for them.

Also.

@ Kevin Melrose: I missed the library argument being addressed. Where was that? More to the point–if it was addressed in any other manner other than, “Libraries are legal.”, there’s a hole a mile wide in it. Sorry.

Again, the fact that a book can come out one week with a cover price of $3.99, and the very next week could be sold for $50 at the same shop is absurd..And whose seeing the money from that mark-up?…The so-called defenseless LCS..How is that not stealing?

This happened to me with Wolverine Origin #1…If a product can be sold for any amount, why can it not be free? The company already got the money from said product…

Also, Wolverine: Origins had over 1 hundred downloads prior to release, yet made the most money ever for a May opening weekend…It sure didn’t seem to effect it’s profit…

@ Paul: I hate that argument. Granted, its no more insensitive than the response of anti-piracy people to people saying, “I download comics ’cause I’m broke” being “Get a job!” or “Get a better job!” or “Work harder!”.

Still, your argument IS why capitalism doesn’t work without laws in place to control HOW it works. >_<

SageShini: The “library argument” was addressed in a couple of places, once briefly by me.

There isn’t a parallel between public libraries and HTMLcomics and file-sharing sites in large part because libraries aren’t making copies of the books they lend, therefore they aren’t violating copyright: A physical copy of the title is purchased, or donated, to the library, and borrowed by a patron, who returns it after a prescribed time so that another patron may enjoy it, and so on until that physical copy is worn out by repeated use. At no point in that process does the library reproduce the work (through scanning and uploading, photocopying, etc.).

EDITED TO ADD: Further (or perhaps foremost?), Section 109 of U.S. copyright law allows anyone to resell, lend or donate a copy of, say, a graphic novel that they’ve purchased — it’s a foundation on which public libraries and their lending practices are built — but nowhere does the law permit the reproduction and distribution of copyrighted material for the sake of economy, convenience or a desire to stick it to publishers.

Here’s a radical thought: if you think that comics are overpriced and publishers are the spawn of Satan, then DON’T BUY COMICS! Vote with your wallet! That’s a message publishers will hear, and listen to, and understand. But this constant whining about, “I download comics because they’re too expensive but I want to read them anyway” is childish, the infantile ravings of fan boys with no sense of moral responsibility.

Piracy is wrong because piracy is theft. You stealing these comics without paying for them is no different than someone stealing your laptop or your car. Property is property, and no amount of justification by a bunch of uneducated kids who don’t have the first idea about copyright law is going to change that.

Copyright law was put in place for a reason: to compensate creators for their work, and to protect them from those who would unlawfully appropriate their creations. If you’ve downloaded comics you haven’t paid for, you’ve broken the law. Period. No amount of whiny, fanboyish justification will change that. Just like you can’t go into an Apple store and walk out with an iPad without paying for it on the grounds that, “I buy plenty of Apple products, and besides, it’s too expensive but I want one anyway,” you can’t steal someone else’s intellectual property.

It’s disturbing how many people in this thread feel the need to justify their illegal actions, and seem proud to do so. Are you the same people that were up in arms about “creator’s rights” when marvel withheld artwork from jack Kirby, or when DC and the families of Siegel and Shuster were litigating rights for Superman? If so, I guess that when it comes to what you want, those same creators be damned, right?

And don’t hide behind the “library” example, either. That was a weak attempt by a moron to justify his massive copyright violations. Kevin Melrose is exactly right when he explains the reason that libraries are legal and this HTML Comics nutcase is dead wrong.

Again, go to the website of the World Intellectual Property Organization (www.wipo.int) – you have plenty of time now that you’re not reading illegally downloaded comics, right? – and educate yourselves on the basics of copyright law. Then come back and join the discussion with an informed opinion, rather than a whiny, childish rant.

Pirate sites are like Hydra. Kill one, two will take its place. Unless the government decides to take our civil liberties on the internet, there will always be pirates.

Honestly, if your not going to buy something, your not going to buy it. If you are going to buy something, you probably will.

Honestly I would never pirate a creator owned book, but I’m sure Disney is not going to crumble as a corporation if I download a marvel comic.

old series I bought after reading a pirated issue 1
Transmetropolitan
Watchmen
Preacher
Lucifer
Y the last man
Powers
Ex Machina
Scalped
House of Mystery
Green Lantern
Green Lantern Corps
Batman
Superman
Wonder Woman
Teen Titans
I could continue listing more I have bought too.

I make $2400 a month after the taxman takes his 30 plus percent and I spend on average about $100 a week on comics and am constantly looking for more trade to buy. To find out if something is worth buying I read the first one or two issues if I like it I go out and buy it if I don’t I will not buy it and will not download any more. I have lists on my computer hundred of titles long that I want to check out. And if a title is completely out of print and unavailable in back issue bins fuck em I will gladly steal it. There are hundreds of sites out there and the loss of one is no big deal there are sites you can go to to get your comics, movie, tv and music desires satisfied for a good old fashioned $0. there is my opinion don’t like it too fuckin bad

@Devyn:

So, in the childish, self-centered, and shallow world in which you live, it would be wrong to rob a local savings and loan, but perfectly all right to hold up a Wells Fargo or Chase bank, as they have plenty of money and certainly won’t “crumble as a corporation” because you personally decided that you needed that money more than the people to whom it rightfully belonged?

How wonderful for you that you’d never pirate a creator owned book. You do realize that creators for Marvel and DC depend on sales as well in order to receive compensation for their efforts. It’s called royalties, and its based on actual sales. When thieves like you illegally download material, you reduce sales of a book and therefore take money out of the creator’s pockets. But you get your free comics, so that’s all that’s important, right?

Just admit you’re a thief and move on.

Tyler Durdan

May 6, 2010 at 8:00 pm

Let’s face it: Unlike physical property, intellectual property is not scarce and is legal fiction created by the government, by companies who want maximum profit and by creators who want near-perpetual benefit from a single work.

I am amazed at all the people that said they read something there are then bought the trade. I am sure that none of you are blatant thieves like “Dan L-Pgh” who read the stuff for free because you are too cheap or do not care. Keep stealing the stuff then do not get surprised when all books are $3.99 or more.

…Yeah, that’s the same old bullshit excuse the software designers use to “justify” the extortion rates they charge for apps like Photoshop, 3D Studio and AutoCAD. The truth is that where losses to piracy are concerned, the “damages” are always inflated anywhere from 20x to 30x just to make it look like they’re really being driven to bankruptcy, when all along if piracy could be instantly and totally stopped, the producers wouldn’t get 5% of those who pirate to cough up one thin dime.

