The Comic Book Pirate Interviews, Part II

Comics piracy remains a contentious issue, even as more legal downloads become available with each passing week. While the community has squabbled over the ethics of downloading for years, little attention gets paid to those who scan and upload the books in the first place. Last Monday, we posted the first in a series of interviews with some of the people putting those books online in an attempt to wrap our heads around why they do what they do. Today, that quest for understanding continues.

We begin with a Mr. “Noah Vale”, who responded to questions with an essay which we will leave largely unedited:

Wow…. Most of the comments on your article nibble around the edges of the scanning world, a bit here and there are completely accurate, other parts not so much. Let me try and take this in the form of a rambling narrative… I’ve been scanning for about 6 years. I first started scanning some old golden age comics I picked up at a flea market. I found a yahoo groups scanning guide which laid out a system and standard for scanning comics, pretty much the same one everyone who scans ends up running across and not much has changed since it was written back in 2004 except for width dimensions and dpi size. Within a couple weeks of scanning, I was approached by one of the scanner groups to join and declined. The requests to join kept coming and about 4 years ago, I committed to scan 0-Day, (first day of issue) books. I scanned weekly for over 70 weeks and I continue to scan today; choosing to work on public domain comics and magazines, but I haven’t scanned a new book in over 3 years. I’ve probably scanned and edited 400 books, and probably edited or scanned for another editor another 300. I scanned and edited weekly books when I got home from work committing about 3 hours a night 2 days a week.. I equally either scanned for edit or edited for another scanner every Wednesday and Thursday for about a year and a half… every week.

There are presently 3 or 4 major scanning groups out there, there’s drama, but not a lot of jealousy of envy between the groups. I’ve been in 2 of them and have worked with another group without joining. The remarkable part is this is it is a worldwide thing, the majority of scanners are not from North America, and the lion’s share of comic scans are shared in the 3rd world and Europe where comic distribution is weak and unreliable. Once a scan is released, there’s no way of telling how many times it’s been grabbed, the outlets for the files are endless. I figure there are over 100 active scanners worldwide and as far as I know, none of them work in the comic industry, either on the production end or the retail end. Most groups work with a team of a scanner who supplies the ‘raws” and an editor who uses Photoshop to tweak and join double page splashes, adjust colors and contrast and package the images up for a reading program. It’s much faster to scan than to edit, but the edit is where the magic is. I can scan 3 or 4 books in a night. I can edit 2 if I don’t scan, so a book from start to finish probably runs about 2 hours and a bit. Some books can have multiple editors and the work is quicker, people grabbing different sets of raws to edit. 1 group in particular has a house style, a very refined and defined edit, their books have a group look.

I have always spent too much money on comics, and I continue to do so now. I have relationships with some comic artists and writers who know I scan golden age now, and support what I do, but haven’t mentioned anything about 0-Day scanning. Most twenty-something creators know that the price of getting your book known and out there is dealing with the piracy. Steve Lieber had one of the more atypical encounters with comic piracy:

http://torrentfreak.com/book-piracy-can-boost-book-sales-tremendously101023/

Again, the main issue with Piracy is that it takes the decision of how you as a creator would like your product to be distributed. Right now most of the younger creators realize they have to get in front of this digital revolution or be steamrolled by it. comiXology is on the right track, as is DC and Image with their same day sales, but again price point is an issue, the job of the digital edition should be to promote sales of the floppy, or the graphic novel collection. I know of a few scanners who are done with scanning of the new books because of the same-day digital availability of books. When I was scanning, I enjoyed the smaller publications more than the mainstream books, as you edit, you read a lot of crappy comics and DC and Marvel really had more than their fair share of crap. There’s not much here that’s a secret, there are corners of the internet where all this information is shared freely and openly, however, I’m still in this world, so I really don’t want to talk about distribution networks, or digital outlets, though they are plentiful and easily googled.

As to whether scanners are misrepresented in the piracy debate, I can quote Ken Foree from the original DAWN OF THE DEAD : “Wake up, sucker! We’re thieves and we’re bad guys. That’s exactly what we are. We gotta find our own way.”

Thanks for your candor, Mr. Vale!

Speaking of candor, some of the most specific answers we got were from a gent we’ll call “Scanbug,” whose interview is also presented unedited to best capture its essence. Mr. Bug has some very strongly held opinions about his work, and no qualms to speak of:

How long have you been scanning?

3 years

Do you remember the first book you ever did?

the legend of dark crystal vol. one by toykopop

What made you decide to start?

i think a downloaded something like 4 gigs of comics in one day and felt a little bit guilty so i went out and bought a 60 dollar scanner from walmart and downloaded a cracked version of photoshop

and away I went

How many books would you say you’ve put online? Do you try to do a certain number each week, or just whatever you happen to buy?

950 releases(half of those comics the rest kids books with a few magazines and other formats

What kind of time goes into an undertaking like this?

It depends on the source material. New is easier than older. Double-page spreads or joins add a considerable amount of extra junk to do.

Do you scan at night, mostly? At your day job? What’s the routine?

I stopped watching TV like five years ago. It’s amazing how much free time you have when you’re not being brainwashed.

Would you by any chance work for a comic shop and/or publisher, or are you buying all these books every week?

I buy my stuff from little used book stores, flea markets, ebay, amazon, etc. as well as the LCS

Do you have any kind of metrics on your end that tell you how many times one of your scans has been downloaded? If so, what kind of numbers are we talking about?

