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Comics A.M. | Spider-Man musical resumes, amid criticism, after fall

Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark

Broadway | The fall that seriously injured an actor Monday night in the musical Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark was the result of human error, the Actors’ Equity Association said. Christopher Tierney, the 31-year-old aerialist who doubles for Spider-Man and two villains, remains in serious but stable condition after the cable to his safety harnesses snapped, sending him tumbling as far as 30 feet into the orchestra pit. As we reported on Tuesday, today’s matinee has been canceled while the show enacts additional safety measures. However, tonight’s performance will go on as scheduled.

Amid criticism from Broadway actors and calls for the plug to be pulled on the $65-million production — Tierney is the fourth Spider-Man performer to be injured — director Julie Taymor issued a statement, calling the accident “heartbreaking”: “I am so thankful that Chris is going to be alright and is in great spirits. Nothing is more important than the safety of our Spider-Man family and we’ll continue to do everything in our power to protect the cast and crew.” Meanwhile, the New York Post — home to theater columnist Michael Riedel, who’s gleefully chronicled the musical’s many setbacks — quotes one unnamed investor as saying, “We should cut our losses and just get out,” while another worries about potential lawsuits. The Daily Beast provides a timeline of the delay-plagued production, while Mark Evanier offers commentary. [Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark]

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Comics A.M. | Another actor injured in Spider-Man musical mishap

Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark

Broadway | A fourth actor was injured Monday night during a performance of Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, the $65-million musical that’s been plagued by delays and technical mishaps. Aerialist Christopher Tierney, who serves as a stunt double for Spider-Man and the villains Meeks and Kraven, fell about 30 feet when the cable to his harness snapped during the closing minutes of the show. Some equipment reportedly dropped into the audience as well. The performance was put on hold and then canceled as an ambulance arrived at the Foxwoods Theatre to take Tierney to Bellevue Hospital. Tierney is in stable condition, but no further information has been released. [BroadwayWorld, The Associated Press, CNN]

Publishing | Fantagraphics has laid off Dirk Deppey,The Comics Journal‘s online editor, former managing editor, and longtime writer of the Journalista! blog. His final day is Wednesday: “No regrets: The last ten years have kicked ass. I’ve done great things and meet interesting people, and was paid it. How great is that?” [Twitter]

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Comics A.M. | Witness testifies in George case, publishers rebuke Apple

Legal

Legal | Michael Renaud, the only witness who can place retailer Michael George at his comic store around the time his first wife Barbara George was killed, testified Monday that a meeting with detectives shortly after the 1990 murder detailed in a recently published book did take place, despite its lack of mention in police files. Defense attorney Carl Marlinga questioned during the evidentiary hearing whether Renaud, who admitted to smoking marijuana, has a reliable memory of events. [Detroit Free Press]

Digital piracy | Four publishing groups in Japan, including the Digital Comic Association, is demanding that Apple stop selling pirated works of Japanese authors in its App Store. Apple says that it removes pirated material upon notification by the copyright holder. [The Wall Street Journal]

Publishing | Although a bill to further restrict the sale in metropolitan Tokyo of manga and anime depicting “extreme” sex won’t be voted on until Wednesday, some creators say the legislation has already had a chilling effect. For instance, one boys love artist contends her publisher is refusing to release works set in schools or featuring school uniforms. [Sankaku Complex]

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Comics A.M. | Pirate Bay convictions upheld, digital piracy debated

The Pirate Bay

Legal | A Swedish court last week upheld the copyright convictions of three founders of The Pirate Bay, billed as “the world’s most resilient bittorrent site.” Peter Sunde, Fredrik Neij, Carl Lundstrom and Gottfrid Svartholm Warg were convicted in April 2009 of copyright infringement, fined and sentenced to one year in prison. On Thursday the appeals court reduced the sentence to between four months and 10 months each for Sunde, Nij and Lundstrom while increasing the fine by about $2 million to $6.4 million. A decision regarding Warg’s appeal was postponed because of the defendant’s poor health. [CNET]