The first EIC who claims that piracy is responsible for comics costing more than $1.50 USD needs to have their balls kicked up between their shoulderblades for being a complete and utter liar.

@Tyler Durdan: Who said Intellectual property law is based on scarcity? It’s based on the implicit rights of a creator to control his or her creation, at least fora set period of time. The law is designed to compensate creators, and therefore to encourage them to create more. If you take away the profit motive from artistic creation, who’s going to create? Believe me, it’s not fun being a starving artist.

Intellectual property is not a legal fiction. It is a legal acknowledgment of the fact that creators – like writers, for example – produce ideas that are then set in a tangible form. They have a right to profit from this work, in the same way that someone who produces physical property has a right to profit. Sure, companies want maximum profit. What’s wrong with that? They’re in business to make money; would you deny them their success?

I’ll tell you what: you work hard and create something that people want, and then come back and have this argument. I can pretty much guarantee that when it’s money coming out of your own pocket, you’ll sing a different tune.

While I understand why the comic companies wanted this site shut down I think they are being stupid if they don’t realize that they could make a lot of money off a site like this. It doesn’t have to be the Itunes model but it could be similar. For say $10.00 a month a subscriber is free to read the ENTIRE Marvel or DC or whatever back catalog. Keep the new comics off for a year but give the readers access to everything and make sure your site actually stays current and updated.

Could this hurt sales of print books in the long run? Possibly but I don’t see that it would anymore than jacking the price up to $3.99. I can afford $3.99 as I’m an adult with a comfortable adult income but its the principle of the matter. I just can no longer justify spending that much money on a book that will give me 5 minutes of entertainment. But I’d drop $10 or $20 a month easy on a subscription basis where I could read all the old stuff that came out before I was around or that I missed and cannot read now because its not available.

Tyler Durdan

May 6, 2010 at 8:51 pm

@John: In the laws of economics, which all businesses adhere to, everything is based on scarcity and intellectual property is not by any means scarce.

@Tyler Durdan: I’m sorry Tyler, that’s just not true in the real world. While scarcity is one measure of value, desirability is another. There’s no shortage of diamonds in the world, for example. Their value is based on their desirability.

If you want to argue scarcity however, there is only one Harry Potter, for example, and J.K. Rowling owns him. Harry Potter, Hogwarts, and that entire universe is her property and hers alone. Therefore, i suppose Harry Potter could be said to be “scarce” from that perspective. No matter how many Harry Potter books are published, the property itself is one of a kind and belongs to Rowling.

“If you want to argue scarcity however, there is only one Harry Potter, for example, and J.K. Rowling owns him. Harry Potter, Hogwarts, and that entire universe is her property and hers alone. Therefore, i suppose Harry Potter could be said to be “scarce” from that perspective. No matter how many Harry Potter books are published, the property itself is one of a kind and belongs to Rowling.”

That’s the magic of intellectual property. In your example, Harry Potter becomes “scarce” only due to J. K. Rowling’s “ownership” of the property. Could you imagine a world where copyright laws existed before things like Newtonian physics, Shakespearean works and the Bible were created?

This whole conversation is insane. Digital distribution needs to happen… legally. But it’s impossible to stop… illegally.

Getting something for free that other people pay for is immoral, but plenty of people are giving their work away for free because they want you to see it. I am. Thousands of webcomics and blogs arrive in people’s web browsers everyday for free (and some of those creators are getting compensated in ad revenue and the selling of ancillary merchandise, but most of them aren’t).

I want to get paid to make comics someday, but right now I consider myself lucky just to have some people read the stuff I put online for free.

I’ve already said just about all I can stand to on the subject as I already wrote a three-article series about digital comics on The Long and Shortbox Of It. Check it out of you’re interested.
Part 1 – http://longandshortboxofit.blogspot.com/2010/04/digital-comics-part-1-people-make.html
Part 2 – http://longandshortboxofit.blogspot.com/2010/04/digital-comics-part-2-death-of-great.html
Part 3 – http://longandshortboxofit.blogspot.com/2010/04/digital-comics-part-3-threat-or-menace.html

Colleen Doran

May 7, 2010 at 4:40 am

Considering that the Bible was a collection of letters and old documents compiled hundreds of years after the original works were created, your reasoning is specious at best. Even under current copyright law, all rights to the material would have fallen into the public domain.

Shakespeare and Newton might have made more money, would have been the result of actually having copyrights to their work. Copyright was enacted during Newton’s lifetime, in part, to make sure that people like Newton could make money from their efforts. Books were especially pricey at a time when they were hard to make, and few authors made very much money from sales, in part, because anyone who had the resources could print any book. But books were the province of the upper class, in part, due to cost.

Considering that no copyright law protects ideas themselves, I don’t know what idea you think might have been lost had Newton enjoyed his copyright protection. That would not have prevented other people discussing, disseminating, or expanding on his ideas. Copyright only protects the expression of an idea. Copyright protects the work of Einstein, but that does not prevent others from expanding on his Theory of Relativity.

And apparently, you do not seem to realize that even in Shakespeare’s day, playwrights were paid royalties. You also seem to be unaware that his great reputation wasn’t made until hundreds of years after his death. Theater was a disreputable profession. Shakespeare was not revered in his lifetime. So, once again, your point is lost.

Harry Potter is not scarce because JK Rowling “owns” him, Harry Potter is scarce because JK Rowling is the person who created him, spent many years writing those books, and came up with something that was so entertaining to so many people that it went beyond an initial print run of 1000 copies to become one of the best selling books of all time.

Since no one else in the history of publishing has been able to pull of what JK Rowling has, Harry Potter is scarce because there is only one JK Rowling.

Since you seem to think there is some sort of intrinsic value to Shakespeare and the Bible, those works have value because they are unique, because a book is not equal to a book. One piece or intellectual property is not the equivalent of another.

Using your logic, Shakespeare should have no value because intellectual property is common.

Intellectual property has value because there is and always will be only one Shakespeare. There is only one Rowling. There is only one Tolkien. There is only one Flaubert. There is only one Jack Kirby.

The entire Harry Potter universe is JK Rowling’s and hers alone, because no one else sat their ass down and wrote something as appealing and popular. It will always be JK Rowling’s. Even as there will always be only one Lord of the Rings, no matter how many goobers write elf fantasies.

All authors are not alike. All books are not alike. All intellectual property is not alike.

But all authors, regardless of their commercial or cultural value, deserve the protection of the law.