From the free stats available from megaupload, rapidshare and the like, My direct uploads have been downloaded about 300k. beyond that its impossible to say how many downloads mirrored uploads and torrents create.IDK, maybe a million.

I am fascinated by how the group dynamic works. Is there a set schedule for who scans what? Is there a pecking order? A concerted effort to make sure every book is covered? How many scanners would you say there are in a group at a given time? How does someone get accepted into the group?

As a member of the dregs, the group dynamic is very casual. Just a bunch of junk hunter’s sharing their finds. The very short time i was with the Minute Men, The amount of “office politics” or “highschool drama” caused by certain scanners put me off both of the larger groups.Half a dozen dregs.Half a dozen CPS. About a dozen each for mm and the DCP. To join a group i would say “MURK LOAR”

Since you started scanning, have you ever gotten comics you wouldn’t normally buy just to scan them in?

All of them. The market implosion of the 1990s had killed my love of the medium. Only after starting to read scans online, did i become interested in comics again. The specific comics i scan is decided by whether or not its on THELIST ( a txt file than lists all the comics scanned to date

How do you respond to critics who say scanning hurts the industry and the people who work in it?

the same critics said the same things about every new media and they’re always proved wrong. tv did not kill radio. the car did not make horses exinct. Bands are still making money performing even though mp3 are widely available

what kind of interactions have you had with creators, either at conventions or online? Have you ever discussed scanning with a writer or artist?

I live on a little island days away from major metrolopi, so ive never been to a con in me life. :(

DC, Image, and a number of other publishers have started offering day-and-date digital comics for sale. How has this affected your activity? Will it change your justification for uploading books? What impact if any do you think it will have on the community?

zero and or none.the oligarchies are either using web based viewers or drm formats not cbr.There’s scanners or there that just take that stuff and convert it to free cbrs

Finally: do you feel like scanners (or file sharing in general) have been misrepresented in online debates about piracy? Do you want to set the record straight about anything?

Copyright is does not protect creators rights or financial well being, it protects monopolized markets for the established media oligarchies. all the way back to the statute of anne being used to stifle the new media of movable type press. Sharing culture is morally right and the internet makes it very easy not only to share culture with today’s world but with future mankind.

Next week, we round out our series with a scanner who brings a female perspective to the conversation.

Comments

  1. irrg says:

    He felt guilty about downloading 4 gigs and then went and pirated Photoshop. He and I might have a different definition of guilt.

    I stopped reading when we got to the “no longer being brainwashed” comment. This guy seriously has some screws loose.

    • Gilgamesh417 Gilgamesh417 says:

      He’s a nut. Modern Family is awesome and the only thing it brainwashes me of is that if Sofia Vergara and Julie Bowen made out, my brain would explode.

    • boosebaster boosebaster says:

      Photoshop is a completely different situation. It’s practically marketing. Without home users pirating it, it wouldn’t be as massive as it is (“to photoshop” is a widely used phrase for example), and wouldn’t be so widely used by businesses. Adobe is well aware of this – some people even suggest that that’s where the cracked versions originate.

    • Theoran Theoran says:

      I agree irrg. I’m guessing Scanbug wears a tin foil hat to keep the government from stealing his thoughts.

    • Mangaman Mangaman says:

      “Screws loose?” Now, now, let’s not resort to name-calling here. If you don’t have anything constructive to say, it’s best not to say anything at all (generally).

      You stopped reading after “brainwashed” because it challenged your lifestyle by suggesting that the content you intake from television might be organized to subtlety convey a message into your subconscious (which in fact IS the reason why commercials can cost up to BILLIONS).

      At any rate I found this interview very interesting even though it may or may not be an imposter (who can ever say? this is the internet after all).

    • houseian houseian says:

      Agreed. The guy from part 1 and the first response of part 2 are pretty intelligent responses. The 3rd bloke just seems like a nut. I did continue reading after “brainwashed” and had the pleasure of reading this token answer ‘Copyright is does not protect creators rights or financial well being, it protects monopolized markets for the established media oligarchies’. Just a stereotypical response he’s copied from someone who actually understands what that means and was probably applied to another media like TV where there are no creator owned elements or indie outlets.

  2. Gilgamesh417 Gilgamesh417 says:

    Wow, there are some issues I take with this. Serious issues. Most notably in that they are scanning WITHOUT informing the creator/publisher and offering to figure out some way to make things work. What they are doing is illegal, through and through. There is no moral obligation for a creator to share his or her work – it’s all a matter of if they do or don’t and how they think it might impact their business. Professionals don’t have to offer their stuff for free if they don’t want to and you have no right to take their stuff and distribute it for free.

    Additionally, if you DO look at the MP3 market, piracy has been mitigated because the cost and availability of MP3s have improved making it more sensible for people to buy their music instead of pirating it. Is the RIAA and MPAA’s policies of hunting down and destroying piraters right? No, their methods are certainly wrong and instead of adapting their business models to the new tech.

    Finally, this guy sounds like a kook. What the heck is wrong with Modern Family and Community?!

    • I think its a generational thing, but i’ve noticed this sort of zeitgeist all over the internet that all types of information whether it be books, magazines, music, movies, comics, etc should be freely available to everyone in some sort of Jedi like digital library. Its a massive and cultural misguided interpretation of what copyright does and how it works. The rise of “Creative Commons” came out of this kind of groundswell i think. Right or wrong, its a pretty big mindset that i’m constantly seeing from younger generations and its only growing.

