Posted by No_Name_ (17403 posts) - - Show Bio

What does piracy mean to you as a comic fan? Do you pirate comics? Do you think piracy of comics are okay or justifiable? Many people are guilty of piracy for their entertainment. In fact, in 2009 Ipoque completed an internet study evaluating what people spend most of their time doing online. The result? BitTorrent accounted for 27 to 55 percent of internet traffic. That means nearly a quarter of the time spent on the internet is spent downloading (often pirating) copy written content. This includes the downloads of anything from video games to movies to -- you guessed it -- comic books. With the comic book industry on a steady decline, how can anyone justify downloading comic books, and is the comic book industry doing enough to combat piracy or are we seeing a domino effect and is it too late to stop the growing trend?

With the decline of comic book sales constantly looming, the idea that they may one day cease to exist isn't entirely far out there, especially if we look at the way the market has changed over the years. Back in 1997, comics sales were selling at approximately 100.32 million copies per year; ten years later comic sales dropped 15 million copies sold per year to 85.27 million copies. So what caused the decline of comic sales? This is a question publishers are constantly struggling with, and the truth is it could be attributed to a combination of factors. The increase in comic prices are directly related to the drop in sales, which in turn can be connected to the decline in the economy and the fact that people have less money to dedicate to entertainment. So while piracy can't directly be held responsible for the decline of comic sales, they certainly do not help the industry.

== TEASER ==

The internet houses a plethora of BitTorrent tracking websites which are responsible for coordinating the communication between parties attempting to download a torrent. In a nut shell, here's how it works. A seeder is an individual who owns the torrent file on his or her computer and makes that torrent file available for download to other parties. The BitTorrent tracker bridges the communication between the party looking to obtain said torrent and the individual who has the torrent.

Take for example Ultimate Spider-Man #160 which was released last Wednesday (June 22nd) in stores. This particular issue of Spider-Man was made available prior to it's official in store release on Tuesday evening, June 21st online. That means that someone had access to it before it hit store shelves and opted to upload the issue the night before it's release. All you need is one person to host the file first. Looking at the file a week later, it now has at least 433 seeders at any given time (the number of seeders fluctuates depending on when the seeders are online/make the file available for download). And while not all BitTorrent trackers track the number of times the file has been downloaded, this particular one does and it shows that the torrent for Ultimate Spider-Man #160 has been downloaded at least 11,600 times through their tracker. This number does not reflect the total number of times that same file has been downloaded through all the BitTorrent trackers combined. This number is based on only one tracking site. One of dozens of tracking sites where that same torrent file is being tracked.

The fact that the issue was made available online prior to the day of it's release is not only disheartening, but it's confusing. Why would someone with access to that file not only make it available online, but make it available online prior to it's release? If the individual works within the industry for either a publishing house or for a retailer he or she should recognize that the comics market is already struggling and that making the issue available for download online doesn't help the industry.

Often the argument from the "pirate" is that piracy is "not illegal," but just because it is not illegal does not mean it is not theft or isn't wrong. The pirate will oftentimes suggest that he or she would rather download the comic book online for free, rather than pay for something he/she does not know if they will enjoy. The kicker is this, the consumer controls the market. There probably would not be a revamp of the DC Universe, for example, if more people were purchasing books that they enjoyed. Already publishers walk a fine line between striving to progress into the digital age whilst supporting and keeping the retailers happy -- and with comic sales on the decline, hitting the lowest in years as January 2011 was "the worst seen January to January sales in the last 15 years [the Diamond exclusive era]" comic publishers have been looking for new and different ways to rejuvenate the market that will pique the interest of both old and new fans alike.

The solution to "rejuvenating the comics market" is more often than not big events. Marvel and DC alike have been putting out event after event -- and the numbers show, event books are always the highest selling titles regardless of what fans say they want. And let's face it, comics are a business and money talks, so unless you are buying comic books should you be entitled to an opinion regarding revamps, restructure and industry changes? However, that does not address the piracy issue, so what exactly is the industry doing to counteract piracy?

One example of how the industry has successfully combated piracy came when the FBI shut down HTML Comics, a website which hosted over 5,700 series of comics.

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.

The comic book industry itself has also begun to digitize their comic books making both single issues and trades available for download at discounted prices for a variety of different platforms. Currently, Marvel's digital releases of their comics are inconsistent with the releases of their standard issues. When Marvel initially revealed it's plan to move onto the digital front with Marvel Digital Comics, Marvel's Chief Publisher Dan Buckley cited that Marvel would have a discrepancy of up to six months between the release of the standard issue and it's digital counterpart.

Titles must be in print for at least six months before they will go online, Buckley said.

For example, the first issue of Marvel's X-Force: Sex and Violence (2010) #1, originally published July 14, 2010 is finally being added this week to the Marvel digital comics database on June 30th, 2011 -- that's over a year following the issue's initial release. If you, the consumer, are looking to read digital comics, chances are that you are not going to wait six months to a year to download that issue. You may opt for alternative means to obtain that issue digitally.