@SageShini

To be honest, i realize my argument is insensitive. I’m not out to spit in any creator’s face, but I don’t see any reason why I ought to, by default, be sensitive towards people who choose make a living by scribbling on paper rather than providing needed services or doing manual labor. If it were an artist complaining that their paintings or sculptures don’t sell, most people would be equally as insensitive and tell them to get a real job.

Furthermore, my argument is less about why captilism needs the laws to make it work, but more about the fact that commodifying art through a captalist system is only sustainable and controlable if the purveyors of such art can dupe people(mostly through litigation) into thinking their product holds the same kind of value to them as the shoes on their feet or the bread that they eat. But people have never valued art in the same way they value goods and services. They never will.

@Paul

75% (give or take a few procentages) of all services are completely unnecessary for mans survival.
Capitalism is based on the production of services and products, not “needed services and products”, and the fact that the people offering these, can charge a fee for providing them.

A capitalism based on you having to prove the immidiate usability of the service/product would crash dead in a week.

If everything was offered for free, nothing would cost anything, including ‘needed services and products’, and if pirating continues as it’s doing today, thats where we will end up.
People pay if there’s no other legal and/or relativly safe means to obtain it, regardless if you regard it as ‘needed’ or not.

In reverse, nobody will pay if they can obtain it for free legally or relativly safe from legal repercussions.

Can you see the flaw in your “logic”?
People don’t function like you propose, they are just cheap by nature, as a survival treat – no problems there – but if capitalism is to work, we need to counter that and make sure there’s a balance between the production and the consumption costwise.

Basically, if you can produce and charge for it, nobody else can give it away for free. It being ‘needed products or services’ or not.

You completely misunderstand me. I made no qualification that any thing or service not explicitly “needed” has should be offered for free. People can offer things people don’t need for a price and proft from it, theres nothing stopping them from doing it. However, no one is explicitly entitled to compensation to producing things that people don’t need or value enough to want to pay a price for them just by virtue of creating it. Reaping compensation from it relies heavily on whether anyone actually values what they produce, and their abiltity practically(not legally) control distribution or reproduction.

Sure the producer can certainly withhold their product for no one to have if no one will buy it. Thats their perogative. But if they’ve already distributed it and people have the means to reproduce and distribute it freely among themselves uncontroably, he’s SOL I’d guess.

Once upon a time, artist could only be compensated for their work either by commission or by teaching their art to others. Mechincal reproduction made gave art a means to be widely profitable. It was relatively controlable so copyright laws were enact to give that control legitimancy. But digital reproduction is profoundingly uncontrollable regardless of the laws eneacted, and its wresting this relatively new control away from the purveyors of popular art. That’s not a defense of pirates, thats just the truth.

Jim Kosmicki

May 7, 2010 at 8:13 am

Just want to point out that according to Amazon- both Kamandi hardcover volumes are sold out, so no publisher or creator makes any money from that product at this point. I would imagine that DC will put out Kamandi in volumes similar to their other 70′s Kirby work, but it would be nice if they could announce those plans as well. I loved Kamandi as a youngster and would be very happy to have Kirby’s run on my bookshelf.

Honestly, part of the problem is that unlike traditional book publishing, there’s no reversion rights in comics. We’re starting to see a bit of that with some of the series from Vertigo or Epic that had some creator ownership elements, but if DC doesn’t see fit to keep Brother Power the Geek in print for X number of years, then Joe Simon and the other creators should have the right to shop those publishing rights to others.

And yes, I understand that there’s work-for-hire and trademark issues involved. I’m just saying that the Vonnegut example up above doesn’t really fit because if the publisher doesn’t keep Player Piano in print, Vonnegut or his heirs only have to wait a short amount of time before it’s potentially back in play again.

Paul,
Let me guess, you have no creative bone in your body? Scribbling on paper rather than providing “needed services” or “manual labor”?

Art, the creation of it especially in the time sensitive confines of an industry such as comic books, is HARD WORK! It’s hardly “scribbling on paper” as you so ignorantly stated. People spend their time WORKING HARD on things that will entertain you and then you spit in their face for PROVIDING A SERVICE to you. And you do spit in their face by belittling their craft the way you do. I’m sorry that it’s not as physically necessary as shoes or food, but entertainment has great value to your mind. If you worked your ass off and expended your mental and physical energy to provide a service/goods to people, you would expect compensation for your efforts, wouldn’t you? Don’t lie. You’re not going to give it away for free.

Don’t appreciate art? Close your eyes. Don’t think the music you enjoy is worth your manual labor earned dollar? Cover your ears. You don’t deserve it.

Or better yet, tell your employer to pay you only enough so you can eat and have a place to live. Entertainment has no quantifiable value to you and thus is worthless.

It seems odd to me in a discussion about piracy the topic of whether or not the alleged pirates made money out of the goodness of their hearts has come up. I admit my ignorance as to the site’s existence before reading about it now, and have read the defenses put up for the site. And I agree that the service that was provided is a key one, and one that is underutilized by the large companies, though digital libraries at companies like Marvel are getting better. But to say that what these people did was right because the customer doesn’t have to pay is to ignore whether or not the site made money through advertising or similar means. I find it hard to believe that the keepers of the site did all of what they did for free. Libraries are paid for by tax dollars, and I assume this site was paid for by advertising. And libraries, I believe, do have permission to rent books. So the question becomes is it right to make money off of someone else’s property without their permission. The government has come down on the no side.

But that said I find the largest problem being that such sites openly flaunt their illegality and refuse to try and work with the companies to meet the demands of the people. If a group offered some of the larger companies to digitize their back issues and make them available, though probably at a price to the public, what then? I fail to see why this all must be done covertly and illegally. Companies understand supply and demand. Make an appeal to their pockets, and perhaps some progress can be made. But threaten their property? That seems good for only causing more problems.

Starting about 4 years ago, I re-got into comics after not having read any for a long time. I racked up an incredible amount of gbs of scans which led to me spending hundreds of dollars on trades, because reading on a screen is only getting half the experience. Now that I am no longer a student and have a proper job, I spend about 30-40 dollars a week on the latest comics. And I am grateful for the scanners that put in so much of their free time to allow new and poor readers the opportunity to get into comics. These same people also spend time scanning and restoring brittle Golden Age comic books so that they can be preserved digitally for the future. Scanners aren’t ruining the comic industry, they’re saving it.

chris schmitt

May 7, 2010 at 12:10 pm

I hope that all the publishers took this code and will use it on there websites.
If marvel took all the comics he had on his site of theres and posted them on marvel comics unlimited i am sure a hell of alot more people would subscribe

Just felt I had to say something.