      Traditional respect for copyright is going away, and ideas of rights and wrongs for how we consume and pay for media is rapidly changing.

  3. diebenny diebenny says:

    Wow. Another great article.

    One thing that interests me alot (eat it grammar Nazis) is how they all mention the drama and infighting.

  4. JokersNuts JokersNuts says:

    Comixology doesn’t sell comics in TRADE form, they only sell single issues. if I want to read a collected trade i have to shell out 2 bucks and issue and download them individually.

    • gobo gobo says:

      You’re mostly right but they’re starting to release more trades, mainly from Image.

    • JokersNuts JokersNuts says:

      I hate reading comics digitally, but I am willing to do it if the price is fair, I can download the entire trade with one purchase, and I can’t find a physical copy of what I am looking for. I was just at NY Comic Con and spent over $300 on trades I was looking for, what I couldn’t find I want to download. I am willing to pay, but Comixology doesn’t sell trades. That leaves me with the pirates, unfortunately I am not savvy enough to know how or where to find them.

    • gobo gobo says:

      Blame Marvel and DC for that, also trades are pretty rare when it comes to pirated books too.

    • Theoran Theoran says:

      “Blame Marvel and DC for that, also trades are pretty rare when it comes to pirated books too.”

      Why scan the trade when the single issues are already done. You will find however, where scanners will scan the add on pages and release that part.

    • D D says:

      It is getting a bit better trade wise I got the entire planetary collection 1-27 on comixology for 24.99 last month

    • kennyg kennyg says:

      All of Planetary for $24.99? That’s a great deal, less than $1.00 per issue. This reminds me of something my brother-in-law, who works in radio, said about music piracy: make music “too cheap to steal.” Meaning, that if you provide a quality product and a reasonable price, it is easier, less risky, and more attractive for people to legally just buy it than try and illegally download it. I think outlets like Amazon and emusic have done this to a large degree, but not so much iTunes, even though it probably sells more than them combined. I think $2.99 is still too expensive for digital comics, especially if the file doesn’t physically exist on your platform of choice, so unfortunately people will continue to steal.

  5. gobo gobo says:

    Really happy Jim snagged a nutbar for these interviews.

  6. that milItant and robinhood-y stance on copyright is pretty typical. There might be some truth in it for corporate controlled characters (superman, batman etc) but that just does not fly with creator owned stuff. I’ve noticed a giant push to make everything open sourced or creative commons with donations as a business model is the only way to do things…. As if trying to make a living off of your own work is somehow evil. I don’t get it.

    Warren Ellis had an interesting thought on Piracy and creator owned saying something to the effect of the greatest threat to a writer is obscurity. Seems like there is a wide spectrum within this world between entitled revolutionaries and those who want to preview stuff to maybe buy later.

    Also interesting how international it is.

  7. stefan1138 stefan1138 says:

    What an idiot!!! His answeres don’t make any sense. He has no point and worst thing is: He actually thinks he has one…

  8. moodydoom moodydoom says:

    i don’t think there’s much point to this discussion if we just start calling people idiots and kooks.

    Something ‘Noah Vale’ brought up that i agree with is the distribution to Europe and third world countries. Digital outlets have changed this problem but for decades comic fans outside of major markets were forced to pay huge markups on comics thx to crazy taxes and importing fees and even then many independent comics were unavailable. I was a comic-fan in one of these countries and I can tell you it was both expensive and hard damn work.

    The scanning trend exists because publishers have failed to innovate and deliver. I find it inspiring to see that some scanners have dropped out thx to day-and-date digital sales. Hopefully publishers catch a wake up and move more aggressively on this. And i agree with ‘Scanbag’, drming stuff is a sure-fire way to ensure scanning and downloading continues. If you stop treating every customer as a thief, maybe they will stop acting like one

  9. Wrkngclasshero (@joinedtofollow) says:

    I think this is a great series of articles and i hope more follow. I will admit that I download scans, mostly out of an interest to get back into comics after a 15 year absence. A wife, mortgage , a two year old and a general lack of space prevent me from buying monthly books, but acces to scans have prompted me to purchasing hard cover collected editions of books that were noteworthy. I am sure many of you will scoff and say I am stealing, so be it. The fact of the matter is that I would not buy a floppy, but these scans have persuaded me to put down my hard earned $$ for trade purchases that I would not have made otherwise. I can’t imagine I am the only one.

  10. Walter Walter says:

    Enough people will legally purchase materials whether they be dvds, songs, or comics that the number of people who view materials through file sharing websites is insignificant. I have known several people who had modded xboxes and most of the time if there was a game that they really wanted and liked they would buy a legitimate copy of the game.

    • Jim Mroczkowski Jim Mroczkowski (@jimski) says:

      In the case of comics, if not the others, I think that’s simply not true. Here we have a single individual whose files have been downloaded (he thinks) 300,000 times, and those are just the ones he knows about. In comics, those are real numbers, my friend.

    • of course that opens the door to the paradoxical question of whether or not those DL numbers equal lost sales? and if so what would the ratio be. Such an abstract, and complicated thing…maybe another Jimski article? hinthintnudgenudge.

    • moodydoom moodydoom says:

      ^^ indeed, digital hoarding is a sickness : ) not sure it equals lost sales either

    • gobo gobo says:

      Whether it equals lost sales or not, it’s still a much worse ratio of DLs to actual sales than any other pirated medium.

