Home Comics Scans_Daily shut down; Internet reacts…and reacts

Scans_Daily shut down; Internet reacts…and reacts

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Over the weekend, news broke that the popular LiveJournal community Scans–Daily has been closed down. The community started out as a repository for slash fiction, but has developed into a wide-ranging sampler of all kind of copyrighted comics material — some of it long unavailable, some fresh and new. Although moderators worked to prevent posting complete stories there, those opposed to “pirate posting” sites had a lot to dislike about Scans-Daily.

Brigid Alverson has the most thorough and level-headed round-up of links and so on, including the new home of the site. (Nothing goes away for too long on the Internet.) But there is much more. Writer Peter David had recently found out about the site and was suspected of having “ratted them out”; however, in a message thread that’s up to 500 posts and counting at his blog, he explained he was not responsible. (LJ had shut down the site after Photobucket reported TOS violations.)

We’re not going to get too much into all of this — we posted a few links to S_D here, always to things that were otherwise unavailable, and got shit for it. If you want to wade into the 500+ post thread, go right ahead. The most extreme ends of either side are “stealing is always bad” vs “free sampling is always good” with every shade of gray in-between. Kevin Melrose has more thoughts — as does just about everyone on the internet — while Lisa Fortuner examines the facet that Scans-Daily grew out of female fan interests and what that had to do with its end:

That said, I do think that if Scans_Daily were a male dominated community it would have not been suspended like this. Why? Because I don’t think it would have been on a site like Livejournal. In my experience, that’s where the male-female distinction seems to be. Female fans populate social network sites run by panicky male-dominated corporations who want to make money from selling advertising to women, but don’t really have the brass ovaries to deal with hosting female interaction on the internet. It’s like they expect feathered sugar with a hint of spice and are shocked to discover girls have locker room talk and smoke in the bathroom. Male fan communities seem to be owned and operated by like-minded males, the male-dominated comic company itself, the comic creator who gathers his own fans to his side, or the self-style Pirate King who set up the torrent site specifically for illegal activities and searched around for an ISP that wouldn’t check on him too closely.

Tom Spurgeon makes what seems to be a sensible point:

Creators should have the right to control their works even if the person who wants to usurp that right means no real harm, thinks they know better, actually knows better, supported that creator in the past, or whatever. If you want to support a creator, embrace with seriousness the actions they’ve taken or declined to take when it comes to on-line iterations of their work.


In other words, “Free sampling is for your own good!” isn’t a particularly grown-up response, although it is certainly one that is common in the Internet Era.

More soon, in all probability.

  1. I had no idea that this was, at its core, a grrl power issue.

    So, livejournal is for girls? What about myspace and facebook? I know plenty of guys at all three.

    As for the scanning issue, one assumes it will only get more prevalent as the economy gets worse and fanboys balk at 4 dollar funny books.

  2. Eh, I wouldn’t take Lisa Fortuner’s comments too seriously. Frankly, it never occurred to me that scans_daily was a girl-dominated site. Heck, there was plenty of fanservice for the guys stored up there, too.

    Frankly, that whole rant, which doesn’t seem all that well-thought out, isn’t all that different from some of the less cohesive anti-RIAA rants back when they were killing Napster.

  3. Scans—Daily informed me of the existence of funny/creepy manga. Often involving sentient penii.
    trademark-breaching should come second place to that in terms of deciding of the site should be closed or not.

  4. I agree wholeheartedly with Tom Spurgeon, so someone should check the pilot light in Hell.

    I doubt it’ll happen, but it’s nice to imagine.

  5. Remember the big wanky battle when a lot of men started joining and then got grossed out by all the slashy content? And the moderation team had to be switched up and enforced because scans_daily didn’t tolerate gay bashing or discrimination against female interests?

    Oh, no, because none of you weren’t there.

    So yeah, you’re right, it had nothing to do with girl fandom’s interests and Lisa Fortuner is craaaazy. Even though that too, was right there in the vaunted rules of scans_daily that the thousands of angry ‘how dare they post copyright infringement on the internet’ people are now suddenly so interested in.

    Check please. I’ll back her up even if I am one of those angry LJ girls who are swarming around unhappily about being a dirty icky copyright violater and I got what I deserved.