One problem with Marvel Digital Comics is that it is not available on multiple platforms either; Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited can only be accessed through Marvel's digital reader on their website. So that means your subscription to Marvel's Digital Comics Unlimited on Marvel.com won't help you, and if you are looking to download Marvel comics onto your iPhone or iPad, you'll have to use the Marvel app.

Within the last year or so DC has shifted their focus to digitize their comic books as well. This September, as part of DC Comics' "revamp," the publishing house will be launching same day digital releases of all of their comic books. Consumers will have the opportunity to purchase either a poly-bagged issue of the hard copy which for an additional dollar will give you access to the digital version, the standard version of the comic for the normal price, or the digital version for the same price as the standard version. After the first month of availability the price of the title will drop by one dollar.

The question is, will making comic books available for download through the publisher at a discounted price deter individuals from pirating comic books, or are the people pirating already lost to publishers? Should people who pirate comic books even be considered customers? Are comics losing the fight against piracy? What do you think of piracy and downloads of books, do you think it's destroying the market?

#1 Edited by EnSabac (40 posts) - - Show Bio

I love my real comics. You have to hold them. I must say that I have in the past I have downloaded comics in my collection just so I don't wreak the ones that I have on the shelf.

#2 Posted by carnivalofsins00 (938 posts) - - Show Bio

This may be a bit off topic, but when I went into the LCS yesterday to pick up my books, one guy went to USM and since it was polybagged, grabbed the blank variant and literally flipped to the last page and then put it back. I know it happens all the time, but come on.

#3 Edited by subrandom (3 posts) - - Show Bio

I still buy real comics, i love real comics but i also would love to buy digital comics. However, waiting well over 6 months for issues to become available is pathetic. Diamonds lock on retailers has really f***ed them over and the profit margins are too small for them to overstock issues.

So what happens? i read a review of an issue two days after it is on sale and then cannot find it anywhere. Because the shops i go to may not be able to reorder the issue i may not ever be able to read that issue. Because there is a huge hole in digital sales i can't legally buy it. So piracy makes a lot of sense in light of then being able to be caught up on the series that i will continue to buy. Do people do this? sure but most just pirate everything which hurts the entire industry.

I think if you look at movies, music, tv and even books making digital content available cheaper and as easy as pirating will cause people to actually spend money. This is why i think the DC digital comics initiative is a great litmus test for this type of model. It might fail but at least we would have valid data instead of data showing 8 month old marvel comics not being purchased digitally.

#4 Posted by roboticjesus (71 posts) - - Show Bio

I don't think digital same day releases are the answer. People who are currently reading pirated comics will continue to do so because its free and they don't want to pay no matter if its a lower price. I think 90% of the people who read pirated comics are unaware of how it is hurting the industry. They could be putting the writers and the artists they love out of business.

#5 Posted by cobra88king8 (345 posts) - - Show Bio

Well part of the problem I've always personally had is that there are no comic book stores besides a Borders in my area. Instead of pirating though I just never really got into keeping up with comics besides reading one or two trade copies when they came in but still it was never really the same. Now that a comic book shop opened up where I'm going to college I've been able to read to my hearts content

#6 Posted by DKing_CiCADA (340 posts) - - Show Bio

This upsets me =/ 

#7 Posted by doordoor123 (3721 posts) - - Show Bio

I know people that pirate torrents but they also buy a sh*t ton of comics.  
I do think that its wrong though. I think its because of the economy that pirating has become so popular.  
Lets face it, people dont have money.
#8 Edited by GundamHeavyarms (701 posts) - - Show Bio

I had no idea comics were pirated like manga was.  I always thought they had a tighter hold on security but I guess they don't. 

#9 Posted by GraveSp (318 posts) - - Show Bio

I tried to download older comics once it but it took to long.  Although I also used to sit in Barnes and Noble and read tpbs all day without buying one 

#10 Posted by tomzoid13 (28 posts) - - Show Bio

I know of a high school student who used to love comics. But after Secret Invasion, he completely gave up on comics. But because of pirating, he was able to catch up on what he missed and is now spending like 20 bucks a week on comics. I think pirating should only be used when people can't afford to catch up. That's my view.  Like he also got into Green Lantern and Walking Dead thanks to it. So pirating isn't all bad but still pirating is not a good thing

#11 Posted by Nova`Prime` (4165 posts) - - Show Bio
@roboticjesus said:

I don't think digital same day releases are the answer. People who are currently reading pirated comics will continue to do so because its free and they don't want to pay no matter if its a lower price. I think 90% of the people who read pirated comics are unaware of how it is hurting the industry. They could be putting the writers and the artists they love out of business.

That's kind of a false statement, tests and studies have shown when places like Netflix and Hulu started to offer same day downloads for newly released movies, or tv shows (in the case of Hulu) that pirating actually went down because there are a lot of people who would rather pay because its more conveniant then searching through a P2P or a torrent for the specific item you are looking for and you, normally, don't have to worry about a virus or something damaging to your computer through a legitimate service.
 