    • @gobo–thats a pretty interesting declaration. How do you know that? I’d love to read something about that whole side of things.

  11. Walter Walter says:

    Well if comics were not $3 and $4 dollars each for 15-20 pages of material maybe less people would be trying to dowload them for free.

    • Conor Kilpatrick Conor Kilpatrick (@cskilpatrick) says:

      I’m currently in the market for a car. They’re really expensive. I guess I should just steal one.

    • moodydoom moodydoom says:

      very subtle Conor : ) …tell me you don’t long for the days of a monthly subscription for comics?

      down with the a la carte, bring on the buffet!

    • cutty cutty says:

      I wonder if you know the real costs in producing a comic, they are not running a charity. Regardless of whether or not you hate 4 dollar comics, it’s stealing.

    • Conor Kilpatrick Conor Kilpatrick (@cskilpatrick) says:

      @moodydoom I never subscribed to comics, so I don’t. But digital subscriptions are rolling out slowly. You can already subscribe to some titles on Apple’s Newsstand.

    • MisterShaw MisterShaw says:

      While I’m not going to say that digital piracy is morally right, I don’t think that’s really a fair comparison, Conor. When you’re shopping for a car (or a house, or a box of macaroni & cheese), there are levels of quality, longevity, and perceived value from brand, with accompanying price differences. Cadillac vs. Hyundai, etc.

      With comics, they’re the same price, no matter the quality. Whether you’re getting Blue Water’s latest dreck or Morrison’s latest opus, you’re done with it in about as much time as it takes for a trip to the bathroom (generally speaking). The price vs. (perceived) value is way off, far more so than it is with almost every other high-priced item. High-priced being a relative term, of course.

    • Conor Kilpatrick Conor Kilpatrick (@cskilpatrick) says:

      @MisterShaw: It’s the same thing. Products cost a certain amount of money. You either spend the money on the product that you want, or you don’t get that product. Or you steal it. Complaining about the quality is just an excuse.

    • Stealing is taking something from someone. If you steal the car the owner no longer has it. If you use a duplicator ray on a car and then drive away in your copy the owner still has the car you would have a better analogy. As far as I know duplicator rays aren’t illegal,but maybe it’s just like bongs, legal to own, illegal to use in the way everyone uses them.

    • davetv davetv says:

      Reminds me of this song…

      Copying Is Not Theft

      http://youtu.be/IeTybKL1pM4

    • Conor Kilpatrick Conor Kilpatrick (@cskilpatrick) says:

      @comic book know it all: Duplicating a comic book and distributing it to people so they can read something they don’t want to pay for is taking from someone. You are taking money from an artist for his or her work.

    • I was hoping that asinine video wouldn’t find its way around here, as it misses the point to a degree which I rarely see. What’s the point of it? That copying and theft don’t have the same dictionary definition? Well…no shit. The maker of that video believes that since stealing something and copying something don’t share the same semantics, copying must be ok! She says this besides the fact that even though you’re not stealing it, you ARE still depriving money from the makers.

    • @conor–i know that you and others have been trying to frame that argument in many different ways for a very long time, but i think those 2 sentences are really the best i’ve heard…Keep using that one.

    • Conor you are not taking anything from the artist. They do not have your money. So you aren’t taking it. You are preventing them from getting it but that’s not the same as taking it. I’m not saying its right. Punching someone is not stealing but it’s still wrong. Digitally copying and distributing comics is wrong but it’s not stealing. It’s copyright infringement. That term doesn’t resonate with people so calling it stealing makes it seem worse. Some could argue its worse than stealing because something gets stolen once but copyright infringement is typically an ongoing crime that grows with each download. It’s semantics, but I’m not a fan of redefining terms to suit an agenda, even if the agenda is right in my opinion.

      I am writing this in a library surrounded by books. If I check one out and read it, iI am enjoying a work without paying the creator. The difference is the author/publisher finds this acceptable and thinks is for the public good and because libraries still purchase thousands of copies, whereas digital copying only requires one purchase.

  12. Gerard Gerard says:

    Great article once more. Very informative, however what I’m still not understanding out of the first three interviews is how and why they started. And how they feel about talking about their ‘hobby’, is this something you tell your co-workers or parents about??

    Uhm… What’s “MURK LOAR”???

    • Heroville Heroville says:

      He’s telling people to lurk on boards more before asking to admitted into a group. And he said it in the most obnoxious way possible.

  13. Jeff Reid JeffR (@JeffRReid) says:

    Really interesting article again, Jim. Well done.

  14. RoiVampire RoiVampire says:

    I love when people say things like television brain washes you as if every single television show is the same exact thing. As if there is no difference between Sesame Street, a Red Sox game, Jersey Shore and Dateline.

    Back on point though, this remains fascinating Jimski and I’m looking forward to more.

  15. Josh Flanagan Josh Flanagan (@jaflanagan) says:

    “The Oligarchies”

    DC Comics is hardly Ma Bell. Image Comics is about 8-9 people. UGH!

  16. Walter Walter says:

    There is a huge difference between stealing a car, and downloading an item that someone else has decided to upload to the Internet. I don’t get any comics online because I can afford to buy all the titles that I like and I prefer the feel of comics on paper, but honestly show me someone who has never gotten some sort of item that was copyrighted off of the Internet.