  6. The community had plenty to do with girl fandom’s interests. The closing of it had nothing to do with those interests, unless those interests include broad copyright infringement.

    And since the community has already resurrected itself elsewhere, any tangible loss to female fandom is pretty negligible.

  7. I was a regular reader of Scans Daily over the last couple of years – if it was a bastion of Girl power, I think I missed it. I saw one of the mods comment someone where else, that the member has gotten to be pretty much 50/50% towards the end – which, of course, is still higher than most comic sites which have their endless “who’d you fuck first Power Girl or batgirl hrrrr hrrr hrrr?” polls.

    As for Peter David – “I did, however, use my wife’s Live Journal account to make my presence known.” – from what I can remember from my brief look at that thread, make my presence know involved stamping his feet a lot.

    As for the wider issue –

    Was Scans Daily breaking the law? clearly (ironically they were closed just before their strictly posting limits on scans went into force)

    Was Live Journal right to shut them down? yes

    However, while I don’t argue with either the provider or the copyright holder taking their action but the overall impact is zero – all of the Marvel and DC’s material is pirated and available on the same day it’s released, 99% of their back issues are already scanned and available. Actually the impact might be more than zero because people who were content to sample the issues and then buy them to check out the rest of the story might just learn to torrent the whole issue and just not bother.

    We can argue about the morality of people stealing those issues all we like but like the music industry, I think comics are just going to have to accept that in the digital age, regarless of the law and the morals, you simply cannot get most people to pay – so you work really hard to get as many people as possible to pay and you have to lump it – because that’s reality.

    Spotify is an interesting example of how the record companies are maybe starting to get it – people can listen to all of your albums as much as they like – for free – but they listen to your ads and they buy them if they want their own copies. It could work the same way for comics (and please let’s not get into “I don’t want to read digital comics”, plenty of people are happy to and you either provide for them or they steal from you – that’s just how it is).

  8. Just like to clarify: “Photobucket complained to LJ” has not actually been proven; it was Peter David’s speculation on the chain of events.

    I consider it unlikely that they did, as PB deals with copyright violation all the time, and don’t have the time or resources to chase down all the people doing it. I think it’s far more likely that someone at LJ noticed that PAD said that he had reported S_D to Marvel, and so they shut the whole thing down to prevent a lawsuit.

  9. I read half the comments on PAD’s blog, then gave up.

    From what I read, Peter David brought a violation of copyright to the notice of the copyright holder, Marvel Comics. (Chain of events murky… conjecture follows) LiveJournal, instead of reviewing each violation notice brought to its attention, instead panics and drops the entire site.

    Some anger over the loss of what one person described as “the demolition of a favorite neighborhood bar”. Debate over what constitutes fair use. Some SDers say half is okay. Some note that other review sites post less than five pages. Many SDers noting that they discovered many interesting comics, which they later purchased in magazine format, at this site.

    For those who have a questions about fair use, go read this comic:
    http://www.law.duke.edu/cspd/comics/pdf/cspdcomicscreen.pdf
    “This book is available under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license.”

    If you really want to dig deeper about copyright, computers, and how money can be made mixing the two, Cory Doctorow is a good place to start:
    http://manybooks.net/titles/doctorowother08content.html
    (Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike License)

  10. When it comes to Mark Engblom, everything somehow turns into an anti- grrl power issue.

    Don’t ever change, Mark.

  11. The fact that people can invest time, passion and energy into creating a work just for people to take it off the internet without paying is extremely demoralising, just as if a waiter in a restaurant worked himself to death on the busiest night of the week just to have all his money taken away from him at the end of his shift.

    Yes I know, new world, new rules, blah-blah … but why is there such a strong push for books to get with the times, to join the digital revolution? For me, the problem with the digital revolution is that almost everything you can think of is already there. If we’re not reading articles and cartoons online, we’re watching YouTube videos and communicating with friends via Facebook, not to mention having to look at a computer screen at the office as well. You can argue that that’s progress and a reality of modern existence, but that doesn’t make it the best way to live life, just as fast food is a reality of modern existence and is definitely not the best type of food to eat.

    Too idealistic? So sue me then, sometimes the world just damn sucks!!