Does it stop piracy of that medium no, but there is no real way to stop it. If the publisher decides not to make a digital copy, that's not going to stop someone else from doing it and putting it out there. So the company should be trying to make as much money as they can by releasing digital content. That's one reason why many DVD/BluRay discs come with a digital copy, because it encourages people to buy and share with their friends.
#12 Posted by doordoor123 (3721 posts) - - Show Bio

And actually I dont think a lot of people know about pirated comics. But 15% of comic readers is a big percentage I guess.

#13 Posted by JonesDeini (3620 posts) - - Show Bio

Too late? That's an understatement. The big two and the comics industry as a whole has been blitzed so bad that it makes Hitler's invasion of Poland seem like a casual, and polite knock on the door. I know guys who read about 3/4 times as many comics as I do but haven't purchased an issue since the invention of the torrent. You go digital stuff get's stolen, just the way life goes. Hell, as long as scanners can digitize your physical product you should be prepared to take a loss. I'm an avid manga reader...how much of it do I buy? None of it lol And to think of all the translation and fixes people have to do on that? Yet there's whole dedicated creative teams who handle it week in and week out. Now imagine how much easier it is to shoot the latest copy of Spider-Man to the net?

#14 Posted by Topher5151992 (138 posts) - - Show Bio

I have never bought comics in print. I got in to comics through digital comics, and I still pay for them. I don't understand people justifying piracy when it doesn't help keep the industry running. Don't the writers, artists, editors, etc deserve to be paid for their work? 
#15 Posted by subrandom (3 posts) - - Show Bio

@tomzoid13 said:

I know of a high school student who used to love comics. But after Secret Invasion, he completely gave up on comics. But because of pirating, he was able to catch up on what he missed and is now spending like 20 bucks a week on comics. I think pirating should only be used when people can't afford to catch up. That's my view. Like he also got into Green Lantern and Walking Dead thanks to it. So pirating isn't all bad but still pirating is not a good thing

That's one of the biggest problems with calculating the cost of piracy. It happens plenty in software because often people count every pirated copy as a lost sale when in reality it may more directly result in a zero sum. A lot of people pirate stuff when they are in college and broke and when they get out buy stuff because they have the extra money. However, when you face this high a volume its pretty easy to assume most are pirating rather than paying for anything.

#16 Edited by Morbus (63 posts) - - Show Bio

I spend about 200 to 400 USD a month on PREVIEWS orders. I have the dispensable cash in which to make large purchases, even double-buying TPBs of comics that I have and own the single issues of. I'd say about half the amount of every order is single-issue comics.

I also do grab questionable digital copies of comics, but have also evaluated the various official digital alternatives available. Comixology (and the like) aren't winners because they don't offer day-and-date, every comic I'm interested in, or entire series' runs. They're not stocking the shelves with what I want. Even when they do have a comic I'm interested in, I really really really hated the lame ass panel animations - that's not how I want to read a comic, and most comic pages are laid out *as a page*, not necessarily as a panel.

Marvel Comics has an interesting approach - I've called it the "Netflix of comics" because of the monthly fee vs. the issue fee. But, again, it's not stocking the shelves with what I want.

I *will* be ordering some DC digital comics (and note that I've already preordered PREVIEWS "one of every new 52" line item, as well as an extra copy of the bundled JLA with digital code). But, quite frankly, if DC doesn't offer me the same capabilities that I get with digital comics of other more nefarious avenues, it's not going to fly. I don't want panel animations. I don't want to BUY ACCESS to comics, I want to BUY COMICS. Unless DC gives me a digital *copy* of the comic, that I can archive and store forever (like I do with my physical comics), I just don't trust that I'm not going to get screwed ten years from now when I want to reread a comic. And if anyone's been following my Twitter account or ComicVine lists, I *love to reread comics*.

#17 Posted by Decept-O (7277 posts) - - Show Bio

Undoubtedly one of the best written and informative articles on this site to date.  A lot to take in but necessary for any comic book reader to learn.  Nicely done.  
 
I have to say, piracy is just another term for stealing.  Stealing is just that...stealing.   It isn't justifiable for comics.  Too many people put a lot of effort into their work, and to have even a portion of it stolen is not right.   
Yes, comic book prices are high, and I gripe about that quite a bit, but I am still willing to plunk what little scratch I have for something of interest.  I won't go out of my way to steal it, that's just asinine.  Hard to say how to really prevent this, making things available digitally has presented new challenges.  I am slowly warming up to the concept even if I may never purchase anything in this format it is an additional way for readers to obtain comics.   It is just sad that some would go out of their way to pilfer digital comics without paying for them. 

#18 Posted by azza04 (1503 posts) - - Show Bio

I love how everyone's going "I only download pirated sometimes...." Yeah that makes it better >_>

LMAO

#19 Posted by Luke Danes (37 posts) - - Show Bio

I´m spending 250 to 300 Euro every month on us-comics.
 
Comics have to be real and not virtual. If comics would go just digital, i would stop reading.