  17. Walter Walter says:

    If someone is trying to make a profit off the work of another then I have a problem with it, but if someone buys a comic, scans it and puts it online for anyone to see without charging them for it then I don’t have a problem with it, It is no different than if I buy a comic and let all my friends read it.

    • Josh Flanagan Josh Flanagan (@jaflanagan) says:

      If you have 300,000 friends, and that issue holds up really well, I guess. And they can all read it simultaneously.

    • If I scanned a comic and only 5 people read it and they didn’t read it at the same time would it be ok? If the inherent wrongness of file sharing is that someone enjoys the fruits of someone’s creative labor without compensating them, then how is a borrowed comic any different?

    • Conor Kilpatrick Conor Kilpatrick (@cskilpatrick) says:

      @comic book know it all: A borrowed comic book is still a comic book that has been paid for. A scanned comic is a brand new copy that has not been paid for.

    • If I buy a comic and scan it and post it . Have I not bought and paid for it? The question is what have I bought. If I bought it I can do whatever I want to with it right. That’s not the case. The problem is that all of the analogies people use in this discussion don’t translate to this discussion. As I have said I am not in favor of illegal downloading. I just think we need to better frame the discussion. When you buy a comic you are buying two things, a physical object and a license to view intellectual property. Those two things are intrinsically linked. If you loan the comic you not only no longer possess the physical copy you also no longer have the license to view the IP. It goes with the book. If the borrower destroys or moves away without giving it back, you don’t have the license any more. technology ruined that model. Now the physical copy and the license can be separated. I do not purchase the right to distribute that license without the copy. that is where it’s illegal. Same hold true with libraries. They only loan out 1 license per copy, and that license goes with the book each time it’s checked out. It is legal to check out a book/ cd/ DVD from the library, it’s not legal to copy them.

      This is a very technical argument that makes people’s eyes gloss over and most people don’t think of it in terms of purchasing a license, they think of buying a comic. If I buy it I can do what I want to with it. And that is correct, the physical copy is yours, the IP content is not. I think I have given the impression that I am in favor of illegal downloading, which I am not. I am just trying to make the discussion more accurate.

  18. rift1128 rift1128 says:

    Hmm… This is an interesting argument and i guess i view it a little different then others. I got into comics in early 2000′s and was deeply involved with it until about 2007. At that point somethings changed: I had a kid, I got married, lost some income, etc and was devastated that i could no longer afford any comics. Im not saying cutting down my pull list, but literally eliminating comics as a whole. This is a difficult proposition and was one of the hardest things… For about six months i didnt read a single book and eliminated my weekly trip the shop due to the urge and longing to still purchase one or two issues.

    After that six months i found some comics on torrent sites and spent about a year reading some select comics i considered must reads. This got me through that year and now i am back to the local store and purchasing my comics normal. During this time, i spent the little money i could find every few months on a graphic novel of the stuff i was reading that i loved. I read Sinestro War through the torrent but then purchased the hard covers. This leads me to the difficult question of peoples motives. Im not saying it is right or wrong to do this.. However with the industry struggling could some readers manage to stay in comics with this option? I could have never come back to comics but this kept me in. With never ending continuity and ongoing saga’s of stories, missing years can be hard to come back from especially if you are into mostly DC or Marvel.

    Again, im not saying it is the right thing to do or chastising the ones who do it. Its just another opinion.

    • Gerard Gerard says:

      Amen, brother.

      I have been in the same situation. And what’s more is that the torrents have introduced me to titles I normally wouldn’t have given a chance. This is exactly what happened with me and Fables, my LCS didn’t have it on the racks, I did hear good things about it on the forums, but after I stumbled upon it through bittorent, I read the first three trades worth of issues, then got back and bought all of it.

      Really, torrenting has introduced me to a whole lot of non-superhero titles, now with the introduction of legal digital comics this argument is less valid. But I still think that scans are a good way too sample stuff you can buy later on.

  19. MrSethypants MrSethypants says:

    These scanners are fucking pathetic

  20. kids today.
    its sad to see the rising devaluation of all artists
    and the odd sense of entitlement amongst the interneting masses.
    Downloaders would make good homeless people.

    Lo, ages ago, when a land line phone bill arrived in the mail, Ma Bell would list every phone call you made, the number you called, the day and the time and how long you talked. No one cried this as a violation of our collective freedoms. It was thought of as paying for the services you were using.

    All the internet comes from phone/cable/satellite providers who right now record every single website you visit and everything you download. They could easily record all of this data and send it to you in a bill every month.

    People could pay more when they download content. Those fees could be given back to the copyright holders of the downloaded content or to artist’s rights societies that collect the fees for their members.

    “Illegal” downloading would disappear because the downloaders would be paying the phone companies who in turn and in theory would pay the artists. Scanners could scan all the copyrighted material they want. The money would trickle back to the artists

    The two major reasons against such a plan kinda come down to either:

    hey, no fair. i want free stuff.
    wait someone would know about all my porn downloads.

    i’ll let you decide which group you kinda fall into.

    • muddi900 says:

      Yeah, that’s not possible. Encrypted connection is just one of many ways to beat it. That’s if you can bypass privacy legistlations to enact such a scheme.

      The government can ban encrypted connections, and many governments have, but I doubt it is possible anytime soon in the States. What are you gonna ban next? Padlocks and other home security matters. They are trying ban households that pirate, but that will only hold-up as long as the internet is seen as a luxury and not utility. You don’t cut-off people’s electricity if one member is doing something illegal.