I think, its very easy to look at scans from a negative and legal angle, and sure, its questionable. What’s clear is that people do and will continue to consume comics this way. Laws are nice to have you sleep well at night, but with things like this, if you can’t supply the demand, how people want it, you need to adjust. The comics industry, who we all know have been holding us all to ransom (prices, returns etc) for some time now, has a choice, either adjust and embrace this new potential market, or choose the music industry route and fruitlessly fight a battle you can’t win.

Here’s a reality check, a lot of things in life are illegal (some justifiably so), but people will still indulge (weed, anal sex etc). Legal dancing is pointless when you are dealing with a global ballroom. Copyright laws are largely out of step with the realities of the net, IMO.

As a reader for many years, my tastes have leaned more towards japanese manga, many of which I buy and collect. Lots of these I sampled through scans early on. Seeking to broaden my horizons from eastern comics alone, three years ago, I delved back into U.S comics again, to hopefully find something more interesting beyond the usually superhero stuff, which beyond Batman, Spidey, I was weary of for a long time. I wanted to break that myth, that western comics were crap.

So what did I find? I looked outside of the caped spectrum, and discovered books with a message through the likes of DMZ, The Nightly News, and the awesomeness of The Walking Dead. As a result of sampling some scans, I eagerly ordered all of them, and still follow DMZ and TWD to this day. Some may call me a pirate or a thief, but what I really am (like many others) is a potential customer that’s lost interest and not being served, putting more time into games and other pursuits. Negative to positive.

Here’s my question, and please consider it carefully? Would the creators rather have me never know or sample their work or not? If the latter is not, you’ve just badly sold your product. If yes and I back up a scan with a sale, you’ve just made a sale and a fan, congrats. In a world where comics fandom is very insular, largely wanting to follow the same cliched comics, and not encourage others to join and expand their little club, new customers will eventually be needed. Just where are they going to come from? Hasn’t the shrinking comics industry wanted new consumers for years now? Wednesday Comics wasn’t just for show, was it? Is the industry open to new ideas or not? If my work appeared on these sites, it’d be okay to be upset, but looking at the bigger picture, someone else is interested in my work. Should I tell them not to read, with so much competition for their time and money (or the lack there of)? Best you can do, is encourage them to buy, or sample then buy. Getting legal does nothing but alienate people or make things worse, as music and film cases have proved.

Even with HTML gone, many new customers were born because of it, and similar sites, that the industry would not otherwise have, and that’s a good thing, whatever your stance. And any money earned by HTML would have gone into server costs, rather than his/her pocket, as these kinds of things are not done for profit, and judging by the material on HTML, the host was a comic fan. And if some view without buying, so be it, as there will always be such people, regardless of what’s on offer. Concentrate on those who want what you have, and want to pay.

There’s an chance here, for all the publishers to chip in and make something special online, I suggest they take its negative and mould it into something positive. Now, we’ll wait, probably ages for them to legally act. My hair is turning grey already.

I’ve used sites like HTML Comics before and the reason? Because a lot of the material I want to read is unavailable for purchase, either through the official digital download services offered by the publishers or through print.

If the publishers offered more out-of-print material online, I and many others wouldn’t resort to sites like HTML Comics. There’s more money to be made and why publishers don’t take advantage of it is absolutely mind-boggling.

@PC: So you’d be OK with someone stealing the Mona Lisa simply because it’s “not available for purchase?” What a stupid and self-serving live of reasoning. Why do you assume that you’re entitled to something just because you want it? Here’s a thought: perhaps you just can’t have everything you want.

Nothing you’ve said justifies theft. Not of a comic book, or a car, or a painting, or anything else. Publishers get to decide what they offer to the public; you aren’t justified in stealing it just because their business plan doesn’t exactly coincide with your infantile desires.

Has this country really turned into a bunch of whining, sniveling brats who can’t see past their own selfish desires? What a sad, sad turn of events when we justify theft for something this inconsequential. I can sort of see someone stealing food and saying they needed it or their kid would starve. As much as I love comics, they’re not on the same level and never will be. The bottom line is: either get it legally or pass on it. You’ll live either way.

Paul-
“To be honest, i realize my argument is insensitive. I’m not out to spit in any creator’s face, but I don’t see any reason why I ought to, by default, be sensitive towards people who choose make a living by scribbling on paper rather than providing needed services or doing manual labor. If it were an artist complaining that their paintings or sculptures don’t sell, most people would be equally as insensitive and tell them to get a real job”

as a creator I could give two dumps about your sensitivity towards me and I can only assume if that is how you truly feel, the majority of “scribblers” out there could care less if you’re reading their work . You clearly don’t appreciate the art form which raises the question of why on earth are you posting on a comic website? I don’t care that I’m not making a product that people “need” or that you don’t consider it to be hard work. You seem to continually omit the fact that people WANT the product though. If they want it, they should pay for it. it’s that simple. The fact that you are arguing against artists making money for the product that they create proves to me that you’ve never experienced actual hard work in your life and should not be commenting on what qualifies as such. You clearly are a little twat and feels the world owes you something.

And to anyone defending the person who stock piled all the comics on his website, how is he any better than Marvel or DC ( if your the kind of person who views corporations as big evil empires) , he aspired to become a major distributor of online comics and by doing so profit from it. He’s not a hero of any kind, he’s a thief with a retarded business model. I would assume that if you have taken his side on this matter that you have enjoyed many of the stolen comics that he had on his site and that you would have absorbed (even if by accident) the moral themes that constantly reoccur in the medium of most comic books and have some sense of right and wrong at this point to not rationalize theft. Perhaps the real criminal here is the school system that produced people with such poor reading retention. The unavailable for purchase argument is such bullshit as well, If Jim Lee decides he doesn’t want to sell certain pages of original art does that give you the right to break into his house and take it for yourself because you want it?
.

Justification, morals, entitlement etc doesn’t come into any of it, as much they are nice words. Those are things for the real physical world we live in. Ones and zeroes of online content, via fair or nefarious means is here and its not going to go away, just because some disagree. Shutting sites does nothing, and is tanamount to killing a star amongst billions of galaxies.

Publishers and creators have a choice to make. Continue to dictate from your high horse upon a mountain (legal eagle saber in hand), or you get down and dirty and meet people half way. Either way, the reality is the tsunami is rising, so its best to act and think fast, before it reaches your neck. I know one real reason why they won’t act is the usual loss of control, but again, which is a worse evil, some adjustment and growth in sales via online or less to none at all, enjoying the shrinking status quo.