#20 Posted by KillerZ (1608 posts) - - Show Bio

I'm guessing wildly here, but I think most of the comic-pirates are abroaders (to you Americans). For example in my country only best sellers are ordered in, and some rarely translated. So we need to resort to e-stores, with are expensive and plus we get the postal fee. but still I'm not backing the pirates, if you like something cough up some dough.

Moderator
#21 Posted by DaMacGuy (14 posts) - - Show Bio

When I first started collecting comics in the 70's I just piled my comics in the corner. I quickly started bagging and boxing them. By the time I started college, like many comic readers/collectors, I had several (almost 20) long boxes of comics. While they stayed at home through college I had to start lugging them around with me afterwards. Eventually they succumbed to a natural disaster and were mostly destroyed. 
 
Now that I'm older I have more disposable income. I'm more than happy to pay for my comics - but I want them digital for all the obvious benefits. I don't have to worry about transporting or losing them again. I want to be able to make a copy of them that I can backup. I don't want to lease them - if I stop my subscription I want to keep what I've read. I don't want what I've paid for to suddenly disappear if I need to download it again at a later date because the publisher lost the rights to it, or doesn't sell it anymore. I want to read my comics where and when I want, on the device I want. I still enjoy paper comics, but I can't bring myself to trash them, and the resale value isn't like it was in the old days. I'm not going to get trapped into the bagging and boxing addition again. Oh no. *grin* 
  
So, since I'm mostly a DC guy, I'll gladly start buying the digital downloads in September. But if they don't meet most of my criteria then I'm going to look into the pirated copies on-line while I happily continue to pay for the official digital versions that I may not even use. I want the publishers to profit, but I want my convenience.

The comic industry is finally realizing what the Movie industry, TV industry, Music industry, and even the newspaper industry, all to different degrees, have already learned. If you don't provide your product in a format acceptable to consumers, consumers will find a way to get your product in the format they want. Or consumers won't bother with your product at all. 
 
It's nice to see that they're at least trying. 
 
Now, if we can get kids to stop playing computers games all day. maybe they'll buy more comics. ;-)

#22 Posted by yeopop (631 posts) - - Show Bio

Piracy has no respect for anything.

#23 Posted by The Mast (788 posts) - - Show Bio

There's absolutely no excuse for pirating leisure items. "I can't afford it!" Then you don't deserve to own it. 
 
I'd love to own a lot of things I don't have the money for, but it doesn't entitle me to steal them. If you possess something you should've paid for, the company or person has lost one sale. It doesn't matter whether you would've bought it or not if you couldn't steal.
 
The comics industry, as the music industry is, is broken. It needs to be fixed. It won't GET fixed if people are damaging it more by stealing, using the broken industry as an excuse.
 
Comics have the edge because the feel of a digital comic or stolen copy is vastly different to actually reading one, people know this. Music has a harder battle to fight because a stolen MP3 and bought CD have no difference.
 
I don't pirate any music or any comics. I never have and I never will. Most anti-piracy articles I've read are written by people who have pirated before or still pirate now. Not suggesting Sara does, but piracy is so entrenched that you can't throw a stone without hitting a hypocrite in the debate.
 
-The Mast

#24 Posted by sergyanime (103 posts) - - Show Bio

Piracy can actually boost sales. I won't go in to detail but it's what got me buying comics. Its what gets a lot of people I know to buy music and other things. It's just the mind set of a pirate. Some are like why buy I have it for free where others use it to sample things and see if its worth the buy. It's like getting a demo or getting the full game by renting it then afterwards buying it if it was wroth the read if not then you just wasted a few minutes of your life. 

#25 Posted by WilliamHenry (24 posts) - - Show Bio

Good article but pirating is not theft, its copyright infringement. Pirates make an unauthorized copy of something, they don't take the original and leave the owner with nothing. Illegal downloading has been an issue for 10 years, how is that people still don't know its not theft?

#26 Posted by Luzhell (31 posts) - - Show Bio

I have always believed that piracy in general is a disservice for both the industry and the customers. The industry loose money and the customers receive and inferior product. 
But we most recognize that there are people who has no more choice that pirate comics. I live in Costa Rica, and like in many places of the world, the comic book industry totally ignore the market here. There are only 3 stores in the entire country where one can purchae official comics, and they are at least 15 days behind the publishing date in the US and twice the price. 
Of course people in countries other than the US have different priorities with their money than buy comics, so it's only natural that hardly anyone would buy one legally. 
I said this not to say that piracy is good, but outside the US is not only justifiable, but it is the only way to get comics.

#27 Posted by Shaunw1973 (39 posts) - - Show Bio

It's wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong. 
 
Simple as that. 
 
The pirates that do this won't have anything to read if the comic publishers all go bust. Those of us that buy comics legitimately are propping these bastards up.