    • personal opinion=your analogies a tad flawed. (please use your sincere voice here)

      i.e. electricity. A governmment or company would cut off your electricity if you bypassed the meter charging you for it. (which is essentially what my theory advocated)

      i.e. padlocks and home security…also would be removed if they prevented meters from being read in order to charge you for the services being used. i seem to big on the “pay for play” motif tonight.

      not sure what “privacy legislations” have been enacted since the time of itemized long distance phone calls that so radically changes things today. only thing that seems to have changed is our sense of “privacy”

      I think you brought up a good point about any technical solutions to this problem can be circumvented technically though.

      i will never forgive you though for making me re-read my boring post to find the part where i mentioned “banning” things…and then i couldn’t even find it.

      but i do appreciate you taking the time out of your schedule to read our post here and even more time to type a response. I know you had the choice to read many posts and even more choices to which to respond and your business is greatly appreciated.

    • by the by…encrypted connection or any other such system is not really a problem and there’s a libertarian solution:

      flat encryption fee on your internet bill…you want to encrypt your tele-com company charges you a flat fee each month to do so..that fee goes into the fund for copyright holders…

      don’t want to pay the fee…don’t use security devices…its your choice…market place takes care of everything…no need for laws…

      and im not even smart and i came up with that…just think what crafty business people can do.

      the internet is just a bunch of unconnected computers without your phone/cable/satelite companies…and those companies cannot exist without licensing from the government which dictates their function.

      now i’ve bored myself enough to unconnect. yawn.

  21. File sharing is illegal, no question about it, but then again so is speeding, smoking pot, drinking underage, gay marriage and sodomy in many states. I have done many of those things. Lots of things are illegal that arent wrong, and many legal things are wrong. Whether or not it’s moral is up to you to decide. If you have never broken a law good for you, I’d consider trying it, some of those things are lots of fun and don’t actually hurt anyone. If you have broken laws and you are getting all indignant about these guys, then look up at that little google box and type out ” glass houses stones” and see what it says.

    Whether its right or wrong is a matter of opinion. Everyone’s got one and they all seem to shre them on the Internet. You are all wrong by the way unless you agree with me, and if all of you were smart enough to agree with me all the worlds problems would be solved.

    What is NOT an opinion, but is one of those other things called facts, is that if comic companies and creators don’t make enough money making comics, then they will stop and then comics will disappear and this site and podcast will disappear and we won’t be able to have these lovely discussions anymore.

    • That negative logic doesn’t necessarily apply here, since if you have a gay marriage or drink underage, you’re not depriving money from other people. With illegally downloading comics, you are.

    • tweeter81 tweeter81 says:

      @comic book know it all:

      I don’t know if you just leave these comments to get a rise out of people, or if you actually believe what you are saying…but if you actually believe the filth you are spewing, you need to have your head checked.

      You are making that argument that we should decide if a LAW is morally right or wrong and live our lives with that metric in mind. There is a tiny little problem with that argument…in the United States (still the greatest country on earth) we have a little thing called “The Rule of Law”. This means that the majority of the people choose to follow the rules and uphold the laws that exist (whether out of fear of punishment or “doing the right thing” – I don’t know).

      If we (as a Society) got to a point where the majority thought like you (and GOD HELP US, there are already too many of you out there), our Society as we know it would break down. The police would all be crooked, it wouldn’t be safe to walk in the streets, no entertainment media would be released because everybody would just steal it and the creators sure as hell don’t want to work for free, and nobody would hold anybody accountable for their actions — even if they were reprehensible.

      I know what I said above was a little dramatic, but all bad things start from something not so bad–I can’t afford this $3 luxury item, so I’ll just steal it–that is a slippery slope, and where does it finally end. Connor’s example about stealing a car is spot on. Yes, technically stealing a car is a bigger deal in the eyes of the law than stealing a comic, but they are morally equivalent for sure. You are taking something that does not belong to you (without paying for it) and making use of it. This is not rocket science, brother.

      Furthermore, it was said earlier that how is to be considered “bad” to merely share your comics (with 3 people or 300,000 people, it doesn’t matter). It is “morally” right to have a “sharing culture”. The guy who said that probably wouldn’t like the following scenario:

      Let’s say he went to the bank and took out his life savings in $100 bills. He had his $100 bills stacked up three feet high next to his bed. I break into his house while he’s at work and take all the $100 bills and just distribute them to all of his neighbors — just start throwing them all around the neighborhood. That is just me sharing something that is not mine (nor do I have any legal right to it) with all the other people who need that money. Doesn’t that seem kinda wrong, and silly. Scanning and distributing copywrited material is the EXACT SAME THING.

      You and others like you need to understand the dangerous path you are taking us down and take a moment to reflect on how the breakdown of morals could send us in the U.S.A. spiraling down the tubes.

    • moodydoom moodydoom says:

      “In a closed society where everybody’s guilty, the only crime is getting caught. In a world of thieves, the only final sin is stupidity.” – Hunter S. Thompson

    • Whoa there tweeter, where did I endorse chaos in the streets? I said people make their own choices on right and wrong and choose to ignore laws they don’t agree with. I think sharing comics is WRONG, that why I don’t do it. Not because it’s illegal, but as i said, because it can lead to the end of comics. As for the Rule of Law, there are plenty of things that are legal that I find morally reprehensible, i don’t do those things, even if they are legal. I choose a moral life over a legal one. Remember when the Rule of Law you speak so highly of allowed slavery? Spend 5 minutes on C-SPAN and you see the law is not determined by the will of the people but by a small number of easily influenced officials.