Its not at all a hard choice to make, but its best to make a good valid choice, before possible effective choice is removed altogether. Perhaps now the comic industry will pull its finger out, as it knows very well, its been fleecing customers and retailers with raw deals for years. Poetic, karmatic justice, perhaps?

I wonder what happens when they shut down all the pirates and they STILL do not recover the “lost revenue” they fantasize that pirated comics creates.
Sure people have an unhealthy sense of entitlement about piracy, and absolutely it’s illegal, but this industry, just like the movie, music, television, and video game, is going to have a major awakening when people still refuse to buy their worthless, bloated, mundane, hackneyed, photocopied inane garbage they are starting to force down our throats.
What excuse then are they going to use to justify inflating their already overpriced products?
Hopefully this is all in preparation for them to claim their online rights, then create an affordable digital model that all of us can enjoy.
But I really doubt it.
Just like video games are pretty close to being priced at $100 a shot, comics’ll still hit $5 sooner rather than later, REGARDLESS of the piracy issue.
This just gives them an excuse to misdirect the public towards the visible bad guy so they can continue their money-hungry practices.

@John
So by your logic, I’m not allowed to have a scanned image of it on my computer, such as a .jpeg or .bmp?
Think before you speak.

Interesting that you bring up J.K. Rowling, because just like all the comic companies, she, too, refuses to sell her work digitally. Hence it also gets copied for free in the millions.

Pretty amazing to say earlier that there is no market for this, when just one of the countless places you can get them is serving a million people a day, or whatever.

@dcj667: The courts have ruled that having a digital backup copy of something that you’ve purchased legally is within the law. Distributing it to others, however, like HTML Comics did, is illegal. You can make a backup copy of a DVD or a CD or, presumably, a comic book and still be within the law, as long as it is for your personal use only.

BTW, I’m not arguing from “logic,” I’m arguing from an understanding of the actual law. Crack an actual book sometime; you might actually learn something.

Perhaps you’d like to do a little more research on actual copyright law before making such a stupid argument.

@Blue Tyson: Rowling is perfectly within her rights to refuse to sell her work digitally. Whether you think that’s a good decision or not is beside the point. As the creator of Harry Potter, she controls how that material is released to the public, and in what form. She can also, if she wishes, refuse to have her books translated into Icelandic (or any other language). That’s just one of the rights she is afforded by copyright law.

The fact that she refuses to provide her work in a digital format is no excuse for others to steal it and distribute it. That is blatantly against the law, no matter how many people think otherwise. Whether there is a market or not – and it remains to be seen if all these people who are helping themselves to illegally distributed works would actually pay for the privilege – the rights of creators must be respected.

Kid Cody
“Publishers and creators have a choice to make. Continue to dictate from your high horse upon a mountain (legal eagle saber in hand), or you get down and dirty and meet people half way. Either way, the reality is the tsunami is rising, so its best to act and think fast, before it reaches your neck. I know one real reason why they won’t act is the usual loss of control, but again, which is a worse evil, some adjustment and growth in sales via online or less to none at all, enjoying the shrinking status quo.”

I’m not exactly sure why a creator protecting their work places one on a “high horse” perhaps from your perspective everything and everyone seems larger than life though. The comic industry doesn’t have a choice to make, what your failing to see is that eventually the government will step in and place rules on the internet that are far stricter than anything we have seen so far. I’m not talking about a court order shutting down one site. You’ll get online one day and discover that your favorite theft sites are being restricted by your isp, and any other sites that are considered “not legal” as well. I view the internet right now as too much freedom for most people to handle and since people sadly can’t seem to control themselves, the government will do it for us. At that point you can bitch and moan that the government is an evil tyrant and they have no right to infringe on your online life, blah, blah, blah. When you abuse your rights, don’t be surprised when they’re taken from you.

Having read a few comics on an ipad I see a huge advantage to getting the digital product in peoples hands. However even if every book ever created was sold for 99 cents each, people would continue to steal them and rationalize why it’s okay for them to do it.

I am going to be very blunt when i say that all of you people are WRONG! Marvel has an online comic library, but you have to pay a monthly fee, like Netflix. I think it is good that people can still read things online, it is WAY more accesable than having the books with you at all times, so as long as they payed for it i am fine. Now if only DC could do the same thing…

@Ryan

Forgive me, I wasn’t going on an angry rage stretch with the ‘high horse’ bit, but things can get heated in here.

Things will continue to get sticky, and people have a lot of knowledge globally. Exactly how many years have certain media corps been chasing people for? All in all its pointless, because as they try to police the net, much of it will disappear underground, beneath much encryption and the tunnels of the tech savvy. There is no end game win, beyond a Skynet style shut down of the net (cue irony here).

Feel free to read my first post, which I felt put my view across a bit better, and more interesting.

@Cassandra

Correction, Marvel have a selection of online comics, and while a positive step,its by no means the rich achive of past greats that it should be. Kudos to those that use it, but I have little to no interest in Marvel product, personally. For those who desire old Marvel greats from 40 or 50 years ago, that’s little help. DC and others publishers should make a similar positive outlet move soon, but the longer they snooze, the more potenital custom they lose.

I note that Image wasn’t in this party seeking the HTML takedown, why was that? Kudos to Image, though, as offering samples first issues on their site was a awesome move. We need to see more of this too.

@kid cody

(Thanks for keeping a cool head, I’m not bitter or angry on my end and anything I’m saying should be taken in a calm context.)

You said it right there, UNDERGROUND. It’s never going to go away, but right now my grandmother could download a movie,comic, album without paying for it. I’ve met many people that couldn’t find out how much space is left on their hard drive, but they sure know how to use their bit-torrent client to get free shit. It’s gotten to the point where it is done with such ease that people don’t even consider it wrong. I think that the only solution right now is for the ipad to take off and other “readers” because after using it I believe that is the future of comics and it will bring a brand new generation of readers that will pay for the product if it’s kept at an affordable price. It also offers the chance for the first time ever for someone to read a comic in public without the “shame” factor. I just don’t think it’s right to steal the product just cause you can. Digital or not. If I applied the logic I’ve read from most of the pro-piracy advocates here I would have to assume that the majority of you are pro-rape as well. You see something that you can’t have so you take it. I’m sorry that Marvel and DC are wearing such short skirts and you can’t keep your hands off their product but that doesn’t make it right. I’m sorry Kid Cody but you talk about the “digital world” and how morals and justification are nice words for the physical world…? Tron and the matrix are not real buddy and we are not composed of 1′s and 0′s, I’m sorry. You control the actions of yourself and your physical presence is sitting in front of your very real computer monitor reading someones very REAL work for free. Maybe I’m wrong and my isp is not delivering the kick ass internet you seem to be enjoying in which case I apologize.

