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Are Marvel bootlegs an inside job? [Updated]

Spot the differences to find the pirates!

It’s a well-known fact that you can get bootleg scans of every Marvel and DC Comics title by the afternoon of their release, but where do they come from? David Brothers and David Uzumeri did some sleuthing and speculating, and came up with a surprising answer: The Marvel scans are coming from an inside source, either someone who works for the House of Ideas or who works closely with the publisher.

While DC comics start popping up on bootleg sites one at a time on Wednesday afternoons, Marvel scans appear all at once before the digital release time of 2 p.m. ET. This suggests that while the DC titles may be from hackers who have figured out how to crack comiXology’s copy protection, the Marvel scans are from another source. Brothers goes over a number of other clues — the uniform size and quality of the Marvel scans, the placement of titles and credits, information that would only appear on a print comic, and some very telling errors — and concludes that “Someone’s got Marvel’s print-ready files before they’re finalized, and they’re slapping them up online as digital scans. Clever girl.”

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