Legal | The Japan P.E.N. Club writers group and the Tokyo Bar Association last week announced their opposition to the Tokyo Metropolitan Government’s latest effort to tighten regulations on the sexual depictions of minors in manga, anime and video games. [Anime News Network]

Piracy | Johanna Draper Carlson and Tim Geiger wade into Colleen Doran’s recent argument against digital piracy. [Comics Worth Reading, Techdirt]

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Comics A.M. | Detective Comics auction, comics prices and anti-piracy bill

Detective Comics #27

Comics | A copy of Detective Comics #27 bought for 10 cents by Robert Irwin in 1939 sold at auction Thursday for $492,937. It’s not a record price for the first appearance of Batman — a CGC-graded 8.0 copy fetched more than $1 million in February — but the $400,000 that the 84-year-old Irwin will make after the commission fee is subtracted will more than pay off the mortgage on his home. [Sacramento Bee]

Digital piracy | The U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday unanimously approved a bill that would grant the Justice Department the right to shut down  a website with a court order “if copyright infringement is deemed ‘central to the activity’ of the site — regardless if the website has actually committed a crime.” In short, Wired’s Sam Gustin writes, the Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act “would allow the federal government to censor the internet without due process.” [Epicenter, AFP]

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Comics A.M. | Supermain lawsuit restarts, Hulk smash illegal immigration?

Superman

Legal | A federal judge has lifted the delay in the ferocious legal battle over the rights to Superman, allowing attorneys for Warner Bros. to proceed with deposition of the families of Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster. U.S. District Judge Otis D. Wright issued the stay last month while he considered an appeal on a procedural ruling, but on Tuesday he modified the order, permitting the studio to “proceed with full discovery of [heirs] Joanne Siegel, Laura Siegel Larson, Jean Peavy and Mark Peavy.” The depositions are expected to begin immediately. [THR, Esq.]

Retailing | Bookstores had their worst month of the year in September as sales slipped 7.7 percent, to $1.51 billion. [Publishers Weekly]

Piracy | Colleen Doran argues that it’s the middle-class artist, not the rich corporations, who are the real victims of digital piracy. [The Hill]

Crime | Houston police have arrested two people believed to be responsible for stealing thousands of dollars worth of comics from stores around the city. Bedrock City Comic Company was hit at least four times. [My Fox Houston]

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Comics A.M. | The comics Internet in two minutes

Nook Color

Digital publishing | As expected, Barnes & Noble on Tuesday unveiled its Nook Color e-book reader, priced at $249. The 7-inch LCD touch tablet runs on the Android 2.1 operating system, and offers web browsing, audio and video playback, and basic games (CNET notes that Barnes & Noble is pushing the device as a “reader’s tablet”). The device ships on Nov. 19. [CNET, Salon, paidContent]

Internet | PayPal has announced its much-anticipated micropayments system, with Facebook and a number of other websites lining up behind it. PayPal describes the new product, available later this year, as an “in-context, frictionless payment solution that lets consumers pay for digital goods and content in as little as two clicks, without ever having to leave a publisher’s game, news, music, video or media site.” Scott McCloud is quick out of the gate with reaction: “This is so close, in almost every respect, to what we were asking for over a decade ago, it’s almost eerie. They’re even using the same language to describe it.” [TechCrunch]

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Bootleg manga site goes back to its old ways

A screenshot of Manga Fox, showing a couple of familiar names

Remember when the manga scan site Manga Fox announced they would stop posting scans of licensed manga?

Well, that didn’t last long. Yup, those are links to the latest chapters of Naruto, One Piece, and Bleach, all licensed by Viz. There is one Yen Press manga on the site, Darren Shan (released in the U.S. as Cirque du Freak), but the more popular series Black Butler (Kuroshitsuji) and Pandora Hearts are still missing. I spotted some Tokyopop series as well: Maid Sama!, Deadman Wonderland, and Gakuen Alice are all up there and have been updated within the last month, and a number of other high-profile series, including Hetalia, Neko Ramen, and Hanako and the Terror of Allegory, are still posted but have not been updated recently.