On one hand, I have no problem philosophically with pirating software, because I’m cheap. Not that I ever *would* of course. On the other, as a writer, I would like to get paid for my work. Am I a hypocrite? You betcha. But somehow I manage to live with myself. I never heard of this site before, but now that I know it’s possible, I’ll probably search for other similar sites.

And by the way–yeah, they weren’t a library. Libraries get government funding and use that to purchase material and make it available. But is there a site that is a true library for comic books? Or even a pay site? I would pay a monthly fee to go to a site and read all the older stuff–and even sample newer stuff. I’d like to be able to download it and look at it later. What else am I gonna do–print them out? Do know how expensive ink is? Hell no. At that point I would by the trade to add to my collection.
And therein does lie a keen difference in this medium: You can download a song and you have the mp3 file. You can download a book and you have the text. But do you have the album artwork? Do you have a physical book you can hold in your hands? The comparative worth of those are in the eye of the consumer, and more widely spread out. But for a comic book or graphic novel, the real paper and ink item that you hold in your hand is the only thing of lasting value. That is collectible. That has worth.
Think of it this way–what good is it to have all of your collectible baseball cards as scanned images?

A pay site would expand the audience of lesser known works, I believe. Especially if there was a showcase, and ads for publishers and artists, and reviews and forums where pissy little comic nerds discuss the relative merits of cup size versus super powers. Then they would go to a store and purchase them, or order online if they’re scared to leave their basement. Now that I think about it, there has to be one out there already, Where is it?

Another point, or a question:
A friend of mine buys comic books on a regular basis, but he isn’t a collector. He buys them, reads them, and then passes them off to me. For free. Is that illegal? Should I be paying someone because I received them? Sometimes I keep them, and sometimes I give them away when I’m done. Likewise with books. I’ve bought books and read them, and then given them away. Is that ripping off the publisher or the artist?
Do resale shops pay the publishers and artists? Should they? Where is the demarcation? Because it is electronic and can be copied? I give it to you, but I also still have it. I see. But I’ve already read it. Maybe I’ll read it again. A mystery isn’t a mystery if you’ve already read it. Or maybe I’ll listen to a song more than once. Should I pay every time I listen to it? A first run movie costs more to see. By the time it goes to the discount theater, and then DVD, and then the discount bin, it gets cheaper and cheaper. First run programming costs TV stations more than reruns in syndication. Unless it’s a classic, pieces go down in value over time. Am I wrong?
Maybe my first remarks were harsh, but I’ve accepted the fact that I’m a dick. But as for these points…I’d really like to know?

@Ryan

I feel that people don’t indulge in such means simply because they can as you say, but more so out of convenience, at other times having little to no alternative. iTunes for instance, was service born out of convenience, and is a great legal way to get media, where there was once none. It got out there first and thus Apple reaps the rewards.

I pose a question to you then, as simple as possible.

Seeing as a few sample scans, have got me to buy physical product, would you like me to continue buying physical product or not and just firebrand me instead? (Its a question the whole industry should also ask itself about a lot of people)

I’d prefer to be on the latter of the former side, but I want to hear your answer. Sure, scans might not be all right in the eyes of many, but they serve an entry drug purpose, where none is sometimes offered. For if a person is invested enough in a title, they will buy and invest in what grows on them, to have it near and appreciate more, on a shelf or coffee table, lend to friends and family etc. This has been my experience.

And if some just sample scans alone, my bet is that beause of the uncomfortable tiredness of eyes on a screen for long periods of time, sooner or later, they will stumble upon something, that makes them spend money for the easy, painless read of the physical product.

@Oldestgenexer

You make some very valid points, that get brushed over easily, but never answered in this kind of debate. They show where things can get flawed into very grey areas with copyright stuff.

You are a writer, and I’m an artist of sorts. I wouldn’t care about such details as free reading, as they are still reading, when they could be doing many other things (I’d find plagiarism a for worse worry). Encouragement to buy would previal, but if some don’t others will, as new people are born on planet earth every day, and beyond a zombie apocalypse, there will always be potenital customers to attract. How and where you go about attracting so is key to success.

One website to view many comics, past and present, from several publishers, for a possible fee, is the best way to go online, if you ever want to match or beat scans. Who will try to be the iTunes of comics first I wonder. The clock ticks.

Just as a point of clarification:

The points that Oldestgenxer makes about reselling or giving away or otherwise disposing of a piece of physical property aren’t gray areas of the law at all. A tenet of copyright law is the “First Sale” doctrine, in which a rights-holder may benefit from the first sale of a particular piece of physical property, in this case, a comic book. When you buy that initial copy, the rights-holder receives payment. Once that transaction has taken place, you are free to dispose of that particular copy in any way you see fit: you can give it away, resell it, burn it, keep it and read it again, eat it, line a birdcage with it, wrap fish in it, whatever. The rights-holder has already been paid for that particular copy under the “First Sale” doctrine. This is the principle under which libraries operate. What you cannot do is make copies of it and distribute the copies.

This is where HTML Comics ran afoul of the law. By posting scans on a publicly available website, they were, in effect, making unlimited copies and distributing them. By doing so, they were clearly infringing on the rights of the copyright holders of those books. Had they limited the material on their site to comics that have lapsed into the public domain, they would have been fine, but they didn’t.

That’s how the law works, like it or not. Too many people on this thread are arguing what they think the law SHOULD be rather than what it is. If you want to work to change copyright law, that’s great, but until then, you’re bound to respect and follow the law of the land.

Wasn’t my intention to get legal, which I why I don’t go there.

I ask you, who reads law books but lawyers. Never claimed to be blessed in that area, nor wish to be. When I said grey area (in last post), I meant more so in the minds of people in the street, who are not walking volumes of law.

Still waiting for Ryan to answer my question.