#28 Posted by roboticjesus (71 posts) - - Show Bio

dmcomics said it best on Twitter: "Pirates are cool. We need to start calling them what they really are: thieves"

#29 Posted by dorsk188 (236 posts) - - Show Bio

There is nothing stopping Marvel and DC from putting their complete archive online, with a subscription, in super-high-quality scans with editor notes that link to the referenced issues, and even the possibility of special commentary overlaid by writers, artists, editors, and in-house historians.  This kind of service is something I would have bought into when I read a substantial number of comics.  If such a service existed, with access to new issues relatively quickly, I'm sure you could get millions of subscribers for 15 - 30 dollars a month.  I don't know if that service alone could support the industry, or not, though.
 
The problem is: a 32 page comic provides about 30 minutes of content for about 3 dollars.  20 comics = more than 60 dollars for 10 hours of content.  For 60 dollars, you can get a high-end game with 100+ hours of content.  Or, you can just goof off in a forum or surfing online for free and be quite well entertained.  Piracy isn't the primary threat to the comic industry, competition is.  There are only so many hours in the day, and most people would rather not spend money on something if they can be just as easily entertained by some fan-fic or webcomic or YouTube videos of action figures.
 
The comics are great, when the stories are good, but long-running monthly comics may not be a sustainable medium.  Just like soap operas have been getting cancelled lately, comics may be reduced to a more narrow niche, perhaps confined to graphic novels with self-contained arcs.  Or maybe retailers are the problem, and the medium could survive by going completely digital.  The point is: the times they are a changin'.

#30 Posted by CrimsonTempest (307 posts) - - Show Bio

One example of how the industry has successfully combated piracy came when the FBI shut down HTML Comics, a website which hosted over 5,700 series of comics.

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.

 
 
Regarding the HTML Comics scenario, the owner was willing to pay for every comic hosted on his site. How can you vilify that? He even let all the comic book companies know that he was doing this!
#31 Edited by Master_Funk (28 posts) - - Show Bio

I think the industry has to face the fact that the digital market is the future of comics. It has to embrace day and date digital release on all titles if the industry wants to remain relavent for a long time.

Unfortunately atleast where I live in the UK, comic book stores are hard to find. The closest store to me is over an hour away,so now I just wait for the graphic novels to come out.

#32 Posted by tonis (6202 posts) - - Show Bio

I was wondering when you guys were REALLY gonna tackle this one.

Good article Sara.

I think it's REALLY important for people to realize something when it comes to what you buy and why you buy it, especially when you get into 'virtual' property versus 'physical'.

YOU'RE NOT PAYING for something at that point, YOU'RE SUPPORTING IT.

If you like a series and you want to see more, that's why you buy something these days. Not to own the book itself (in the case of digital) but to support the people producing it so they might be able to continue to put out what you want to read.

In the long run, the industry will adapt, just like the music and video industries have but they certainly should not have ignored it for the past 10 years and decided to only address it when it looks like the roofs about to cave in.

I suspect they'll start to adapt subscription based models around content or publishers, characters, etc and eventually you'll have options like netflix or gamefly where you get your comic entertainment in a more rights managed approach that gives the fans the content they want but at the same time provides a royalty based system to make sure the people making things get paid for their work.

It's working for the industries that were facing these same issues before and it's the way to handle it with this industry too. There's always gonna be some who just prefer to actually steal, but I think the real fans are happy to support something as long as it's reasonable to do so and they're happy with what they're being offered.

#33 Posted by CrimsonTempest (307 posts) - - Show Bio
@sergyanime said:
Piracy can actually boost sales. I won't go in to detail but it's what got me buying comics. Its what gets a lot of people I know to buy music and other things. It's just the mind set of a pirate. Some are like why buy I have it for free where others use it to sample things and see if its worth the buy. It's like getting a demo or getting the full game by renting it then afterwards buying it if it was wroth the read if not then you just wasted a few minutes of your life. 
Quoted for truth.
#34 Posted by ltbrd (562 posts) - - Show Bio

bittorrent and piracy is simply a by-product of both technology and financial means. Every time a new event comes out or a new series is started I always read posts, blogs and comments from people worried that they won't have enough money to cover a full series like Flashpoint, Secret Invansion and so on, or that they now need to drop an old series favorite for something new that's getting great reviews. 
 
like every other form of entertainment these days comic books have become expensive to buy in bulk and with more and more titles coming out all the time (or the plethora of mini-series that DC and Marvel are churning out on a constant basis) that interconnect with each other its taking a toll on people's wallet's to keep up. 
 
but low and behold there is a convenient (and free) way to do just that.....bittorrent. Is it illegal? No. Is it wrong? Yes. But it has become an economic necessity. Its easy to blame people point blank for using these sites but in the end the majority don't do it out of spite to the companies....they do it because they couldn't follow the stories any other way. 
 
as was already pointed out DC and Marvel need to go the route of Apple and make digital comics a serious enterprise. It can't be that hard to get these titles out. All comic books today are digitally rendered from what the artist originally draws. They are all scanned in and I'm sure stored on the companies servers. Making these digital copies a mere fraction of the cost of a printed comic would do the exact same thing for comics that Apple did for music. You rarely hear a whimper out of the music industry (aside from the companies that actually make CD's) because all those artists are still making a killing through iTunes profits. Same thing is happening with books through Kindle, Nook and other devices. 
 
