By Bruce Lidl
A number of comics publishers today joined comiXology’s no-DRM initiative, and will start offering their titles without digital anti-copying technology. Comixology’s announcement at San Diego in July that publishers could now distribute DRM-free focused on a small group of early enthusiasts, including Image Comics, Dynamite Entertainment, Zenescope Entertainment, MonkeyBrain Comics, Thrillbent, and Top Shelf Productions. From conversations at San Diego, it was clear a number of publishers at San Diego would be embracing DRM-free digital comics soon, and IDW Publishing, Valiant Entertainment, Oni Press, Fantagraphics Books, Aspen Comics, Action Lab Entertainment, Th3rd World Studios, A Wave Blue World, Blind Ferret Entertainment, Caliber Comics, Creative Impulse Entertainment, Devils Due Entertainment, GT Labs Comics and Kingstone Media have just made it official.
It is not clear to what extent the publishers will be extending DRM-free backup capabilities to the whole range of their titles, or to back issues that were previously distributed with DRM. In a quick scan of offerings Fantagraphics has already made some titles available, including today’s release of Cosplayers #2 and Jim Woodring’s Jim. IDW has made today’s Transformers: More Than Meets the Eye Ongoing #33: Dawn of the Autobots DRM-free but Godzilla: Cataclysm #2 is not. It may be that it will take time to implement the DRM-free option, or it may be that particular deals with license-owners or individual creators do not allow it. Time will tell how far DRM-free gets extended by these publishers.
As a trend, though, the indications are clear that more and more publishers are embracing a flexible approach, giving their customers increased options and autonomy over their comics purchases. The movement is strong among small to medium publishers, but should put some pressure on the Big Two (and Dark Horse) that have so far resisted the call for less restrictions on their crown-jewel intellectual properties.