@Kid Cody

first- itunes was not created out of convenience, it was created to support the ipod. without devices like the ipod in the first place itunes would never have gotten to the levels of success that it is at now and was a major factor to popularity of the mp3.

now to your question- Piracy is convenience, I totally agree. It’s easier to download every book that came out that week in one torrent than actually spend money you worked for. It also happens to be such a simple act on the computer that it has become widely used by people with very limited computer knowledge. The comic market ran through many up ands downs well before piracy as we know it today and finds new ways to survive. You can’t say that piracy of comics was born because of the actions or inactions of the comic industry and is simple an expected reaction to the industries shortcomings. Don’t tell me that some kid who downloads a 311 album is doing so because Marvel isn’t satisfying his demand for silver age comics. It’s free, that’s the reason it is done 99 percent of the time. I value my fans and anyone who has bought my books even if they didn’t enjoy it and obviously I would love for my books to get into as many hands as possible. I got into preacher because a friend loaned me the first trade (which was not accessible to him while in my possession). I now of course own the entire collection in trade. My problem with your question is that it only includes a small portion of the scan community. Those that “preview” scans and then buy the product compared to those that read it and just continue to download more and more free comics is such a small minority and doesn’t justify the piracy community to me as a creator. I’m also looking further down the road, when ipad’s and ipad competitors are a common reading device. If you haven’t seen a comic on one yet, check one out and you’ll see that’s where we are headed. It is nothing like reading in front of the computer. When digital is the more common distribution method of comics and piracy is still going strong your argument would then have to be based on you wanting to fully preview the book before you decide to invest money in it to “own” it. Piracy is not a “gateway drug” as you say it is anymore than a snuff flick would be a gateway to someone’s interest into soft core porn, You have to go out and dig through the sticky unadvertised areas of the internet to get your hands on your free scans. You didn’t get into comics initially by reading scans, you got into scans because you read comics. The more this gets argued the less I want to go back to my desk and make the book I’m currently working on (which I’m taking a break from right now to respond about why you should pay for it if you want to read it, how fucking retarded has my job become today?). What’s the point of not being able to spend time with my family or friends if it doesn’t even put food on the table anymore because everyone is stealing my project? Your continued justification of why this piracy is okay in your mind is the very reason we all keep locks on the doors of our homes and businesses, your reasoning however is why I now think I need a gun as well because it is borderline insane . I’m getting tired now and I think I’m gonna head down to Starbucks and see if they’ll give me a grande frapachino, hopefully they’ll let me drink the whole thing down before I decide if I want to pay for it or not. Those corporate bastards at Starbucks should just be content with the fact that people want to even drink their coffee in the first place and be happy with that right? ;)

Thanks for replying, I’m sure you a busy enough. Paragraphs, man, please use them.

Firstly, I’m well aware of the rise of Ipod and iTunes together. I point to iTunes as an example of a much needed hub to obtain music, like comics should do. Originally, iTunes had its problems and wasn’t as open and user friendly at first, but with time, its presence and popularity, that changed. I had several mp3 players before I purchased an iPod, and with iTunes its easy to understand why its now the bar other similar services are measured at. Legal online necessity and convenience are the cornerstones of iTunes itself, beyond dumping stuff on an iPod, and other similar services that tried a similar thing have faded from view. iTunes is the model others seek to emulate

When I mention the comics industries past corporate crimes against the consumer and the retailer, I’m not saying that they are the cause of digital goings on, what I’m saying is that its somewhat poetic in a way (that might fuel that fire). However, fans will only laugh at that so much, as they stamp out the ashes of a Diamond logo flag, off to get the next story fix..

Fear of change is a scary thing, but such change is at times required or the result is you’ll be passed by. TV and movie studios feared VHS and fought against it, but it did not end them. The mp3 was in the same boat shortly after its creation and popularity, but it did not end music, and is a standard digital format for music etc. The Marvel Digital Comics model itself took a long time to get online (should have come online much earlier, say 2000, IMO), but at least they are showing some desire to adjust. Sooner others do the same the better, as its worse to be dragged kicking and screaming. Get that Hulu style model in action for comics.

I’m sure that another big fear is that of publishers becoming less relevant, as creators take more control of their works online (this would differ depending on the work I guess). But again, with the print industry already struggling, the dual formats of physical and online stuff, can potentially kill two birds with one stone, while expanding the market and attracting new customers. Don’t see how you can lose there, until it gets competitive.

Ipad will play its part and do well, but digressing a bit, my main concern with that and Apple is one of the censorship hurdle. Because of the lack of ratings on iTunes, its possible a lot of mature comics will not get on there. Perhaps like you say, when rival tablets come out and become affordable, maybe a break from Apple will then happen for some, and things may improve with that.

The real stickler is the concept of the presumed lost sale. Just how do you measure that and get it right beyond a doubt. When you buy a product, you get a receipt etc. When a scan is read, there’s a lesser exchange of such data, to be able to measure accurately what’s going on. If you look at something to buy, pick it up to purchase and change your mind, put it back and leave said store, just how do you measure that right? Your reasons for not buying could a hundred to one shot, and if piracy is one of them, what are the other 99? Because those in law do not largely know data, and vice versa, much can be made up and messed with to stay in line with an agenda. Its ironic that both will use cloak and dagger tactics to get their way, like some in media, but I’ll spare that tale for another day. I don’t want heads exploding with such thoughts, its already hurting mine.

I’m trying to see both sides, and probably failing, but its worth a try. And what to do about those who buy nothing at all? Converse and ask them why through surveys and research (inserted into Previews or MDC website perhaps, but why not go further than that, to games mags, movie dvds etc), engage with them and change them, gradually turning them into repenting customers. All that money spent on legal eagles could be saved, and pumped into creating 21st century comic fan communities, that rewards their fans for loyalty with deals etc (via a loyalty card system perhaps, you might find services like this, at video game stores, now imagine the same, accessible in EVERY comic store, as well as online, that way both physical and online sales can be tracked), while growing the market. You won’t convince all, but you will more than likely get some. DCBS is another cool discount option, but this idea I mention is certainly worth a try.

That’s all I have for now. I hope I’m not making you too mad with my view.

Ryan Bodenheim

May 10, 2010 at 7:39 pm

@kid cody
“Thanks for replying, I’m sure you a busy enough. Paragraphs, man, please use them.” irony at it’s best :p
I’m an artist, I have an excuse for my total lack of paragraphs and I talk really fucking fast so try to keep up :p

I don’t actually fear change in this case, I welcome it. I want digital comics, I want a consistent point of sale, and I want them all now on a platform similar to the ipad, I do share your concern with apple having that much control over content though. Didn’t we just get rid of the comic code? I find it odd that apple is okay with selling fifty cent albums but draws the line at nudity? Hopefully that won’t become too big of a concern though.