DC and Marvel are simply behind the curve on embracing new technology and will continue to lose sales the longer they wait to use it.
#35 Edited by Golden Cod (425 posts) - - Show Bio

This isn't a magic bullet but one remedy would be to make digital comics easier to view.
 
As someone who's tried Marvel's digital comics when they were first introduced, I can say for certain that holding a physical copy is better then working awful zoom controls on a digital copy.   On a paper copy you naturally bring your head closer to look at small text and to admire the illustration details.   On Marvel's digital comic service, you feel like you're either looking through a pinhole camera or at a fuzzy thumbnail because the zoom and pan controls are so clunky.   It's actually worse then viewing a jpg file on a PC or Mac.   
 
If Marvel improved the viewing experience on its digital comics, I think some of the incentive to pirate will be gone.   Marvel already has a decent amount of its library digitzed so all it has to do now is make the experience more enjoyable.
 
I personally don't torrent because it feeds an itch (the need to physically hold a comic) that I won't be able to stop scratching once I start. Thus I make due with browsing character profile updates on comicvine :/
 
 
 
EDIT:   I suspect that a lot of the non-bookcover images shown on Comicvine's character profiles come from torrent scans.

#36 Posted by nobodythere (86 posts) - - Show Bio
I've talked about this several times before. I still buy all my films, CDs and comics (Usually hardcovers and collections), new and refuse to download anything unless I already own it (Sometimes the digital copy is expired when I buy it, very frustrating. I paid for it, I want it, so I go get it). I figure if I expect to be paid for my work (I'm an artist, www.nobodythere.ca) and come down on people when they give me grief for it I had better make sure I don't become a hypocrite and pay other artists for their work as well. This opinion has, more then once, alienated people from me.

I find it very upsetting that so many people today steal from artists and don't feel there is anything wrong with it. In a conversation with Geoff Tate, the lead singer of Queensryche, he was asked what was different about music today. He replied there wasn't anything different about music, it has remained the same. What had changed was how money was made with music. Before the advent of the internet the average new album would be pressed nine hundred to one million times and sent across America to stores, that was an average number. Now they send ten thousand cos no one buys albums any more.
 
 I argue that if I have enjoyed an album, or a song, or a film, whatever; if I have enjoyed the thing then it is worth the ten to fifty dollar price tag, if not then I'll be more careful with that artist next time. The people who worked on it deserve their due and so do I. 
 
Comics are no different, if I enjoyed the story then the people who made it happen deserve thier due for it. It deeply bothers me how so many people look at their entertainment as worthless. It isn't, and if they were deprived of it they'd know it. Every form of entertainment is at risk, not just comics. Lets face it: The amount of artists in it for the sake of making it are few and far between. The amount of people who have the time to create things like movies and comics in their spare time (when not working "real" jobs) is even lower then that. Imagine having to wait more then a month to find out what happens next, or more then two to five years for film, just cos the people making them can't spare the time from working at Walmart to make it happen. 
 
Sad state of affairs. People need to pay for their entertainment, either to enjoy it or complain about how horrible it is. Either way, they are getting something out of it and it isn't worthless.
#37 Posted by Golden Cod (425 posts) - - Show Bio
@dorsk188
 
Marvel has something like this in place.   It probably doesn't have everything (imagine the hours it'd take to scan those archives!)  but it does have a surprising amount.   It's been a few years since I've looked at one of their sample digital comics but last time I checked the service suffered from horrible zooming controls.  
#38 Posted by Xenozoic Shaman (410 posts) - - Show Bio

I'm currently without employment, but pay $25 each month for several issues.  Sometimes I'll buy a TPB or HC, when I find the money.  (Tax refunds, temp work, etc...)  What bugs me is that an acquaintance of mine steals hundreds of comics, movies, and games each month, and never pays for anything.  Last time he mentioned it, his monthly downloads were between 150-200GB per month.  He doesn't have to pay rent, had his college/university paid for him, and lives in his parent's basement, yet doesn't care enough to help support the entertainment he enjoys so much...  Not even a little now and then.     
 
A true game fan, film buff or comic aficionado not only enjoys their form of entertainment, but does their best to support it too.  They want to give back, in hopes that more will come in the future.

#39 Posted by ScarlettLynn (160 posts) - - Show Bio

Access. It's just about access. Immediate access.
 
If I mention a comic on Twitter that I loved, I'll have someone ask me what it's called. Half an hour later they're thanking me for the rec because they loved it. They weren't able to buy it in that time frame because chances are that: a. finding a comic shop in their area isn't exactly as easy as finding a book store, b. the shop wouldn't have an extra copy in stock, c. it's not available for digital download. So I'm going to assume that person just found a torrent because they wanted to read it.
 
Obviously cost plays into it but I honestly think that for a lot of people it's about access. There's no real reason why someone should have to wait 6 months for a digital copy or a year for a trade paperback. It's ridiculous. The technology is there to sell to those who want to buy. If the companies refuse to sell to them then they either choose between not reading comics at all or doing so illegally.
 