  12. I’d feel a lot more sympathy for David and the people here arguing about demoralizing copyright infringement if Scans Daily actually hosted complete issues rather than just a few panels or pages and commentary. Let’s be clear, it wasn’t a full on pirate site. If you were going to Scans Daily for full issues or stories you were probably very confused. You can argue that it was still illegal and LJ was right to shut it down or that PAD was right to complain, that’s fine, but lets not make it out to be something it wasn’t.

    Now I didn’t visit s_d very often, and I guess they had started to increase the number of pages to up to half of a book, which would indeed be ridiculous. But even when they’re in the legal wrong, there’s better ways to deal with the problem then slash and burn tactics. I know David wants to believe that he and Marvel didn’t have time to do anything, but its a good chance that they’re the ones who spooked LJ. If these fans considered themselves to be championing your comics, why not first try to establish a dialogue. I mean a REAL dialogue with the people in charge, not showing up to rant at the underlings for a few minutes. Why start with a “you are criminals and we will not negotiate with criminals” stance when your “perps” are mostly young fans who either don’t know better or don’t understand the legal forces at play? Why not attempt to work with them rather than angrily write about how the damn kids today are so stupid and amoral and why are they angry its not a real community its just a web site and they’re all criminals and terrorists and why are my sales numbers shrinking? I can guarantee that sending an email saying “hey could you take that down, that’s way too much of my comic and it spoils the story” would have been met with “yes sir! of course sir! can we get you anything else, sir?”

    It’s not really PAD’s fault, I just see it as an ongoing problem where mainstream writers and companies can’t figure out when to take fans and readers seriously and when to ignore them. Its like Bruce Lee said, be like water; adaptable, always changing. You need to know when to flow, and when to crash. The war on scans is just like the war on drugs, only completely meaningless in the real world.

  13. wait! I just want to make clearer that I DO have sympathy for Peter David and others in similar situations, its just that I would be entirely in their camp if it was full on piracy as opposed to this thing.

  14. I think it’s good to consider this was a fan activity. These were fans posting and goofing on comics but they cared enough to do it. For any segment of work posted at the supposed lost revenue, there was a wide demographic exposed to the work and engaged in it to some degree. Would they not be more likely to check in on future non-posted works (like go out and buy more issues) if they were intrigued by what they saw?

    It’s a matter of people figuring out that if you relax and give a little you might get something in return. Radiohead offered up their new album for basically nothing and still saw huge returns and got nominated for a Grammy. NIN followed. Joss Whedon released Dr. Horrible for free online and my guess is that the DVD sales for won’t be too shabby. And now you have a new group of interested potential fans that weren’t there before.

    And the bottom line is that if there was an affordable and competent digital download service for comics this wouldn’t be nearly as big of an issue. These are fan markets creating themselves and being punished instead of capitalized on. Keep on fighting the 21st century, comic industry!

  15. The closing of it had nothing to do with those interests, unless those interests include broad copyright infringement.

    I think, were I not an internet malcontent, that what I’d like to say is: take a look at what powers girl fandom versus what powers boy fandom. Now, why is so much of what girl fandom does illegal due to copyright infringement. Fanfiction, fanart, fanvids, scanning comics…

    (And yes, there are men who make fanart and fanvids and write fic, but it’s a well-known fact that there’s a VERY LARGE gender gap in those activities.)

    Is it because women are inherent jerkoffs who want to steal your IP?

    Or do we have an IP system that has an inherently built in gender bias because women and men have different conceptions of community and property rights. I think that’s the question we need to start asking because the big corporations have already given up policing fanfiction, and are on the verge of doing the same for fanvids…

    I’d also like to know why I made less money than a man, and why when I do and want to spend it, it’s icky girl money, but that’s… you know, I’m 24 and I’ve read comics since I was 13, and I don’t know if we’ll ever get to the day when the Big Two take my complaints seriously. My money is fine if they wash it though.

  16. I’m amazed at the sense of entitlement some people here seem to have.

    The simple fact is, what Scans Daily was doing was wrong. They had no right to post scans of copyrighted work. It’s as simple as that. Yes, there is such a thing as “fair use,” but that typically applies to criticism, reviews, scholarship, teaching, etc., and then only in very limited amounts. This was not, by any stretch of the imagination, a fair use issue.