Del Rey was not part of the publisher group that asked scan sites to remove their titles, and Manga Fox never took their series down. Consequently, the site is well stocked with manga that have been licensed in the U.S.

What’s more, they seem to be a little tired of vigilantes:

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4chan piracy causes spike in sales for Lieber and Parker’s Underground

Someone on 4chan scanned in all of Steve Lieber and Jeff Parker’s Underground and posted it for all to read. Rather than pitching a fit (which would have been perfectly justified under the circumstances), Lieber joined the discussion and cheerfully suggested folks kick in a few bucks if they like the book or maybe even, you know, buy it. Then he posted it on his own site for free. The picture above, taken from this post on his blog, concisely summarizes what happened next.

Why did it work out this way? Perhaps the comic is that good (I haven’t read it), perhaps because 4chan helped it find its audience, and perhaps because Lieber took some time to engage the readers and establish himself as a real person—it’s a lot harder to steal from someone you know.

He talks a bit more about it at Warren Ellis’s forum. (Found via Teleread.)

And remember, kids: Only Stephenie Meyer can defeat 4chan.

Comics A.M. | The comics Internet in two minutes

Piracy

Legal | A bill introduced this week in the U.S. Senate would allow the Justice Department to seek court orders against piracy websites located anywhere in the world. The bipartisan legislation, called the Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act, would permit the government to seek an injunction ordering a U.S. domain registrar or registry to stop resolving an infringing site’s domain names. That means a visitor attempting to access a targeted piracy site would instead get an error message. Domains outside of U.S. control could be blocked by Internet service providers upon a court order. [Threat Level, ICv2.com]

Business | Time Warner has extended the contract of Warner Bros. Chairman and CEO Barry Meyer through December 2013 as part of a management restructuring that sees WB President and COO Alan Horn shifting from his current position into a consultancy role in six months. And in a move that may look vaguely familiar to watchers of DC Entertainment, Warner Bros. executives Jeff Robinov, Bruce Rosenblum and Kevin Tsujihara will share as part of a new Office of the President that will report directly to Meyer beginning in April. DC Entertainment President Diane Nelson reports to Robinov, currently president of Warner Bros. Picture Group; it’s unknown whether that will change in the new structure. [The Hollywood Reporter]

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Comics A.M. | The comics Internet in two minutes

The Thing

Publishing | Marvel reportedly has issued a round of Digital Millennium Copyright Act notices to Google in an effort targeting Blogger sites that serve as clearinghouses for links to pirated comics. (Blogger was purchased by Google in 2003.) One such blog, Comics Invasion, already has been shut down. [Bleeding Cool]

Passings | Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial cartoonist Paul Conrad passed away Saturday of natural causes. He was 86.  The winner of three Pulitzers, an achievement matched by just two other cartoonists in the post-World War II era, Conrad worked for the Los Angeles Times for nearly 30 years, and earned a place on President Nixon’s infamous “enemies list.” [Los Angeles Times, Comic Riffs]

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Read Mark Waid’s controversial Harvey Awards keynote address

And BOOM! goes the dynamite: Writer/editor Mark Waid has posted his keynote address from last weekend’s Harvey Awards on the CBR mothership. Arguably the most talked-about such speech since Frank Miller ripped up an issue of Wizard, Waid’s address tackled the thorny issues of copyright law, public domain, and digital piracy.

To hear Waid tell it in his intro to the CBR post, a combination of nervousness and not hitting certain points hard and often enough led some in the audience — including Sergio Aragonés, who confronted Waid about it — to believe Waid was attacking the very notion of creator ownership of art and defending illegal downloads. In reality, the speech was not nearly as radical, and a great deal more interesting. The most thought-provoking part of it, to my eyes, is the passage in which Waid argues that Internet culture, with the premium it places on distributing content people enjoy to as many other people as possible, has actually reinvigorated the notion that art has inherent value, in cultural terms if not financial ones:

And I’ll tell you why. It’s not because people “like stealing.” It’s because the greatest societal change in the last five years is that we are entering an era of sharing. Twitter and YouTube and Facebook–they’re all about sharing. Sharing links, sharing photographs, sending some video of some cat doing something stupid–that’s the era we’re entering. And whether or not you’re sharing things that technically aren’t yours to share, whether or not you’re angry because you see this as a “generation of entitlement,” that’s not the issue–the issue is, it’s happening, and the internet’s ability to reward sharing has reignited this concept that the public domain has cultural value.