Consumers have become accustomed to immediate access to books, movies, television, music. Why wouldn't they expect the same level of access from comic books?
 
Right now, comics are the most difficult form of entertainment to buy. You have to seek out a specialty shop to purchase them or wait for extended periods of time in order to buy them in book form. I can run into almost any store in my area and pick up a new DVD, video game, book and CD all in the same place. I can pop onto iTunes and buy most stuff the same day it's sold in hard copy.
 
Thank goodness DC is finally getting it's act together on this issue because the next time someone asks where they can read the Batman issue I'm discussing I can just post a link to where they can buy it instead of saying "IDK, do you know any comic book stores around you?", them saying "no" and then losing interest or finding a way to download it illegally.

#40 Edited by Xenozoic Shaman (410 posts) - - Show Bio
@CrimsonTempest said:

One example of how the industry has successfully combated piracy came when the FBI shut down HTML Comics, a website which hosted over 5,700 series of comics.

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.

  Regarding the HTML Comics scenario, the owner was willing to pay for every comic hosted on his site. How can you vilify that? He even let all the comic book companies know that he was doing this!
Are you saying that he offered to pay for each time that an individual read one of those comics, or simply the number of issues that he had available? Otherwise, that's just a child's bandaid on a gushing knife wound.
#41 Posted by KRYPTON (1891 posts) - - Show Bio

Piracy is not cool, and people should just buy comics, instead of getting it off the internet. 

#42 Posted by bobtv (81 posts) - - Show Bio

I live in latin america and I've bought comics since I can recall, here there were plenty of titles 10 years ago, but without LCS, just bookstores, there's no continuation of the titles and some skip, others come one month then go forever, that actually hurt the industry for possible new readers that couldn't follow a storyline.  

 I buy what I can here, an order other titles online (the actual books, not digital) but for many people (including me) becomes expensive with the time, and some have found the solution in piracy, saddly. 
 
I'll still buy physical comics, I'm not so into digital, but it's distribution is harder and a lot more expensive than the digital one, I'm now mostly DC, and I have only waiting 5 comics in a list that was a lot wider before, not because I don't like the others, but because the're way off my income.

#43 Posted by AlKusanagi (605 posts) - - Show Bio

I don't even have a local comic shop, so I get all mine as trades, but when I see a 22 page book selling for four bucks, I can totally see why piracy is so big. Where the hell is a kid/non-working teen going to get 40 bucks a week for comics?

How I long for those halcyon days of 75 cent comics...

#44 Edited by The Mast (788 posts) - - Show Bio

Most people pirate because they don't want to pay. It's that simple. It's not inaccessibility, it's laziness.
 
The music industry has made it incredibly easy to legally buy music. Not even CDs, MP3s. Yet people still make excuses.
 
@sergyanime said:

Piracy can actually boost sales. I won't go in to detail but it's what got me buying comics. Its what gets a lot of people I know to buy music and other things. It's just the mind set of a pirate. Some are like why buy I have it for free where others use it to sample things and see if its worth the buy. It's like getting a demo or getting the full game by renting it then afterwards buying it if it was wroth the read if not then you just wasted a few minutes of your life. 

Do you get your rentals for free, then?
 
-The Mast
#45 Posted by ReyGitano (5 posts) - - Show Bio

Wow, I didn't even know comic piracy was a thing, I just assumed the decline in sales was all due to a lack of modern interest in comics. I don't personally know anyone in my life that pirates comics, but then again I also don't know anyone who buys them.

#46 Posted by Technoman (133 posts) - - Show Bio

" originally published July 14, 2010 is finally being added this week to the Marvel digital comics database on June 30th, 2011 -- that's over a year following the issue's initial release." 
No it is not.

#47 Posted by THALASTDRAGON (387 posts) - - Show Bio

It sucks, and it is only further injuring an already hurting industry.  I have and will always prefer physical copies of my comics.  There's nothing like picking the comics off the shelf, or getting them out of your pullbox lol.  I never even purchased a trade until less than 2 years ago.  I have since bought several for questionable titles and if I really like them, I back-issue hunt them such as what I've been doing with Umbrella Academy and what I will be doing with Y: The Last Man.  That doesn't really matter so much for new comics.  
 
But really, this is only one of the many problems with the industry.  There should be a round-table discussion or something featuring people with genuine interest and love for comics.  They should look at comics purely as a medium and not in the sense of this as a business, layout the problems and brainstorm potential solutions.

#48 Posted by Feliciano2040 (654 posts) - - Show Bio

Great article Sara, it's very important that topics like this are always fresh in the minds of comic book readers, our preferred form of entertainment is capitalist, wether we like it or not.
 
That said, I feel I must be frank about something, I download comics throught Bittorrent.  

I live in Lima, Perú, and while this isn't exactly a run down country without access to imported products, it's still a place where it's not really easy to just get your comic books as one would like, I download comics because I feel I shouldn't miss on something just because the importation costs of comics makes the prices boost when I go to buy them at the library, there's a reality here, that comics are expensive in the US, and when they get here, to Perú, they are simply way too costly, and as much as I don't like to get everything for free, I don't feel that I shouldn't enjoy myself, specially when there's the possibility that what I'm reading may turn out to be shit, that is another reality, people are not always shelling out 20 or 30 dollars a week for something they know it's going to be good. 
 