    Just because you have the ability to do something doesn’t mean you have the right to. Those comic pages were not the property of the people posting them. The owner of a copyrighted work has every right to determine when, where, how, and in what fashion that work is presented. Just because you have access to a computer or a scanner doesn’t give you the right to appropriate the copyright holder’s rights.

    And yes, I’ve heard the whole, “it’s a new world” argument, which appears to me to be nothing but a bunch of non-creative fanboys rationalizing their actions. For everyone that complains that SD wasn’t doing something wrong, I dare you to go out and create and publish something of value and then see how you feel when someone rips it off.

    Also, it doesn’t matter who turned it in, or whether SD was a guy’s site, a girl’s site, or anything else. That’s all just a smokescreen. SD was hijacking the legitimate rights of copyright holders and got rightfully busted. End of story.

  17. I’m amazed at the sense of entitlement some people here seem to have.

    The simple fact is, what Scans Daily was doing was wrong. They had no right to post scans of copyrighted work. It’s as simple as that. Yes, there is such a thing as “fair use,” but that typically applies to criticism, reviews, scholarship, teaching, etc., and then only in very limited amounts. This was not, by any stretch of the imagination, a fair use issue.

    Just because you have the ability to do something doesn’t mean you have the right to. Those comic pages were not the property of the people posting them. The owner of a copyrighted work has every right to determine when, where, how, and in what fashion that work is presented. Just because you have access to a computer or a scanner doesn’t give you the right to appropriate the copyright holder’s rights.

    And yes, I’ve heard the whole, “it’s a new world” argument, which appears to me to be nothing but a bunch of non-creative fanboys rationalizing their actions. For everyone that complains that SD wasn’t doing something wrong, I dare you to go out and create and publish something of value and then see how you feel when someone rips it off.

    Also, it doesn’t matter who turned it in, or whether SD was a guy’s site, a girl’s site, or anything else. That’s all just a smokescreen. SD was hijacking the legitimate rights of copyright holders and got rightfully busted. End of story.

  18. Tori, I dare you … I double-dog dare you … to post your ideas on gender-bias IP over on Colleen Doran’s A Distant Soil blog.

  19. “…women and men have different conceptions of community and property rights.”

    Can you point me at something somewhere on the net I can read (rather than gum up the Beat’s comments section) that makes this sound sensible to me?

  20. Tori,

    I get what you’re saying, and while I do think there are huge gender gaps in fandom and community based networking, and how women in fandoms are treated…copyright infringement is a whole other issue. Creators and copyright holders need to be vigilant and, in some ways, unbending about it. The amount of stealing going on is downright epidemic and, whatever else, a lot of posts on Scans were in direct violation of copyright and fair use. And so are a lot of other sites. The fact that other sites, which may or may not have more male users, also violate copyright, isn’t really relevant. It doesn’t change the legitimacy of the complaints against Scans. Should they be shut down too? Yes. I suspect quite a few of them will find themselves in a similar position shortly.

    From my understanding, fair use requires that only a small amount of work be presented (something like 10%, which for a comic would be about 3 pages) and that it needs to be in the context of a review or similar piece. Whether it encourages people to buy, or discourages people to buy, is an argument that can be made equally as there’s absolutely no hard data one way or the other. For every anecdotal story about someone who then went and bought a book, there’s one for someone who didn’t. And, again, it’s irrelevant in regards to copyright.

    I wholeheartedly agree that DC and Marvel and all other companies need to look at the digital arena. And they are. But they can’t just throw up their hands over copyright infringement. And we shouldn’t want them to. As much as we may admire the works of others, want to share them, or pay homage to them…creators and copyright holders need to retain control over how and when their work is presented. It’s that simple. As someone who works with comics creators regularly, it’s incredibly important for the industry. And as an artist myself it’s an issue that’s important personally, as well. The works I create are part of my livelihood. They represent more than just an abstract idea, but years of schooling, a desire to create, and maybe most of all…my time. It’s difficult enough to make something even close to approximating a living via creative endeavors. It’s made that much harder by people taking that work and presenting it (some would say stealing it) without your permission, or in even worse cases, presenting it as their own.