Waid and his audience didn’t have the luxury you currently have, of being able to go through the speech at your leisure when you’re not reaching the end of a long convention day with a few vodkas under your belt. Take advantage, read the whole thing, and let us know what you think.

Quote of the Day #2 | Scott Kurtz on Mark Waid vs. Sergio Aragonés

If you’re a member of an industry that let Dave Cockrum die in a VA hospital after helping give us most of the X-Men characters that comprised three blockbuster films and you get pissy about what Mark Waid said, then you deserve to remain on this sinking ship.

When Diamond Comics can’t make money despite being a monopoly, it’s time to start listening to people like Mark Waid.

Half of the people he delivered his speech to were over the age of 50, currently not working on a project in comics, and are most likely without health insurance, retirement or savings accounts.

Mark Waid had the audacity to warn a group of people he cares about, that nobody is putting the internet in a god damn DeLorean and driving it 88mph towards the twin pines mall. And for that he got dressed down by Santa Claus in front of his peers.

That’s how scared people are right now.

And the bottom line of it all is that in about 5 years, a lot of people are going to owe Mark Waid a fucking apology.

PVP writer/artist and Harvey Awards emcee Scott Kurtz reacts with characteristic, shall we say, candor to Mark Waid’s keynote address on copyright and piracy and white-beardedGroo cartoonist Sergio Aragonés’ heatedly negative reaction thereto.

(via Joe Keatinge)

Irreproducible: Waid, Aragones, and Levy on copyright

Comics writer and BOOM! Studios Chief Creative Officer Mark Waid delivered the keynote address Saturday at the Harvey Awards ceremony at Baltimore Comic-Con, and from all accounts, it was a doozy. Heidi MacDonald live-tweeted the event and summed it up later in a post.

From her account, Waid’s speech was about the importance of having a public domain, and his point was that, originally, copyright existed to give creators an exclusive right to their work for a reasonable time and then release it to the public domain. “No one would argue that the world isn’t better by being able to see a Renoir for free,” MacDonald quoted Waid as saying, adding, “Now big corporations use copyright extended under the illusion it helps us all. Giving back to public domain helps culture, says Waid.” As for file sharing, Waid says, it’s “legit” to worry about it but “it isn’t going away. We can’t stop it and we’re entering the sharing era.” (All quotes drawn from MacDonald’s tweets.)

After the ceremony, MacDonald reported, Waid and cartoonist Sergio Aragones had some sort of heated discussion, although it ended in a hug. She caught up with Aragones after everyone was thrown out of the bar and did a quick interview:

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Is there such a thing as an ethical pirate?

At Comics Worth Reading, Johanna Draper Carlson makes the argument that it is ethical to download “pirate” comics if you have already bought the hard copy, but you want a digital copy for the sake of convenience.

My husband, an old-school comic fan, is a fanatic for keeping the periodical comics in near-perfect shape. Me, I’m not quite so careful with them (since for me, they’re to be read and probably forgotten before the next chapter comes out). My graphic novels are sturdier and hold up better to sloppy handling. So to keep the peace, and avoid having an unhappy husband, I’m contemplating downloading versions of the comics we have already bought. That way, KC has the paper objects, and I have versions to read without worrying about what condition they’re in or if I’m stacking them too high or piling things on top of them. Plus, I can take comic books with me while traveling, something I’d otherwise never do with individual issues. (I read them too quickly to justify the space in packing them.)

This argument has the endorsement of Randy Cohen, the Ethicist columnist for the New York Times, who wrote:

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