      For the record i do not just try to get a rise out of people, I try to get a thought out of people. And to correct what i see as wrong information, like the assertion that downloading is stealing. Look at your own example. No one scanning is TAKING anything, all of the $100 bills are still there in the guys house, there are just copies of them out there for others to use. Preventing someone getting something they do not possess (i.e. the money from a purchase) is not the same as taking money they have. If you can’t see the difference, fine by me, keep calling a frog a duck, all you want, but it ain’t gonna fly. I’m not going to change you mind, you aren’t going to change mine. Hopefully someone reading these comments with a somewhat less narrow mind will get my point. Weak metaphors do nothing to help an argument, they only serve to distort the truth. Scanning is wrong but it’s not stealing.

      And I agree that the United States is the greatest country on earth (though I don’t see the need to proclaim it during unrelated discussions, nor is it the only country to have a “Rule of Law”. Pretty much all of them do, and some would lop your head of for saying what you said. But that’s ok right, I mean it’s the law, you wouldn’t want to disobey it) One of my favorite parts of America is how it started buy a bunch of people disobeying the rule of law, that they didn’t agree with. And before someone decides to misinterpret that, I am not equating scanners with the founding fathers. SCanners are criminals and worse they are harming something i hold dear. Of course had there are are probably still a few Brits who would characterize the founding fathers the same way.

  22. muddi900 says:

    I did not expect anything reasonable as soon as I read ‘brainwash’. Either from the scanner or this thread. He’s crazy but correct. If we follow the scarcity model of economics, and we do since hardcovers cost more than paperbacks, then the contents of a comic book, or any media, has no inherent value, regardless of quality. Digital media is not scarce. Ctrl-C->Ctrl-V(or Cmd if you’re a hipster ;D). You can make as many copies of it as you want. All the work artist does becomes worthless. It sounds cold, but it’s a fact.

    When John Mellencamp or Prince call the internet the ‘worst thing ever’, maybe only to promote their latest releases, they are almost correct. Technology has destroyed the whole order of a system that took centuries to set up, with in a decade. It is very scary when you think about it. The internet did what the nuke did for warfare, and we didn’t even blink. We are not the same civilization we were 20 years ago.

    All measures to fight it are, as Kieron Gillen said in his review of Dues Ex:Human Revolution, “…reactionary forces trying to put that genie back in the bottle.” Regardless of what you believe and which side you are on, the future does rest with these nihilistic self-appointed robin hoods, unless the nature of progress changes drastically.

    Also, Gillon’s Review:
    http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2011/09/06/deus-ex-human-revolution-is-about-drm/

    PS: I personally believe that yes content does have inherent value, I was just presenting it in the light of the economic model most of us follow when we trade anything.

    • diebenny diebenny says:

      RPS is one of my favorite web sites. I think that may be why I buy every Gillen comic I can.

    • muddi900 says:

      Not ever read any of Gillon’s comics. Gotta remedy that soon.

    • Burritoclock Burritoclock says:

      Blah. I’ve listen to this same argument over and over. First with music, then movies, then comics, and now books. Yet books, movies, music, and comics all still exist. Artist still get rich. The corporation/gatekeepers are the ones hurting. It no longer takes 160 people to work on a book and get it in stores and advertise it and pay off magazines to give you a blurb. Now a person can spend 6 months in front of his computer, pay less than $2,000 to get a good cover and a freelance editor and proofreader and make 100x more in 1 year than a standard publishing contract would have paid them in 30 years.

      People panicked when the printing press was invented and they thought no one would have a job because of the assembly line. How many people were put out of work by CGI effects? Digital Camera’s? ATM’s? etc. etc.

      Stand in the way of progress and you will be crushed every time. There are advantages to this entire thing as well. 300,000 potential customers or more. Figure out how to GET them, not how to PUNISH them. The companies that continue to sue housewives for $150,000 dollars and force restricting DRM on their paying customers will be gone in 10-15 years if they don’t adapt.

    • Burritoclock Burritoclock says:

      Wasn’t supposed to be a reply…. apologies.

  23. I blame Bill gates for this.

  24. moodydoom moodydoom says:

    man, people are getting emotional here…

    Personally I don’t think anything should be free nor should anyone expect it to be…

    Now for a dose of reality, this isn’t just about comics. It’s about all media.

    A consumer these days is faced with more daily content than ever before in history. The old methods of assigning value to individual pieces of content simply don’t work. That’s really the problem here. The value of content in an age of so much content. Now, some people will always take for free, but many people that do, I believe, would actually pony up if the deck wasn’t stacked.

    i love Ifanboy so don’t take this as a diss, but have you ever counted in an episode how many ‘you should pick this up’ recommendations you make each episode. Now add to that movies, new music coming out, new video games coming out …every single month. The entertainment dollar only goes so far and if comics want to compete and survive, then they need to adapt in a meaningful way. that’s not a moral issue, it’s just a very basic fact.

    Now, You can get defensive and say, ‘well if you can’t afford a new car you shouldn’t drive’ or some such thing, but I fear for where that will lead us eventually.