Not mad at all brother. if everbody saw things exactly the same this world would be a pretty fucking boring place

Totally unrelated, but Red Mass from Mars was awesome. The first couple of issues were cool.

Huh.

Glad to see that this conversation calmed down and got saner since I last looked at it.

This more specific worry about the controlling/curating of digital content is actually FAR more worrisome to me than the creators being compensated or the shrinking number of readers. Because if content becomes sanitized/infantilized (more than it already has by market demands!) both of those other very serious problems are going to worsen as a result.

Apple approves those ‘apps’ for the iPhone and iPad. I assume the same is done for individual comics available. If there is no place for violent/indecency/profanity as well as hopeful/cheery/clean material, expression is curtailed and everybody suffers. Sounds crazy, but it’s true.

Also, I find it shocking that no one has mentioned Longbox Digital, which probably stands the best shot at being that iTunes for comics:
http://longboxdigital.com/longbox-version-0.7-released.html
IF it gets in gear and makes a fully-functional polished version 1.0 before someone else beats them to it. (As you can see from the link, they’re only at version 0.7 and the platform was announced over a year ago…)

Longbox has a store function as well as a reader function. Could be the ticket.

Let me just start by saying: rest in peace htmlcomics.

Now…this whole thing was pointless. People that pay for their comics should continue to do so and people that don’t are not forced to do so, let’s not force our behavior unto others and start calling names. Therein the need to bash on the people who don’t pay for what they illegally consume is useless and a waste of time.

In short, you should all just mind your own business. Let us not pretend that we don’t know what is right and what is wrong, because truth be told, we all know that pirated stuff (music, movies, comics, whatever) is illegal…whatever good comes out of it (like people paying for the books after reading it for free) it is still illegal. I don’t need anyone to tell me that reading something for free online will benefit me and only me.

Whoever pays for the comics will always be called FOOL by the guy who reads it for free who will then be called a THIEF by the guy who pays for the comic books. That’s just how it is.

Yet living has never been only about doing what is legal, it’s about how we each get by. We each have decisions to make in life, but they are our decisions, we don’t need to explain them to strangers (’cause that’s what you all are) or try to justify them (because we have all been educated to know what’s right and wrong).

And don’t even start feeling good about each other, it’s true that the guy who pays is honest and will never go to jail and that the guy who gets it for free can probably get caught one day for whatever reason, but if we’ve got people who pay $100 per week on comics (damn I was amazed, I could live on that for 2 months in Namibia) then perhaps the guy who reads for free chooses to spend his $100 on charity or world hunger programs.

So again, you should all just mind your own business and do what you think is ok (whether it’s right or wrong). Rather than behave like children discussing pointless things.

Htmlcomics has been shut down, good for some and bad for some, it’s not the end of the world and if you feel so happy or sad that you feel the need to announce it to the world than you probably have nothing better to do, that’s the truth.

Um, right… so by the same token, people who pay for their bread will always be called fools by those who just steal it? Riiiiight.

(And yes, that makes me a hypocrite because I used and enjoyed htmlcomics as much as the next person.)

this site was legit he had a site explaining how it was legal. he caulnd’t have ads or take donations and stuff like that.

It wasn’t legitimate; his explanation was nonsense.

I never heard of htmlcomics before viz shut it down, so i’m probably the least bias person here, however i do have something to say to all the ‘commenters’ above me.

The idea that you can refer to what is legal and illegal as what is moral and immoral is actually a scary similarity to make, as that means you are treating the law not only as a moral compass but as a religion. The law is not always morally correct, or even represent society views, it simply reflects society needs. *point of fact, only 5 states of america allow gay partnerships* – is that morally right is whole another matter, but you can see which states put it as legal and illegal, but those of you who are claiming the law is moral may find your morals change state to state.

And just for those of you above, beside the fact it was illegal to COPY, it sounds to me htmlcomics did not intend to distribute,the fact people found workarounds is something else. Like taking a book from a library and then making photocopies. But the library itself is not responsible for anothers act.

And just for the record, comics and manga alike are both facing financial difficulty, so they are desperate. But one thing for certain, if they built sites like this one, then fans wouldn’t have too. The fact of the matter is they are reaping the benefits of a global recognition that was built by fans, that made other fans, who then made other fans. If they ever decided to publish digitally, or translate half as much as their fans did, or better yet actually finish publishing an entire series and not stop half way, none of these sites would exist.

On a final note and something to consider, as far as i can see the fans or site makers do not want to challenge the copyright or ownership of these comics, nor become its distributors. As soon as these companies publish or reprint other sites simply stop publishing. Many in fact encourage the buying of the original once licence in the reader’s own country. So maybe it is time that these companies allow for a little flexibility in copyright ownership and admit that no one is out to get them, but simply doing what they did not have the courage or organisational capacity to do, and that is build them a clientele and fanbase across the globe who does buy from them.

I can see all the points of each argument stated. I can even agree with most of them.
@ John: I understand where you are coming from and I know that pirating is wrong. However, there are just some people who can’t really afford to buy comics or manga, especially with financial issues worldwide right now. Don’t take my words the wrong way or get angry at what I say, but there are people who don’t have jobs or money to put out every time there is a new issue of said comic/manga that comes out. You should also understand that there are sites that are willing to remove content according to publishers and Licenser saying so. Take onemanga.com (One of my favorite scanlation sites to read up to date manga) for example. They would upload manga for readers to view for free. However, if they saw that the manga was licensed, they would remove the content and ask for the websites viewers to support their releases.

I know reading comics/manga isn’t a God given right. Then again, who ever said it really was? It’s just something we enjoy doing because it relaxes us, it entertains us, it take our minds off the troubles we have to deal with in reality. It offers us characters that we ourselves can probably relate to (not to sound like a nerd. Btw, nerds rule!) If it were up to me I’d personally would like to see the authors/publishers and owners of the website come into an agreement and put a subscription fee on the site (nothing too expensive though because that would scare people away. Something like $10/mo. I mean come on $10/mo for every comic/manga you want to read all in one place? I’d pay for it.) That’s just my take on it.

Old post yes but still makes me angry

I bought at least 200-300 books solely because of that site, money that went to MARVEL and D.C and every other flipping person there; the people at HTML didn’t get a cent out of it, not one. They made the companies a LOT OF MONEy

And I would not have bought them had I not been able to read a bit first online; its plain and simple. I’m not gonna gamble on something i have no idea what its like!!!!

So stupid companies and your lawyers, i’m never buying another book from any of you, i’ll pirate it forever so FUCK YOU

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