As for myself, even if I could buy them in the US without importation costs, I wouldn't choose too, I like to read collected editions much more, so I'm always trying, as best as I can financially muster, to buy TPB's that I know are good, I really don't want to buy something that can turn out bad, I like Red Sonja for example, but I know that there are collected trades of her stories that just downright suck, and I wouldn't want them in my library, so what is the only form for me to know that I'll be buying something I like and that I can read in the future ? Either by paying it digitally, which I can't because I have no credit card, or I can download it
 
As an example, let's take a look at "War Of The Green Lanterns", I read it, and I hated it, I thought it was a disastrous event that reflected everything that I feel is wrong today with the GL universe, as well as with comic book events, the only thing I was glad about ? I didn't have to pay for it, I would've felt embezzled (sp) if I had to give DC my money away for such a terrible read.
 
I would say to some, including the author of this article, to not fool themselves into thinking that DC is revamping their comic line because torrent downloads have been eating away at their profits, this is a risk they chose to take because they feel they are always getting left behind by Marvel, and they want to be top dog, remember that Marvel is affected in equal measure by the same factors that affect DC, and yet we don't see them doing the same tactic.
 
As I said before, I would prefer to be able to afford my comics and also know that they will turn out good, if we are to change whatever damage bittorrent is doing to the industry, then both Marvel and DC first need to act responsibly and stop acting like casinos, they can't have their costumers gambling weekly for titles that may or may not turn out good, I don't want to gamble, I want to read good comics.

#49 Posted by ThomasElliot (362 posts) - - Show Bio

The problem with piracy is that all industries really have to re-think the idea of 'ownership'.  Letting the consumer buy and own the product works for physical things... a videotape, a CD, a cartridge, a book, etc.   The minute we turned these things into VIRTUAL products, then the whole process behind producing and selling products needs to be reconsidered. 
I still like my physical books, even though I know exactly where to get some pirated books, because I don't have a tablet.  I'm not going to read a comic sitting at a desk or on my flatscreen... and the 4 inch screen on my smartphone is a PAIN IN THE ASS to read a comic on (seriously... zoom IN to read the text, zoom out to see the overall picture, zoom back in to admire details... flip a page and it takes time to load... reading one damn comic takes like an hour!!). 
But say I do get a tablet one day... it might not be an iPad.  Oh, well, sorry, Marvel only has an iOS app right now.  That's the first mistake.  2nd mistake is thinking you're going to sell me a single-issue digital comic for the same price as print.  Do you know what digital means?  that means SKIPPING the publishers.  Skipping the printing presses.  The ink.  The paper.  It means while there still needs to be some money there for artist, writers, producers and then a little for profit, it also means saving on tons of overhead to reduce the cost of that comic book.  Give me a Netflix-style option for a monthly subscription to comics, and I will most certainly sign up. 
Pirating is bad, but one thing I agree with:  If 10 people are stealing and you cut them off, 9 out of 10 are NOT going to go out and buy the product.  They'd rather do without.  It is such a fallacy for any of these industries (games, music, et al) to really think this is lost potential revenue.  It is not.

#50 Posted by dorsk188 (236 posts) - - Show Bio
@tonis said: 

YOU'RE NOT PAYING for something at that point, YOU'RE SUPPORTING IT.

Exactly.  I pay for membership to a few podcasts because I support them and appreciate what they do, even though I could get just as much content without a membership.   The problem the comic industry is: 
  1. They don't listen to their consumers.  It's 2011 and neither big company has a digital library or subscription service that every comic fan has been begging for.  That's just pathetic.
  2. They have to support an entire industry of retailers.  It's a legacy of the old way of doing things, but they'll probably end up going the way of music stores (rare, but sort of awesome when you find them).
  3. They're reflexively inflexible and greedy.  They think every pirated comic is a lost sale, but most pirates will never pay for anything, period.  The industry should stop obsessing over phantom sales that never existed and focus on delivering a better product more effectively.  Music sales have increased despite widespread music piracy.  Movies are doing quite well at the box office despite widespread piracy.  That's because people will pay for good service or a unique experience.
  4. They half-ass their other media properties.  Green Lantern just got a crappy movie that floundered and a mediocre video game that I doubt anyone played.  Thor's movie was good, but got a horrible game attached to it.  These properties could be developed into multimedia intellectual empires, but all these characters are being wasted on schlock.  This isn't directly related to the comic industry itself, but these other media could (and in some cases already do) subsidize the monthly publishing.  Basically: comics inform the other media, and the other media support the comics.
I would be more sympathetic about this issue if the publishers actually acted like they wanted and appreciated people's business.  What was it Joe Quesada said about pissing off the fans?  Something to the effect of "Whether they love it or they hate it, they'll buy the issue to talk about it?"  I haven't read a Marvel comic since then.