    We need to start working towards a new solution. The market is clearly contracting, and it seems everyone’s pointing fingers at the consumer – there’s not enough of ‘em, too many thieves…yada yada….and there we are, full circle and back to the glass house. anyone got a spare rock?

  25. Just using the numbers here, we have a couple hundred thousand people who love and enjoy reading comics, but don’t think they are worth paying for. I think that says a lot about the current state of the world and the comics industry. To just write them off as thieves is kinda short sighted i think.

    I’ve said it before but i’ll say it again. Instead of the industry scolding people and name calling for doing wrong, it might be a good idea to come up with some innovative, outside of the box ideas….not reboots, or events or all the tired crap we already have. New Ideas. Maybe a 22 paged pamphlet (digital or printed) for a set price is too much of a 20th century idea to still be relevant. I dunno. Drastic times call for radical ideas.

    Imagine how much better off the industry would be if you could convert 25 or 30% of those Downloaders?

    • moodydoom moodydoom says:

      **applause**

    • Smasher says:

      I couldn’t agree more with @wallythegreenmonster.

      Folks, consider how many times you come to iFanboy to read an article, its comments, and write your own.

      Even if you’re here once a day it says something about your interest in the medium and what you’re able to handle in terms your patience and your ability to read digital content. And that’s just a comic book site. Think of the thousands of people who participate in a similar fashion on the Huffington Post.

      Creators need to consider this as well and experiment with how they tell and deliver their stories.

    • JZga JZga says:

      I dunno man, what you’ve said makes sense TOO much sense.

    • I think this was the crux of Mark Waids argument. The one that got everyone pissed at him.

  26. Mangaman Mangaman says:

    This is quite possibly the best installment of this “interview”. Currently the most interesting segment on the site.

  27. oblivious247 says:

    His opinion on copyright is interesting….

    Over the summer I was unemployed and pirated my comics. Felt terrible about it, and now that I do have money, I’ve gone and bought a lot of those issues that I downloaded.

  28. davetv davetv says:

    A lot of pirates would convert with drm free.cbr/.cbz comics at .99 cents.

  29. jmstump jmstump says:

    Comparing the theft of a car is an unfair comparison to Digital Theft. They are two different things as there are more victims of physical theft than there are of Digital Theft. Stealing a car, a brand new one for example, has a victim of the car salesmen and the potential customer for that car. When downloading a comic book, you’re not taking a comic book out of the hands of someone who could have paid for it.

    I think the only way I can see that argument is if the comic was cancelled while having hundreds of millions of downloads. I would then say it’s essentially taking a book out of the hands of others who would be legitimately paying for it.

    Also one of the Pirates brings up one of the hardest things to argue, he doesn’t really know the actual amount of downloads one of his scans has received. Also there’s no context. Is that 300k Unique downloads? What if the same person downloaded it to their Laptop, desktop, and phone because they were too lazy to transfer the file. OR the download was killed multiple times, is that counted by the system he has? If it’s Rapidshare or megaupload, when does it count the download, when they click on what type of download they want or when the transfer starts? Without knowing how that number is tracked, it really doesn’t mean a whole lot. It’s the biggest black hole in the digital piracy argument. No one seems to have accurate numbers nor the best way to report them. The one thing that is agreed upon by a number of analysts is that they are grossly overestimated, even by different “tracking” systems.

    Also how many of the 300k already owned the book? How many of them purchased the book as a result? The 300k number means nothing to a numbers guy without the context. Sadly we’ll never know the conversion rate, unless every person who downloads something reports in when they purchase it or have purchased it and wanted a digital backup.

    Right now the 300k number is the equivalent to when one finds out that for years Steve Jobs was one of the lowest paid CEOs at $1 per year. Without knowing all of the perks he got along with stock and the fact that he was already worth billions, you’d be baffled how he was able to survive.

    The argument one way or the other will always be flawed to me without the whole picture. Sadly there’s no way to get the whole picture, for now anyways. I continue to state this: Piracy is here. For a creator to get paid on their content, they need to differentiate themselves and play the game: http://paperkeg.com/post/6251048547/3-things-creators-should-know-to-combat-piracy-of #shamelessplug

    In regards to the idea behind the post. I find it interesting that there are people who will devote the sheer amount of time and talent (especially with photoshop) to creating scans. Especially when the only value in doing so is having a digital backup and recognition behind an anonymous name. Shit if I were converting that much content digitally each year I would want people to know how efficient I am at it.

    • glennsim says:

      I think you hit a lot of nails on the head here. There often seems to be an assumption that 300,000 downloads is 300,000 issues that would have been purchased. But nobody really knows what those numbers are, and there are more scenarios where the creator/publisher either still benefits or at the very least does not suffer any real harm.

      I sometimes download books that I have pre-ordered but since I only get one shipment at the end of the month, I have to wait to read. So I’ll download it to read while I’m waiting.

      I knew another guy who downloaded, but he would end up generally purchasing a hardback of the stuff he really liked.

      And I knew another guy who read the downloads that the first guy pulled down, but had absolutely no intention of ever actually buying anything.

      Then you hear about the people who just want a digital copy to read on their device of the book they purchased. Then there’s the people who end up buying the trade. Or use downloading to try stuff out and end up buying the stuff they like. And the people who would pay $.99 for it, but since that’s not an option, just take it for free. They’re all out there, and none of those people are lost purchases.