    I don’t doubt that many of the people posting on Scans were doing so with the best of intentions. To share work they liked. And that’s great. They just should have been doing it within fair use and without infringing on copyright law.

  21. It is hard to see this a win against against the evil of copyright-abuse. Not when you can download the whole weekly delivery to a comic shop a day later on a torrent site. Which seem to be unfortunatly untouchable. And yes, peolpe who scan whole issues or books or movies and put them on the net are thiefs.

    You can debate how often SD violated copyright. Where is the difference between any fan-blog posting covers and panels under fair use and SD? I didn´t visit the site often, but when there was new stuff which kind of interested me it was nice to see a few art-samples before ordering it on-line. Or not. Frankly it saved me a lot money.

  22. “creators and copyright holders need to retain control over how and when their work is presented. It’s that simple.”

    But it’s gone, it’s over there is no control. Creators and copyright holders can assert control when dealing with other legal entities but no longer with the wider world. The only thing left is to try and maximise the number of people who are providing revenue to you, because you simply can’t stop or control those who don’t want to pay you, so it’s not even worth thinking about, because that battle was lost before it was fought.

    Is that a good thing? no of course it isn’t but you either deal with how the world actually is or you scream into the night.

  23. “I’m amazed at the sense of entitlement some people here seem to have.”

    And I’m amazed that you still haven’t figured out what’s REALLY being debated, because it sure as hell isn’t about some misplaced sense of ‘entitlement’.

    Legalities aside, scans_daily was in essence a SOCIAL NETWORKING SITE, and the awkward circumstances over it being shut down temporarily are the real issue here.

    Even though David may have thought he was acting in his or his publisher’s best interests, his ‘bull in a china shop’ activities in this case have inadvertently put himself in the middle of an Internet firestorm that won’t likely go away anytime soon.

  24. John,

    I’d be careful with the differences between right and wrong, and legal and illegal.

    You begin by saying, “The simple fact is, what Scans Daily was doing was wrong,” and then proceed to argue that what SD was doing was illegal. There is little to no question that SD was violating copyright law, but to saw that makes SD wrong is not as clear. Things such as the Free Culture movement complicate the argument about right and wrong in internet piracy cases (which is really what this is), and make clear distinctions less black and white.

    I would just argue that it’s wise to stick with legal terms, which are easier to discuss, and to stay away from moral and ethical terms, which are more nuanced, and which some people may have legitimate reasons to disagree with.

  25. “The simple fact is, what Scans Daily was doing was wrong. They had no right to post scans of copyrighted work. It’s as simple as that. Yes, there is such a thing as “fair use,” but that typically applies to criticism, reviews, scholarship, teaching, etc., and then only in very limited amounts. This was not, by any stretch of the imagination, a fair use issue.”

    So if you want to strictly adhere to that. We need to clean it all up. All the fan fics, fan art scattered all over place like DeviantART (they don’t own the characters so they shouldn’t draw them! no matter that they aren’t profiting from it or might actually be promoting their characters for them), or even say all the pros that sell commission work at cons or online of Big Two characters. Get rid of all those secondary markets where say people are selling their old Batman comics and making money off of it. That’s people making money on Batman that aren’t DC! Take down all the fan sites because they are blatantly thumbing their noses at the pros by celebrating (raping!) those characters they have no right to be handling. Do an image search at Google for oh say “Superman”. All those people need to be dealt with too because you know 99.9999% of those sites hosting those Superman images aren’t DC. Then there are toy customizers. Making their own toys of characters they don’t own. Wrong! Fan films. Wrong! If you want to get really strict on this high ground of ownership vs. fans there’s a LOT of work to be done.

    “For everyone that complains that SD wasn’t doing something wrong, I dare you to go out and create and publish something of value and then see how you feel when someone rips it off.”

    I HAVE created my own comic and am looking for the right venue where I can offer it as a free download so I can maybe build an audience for future issues. It also has a Noncommercial Share-Alike Creative Commons license stamped on it which encourages others to remix, share and participate in the work as long as they don’t profit from it. Because I fully understand that’s the way progressive minded companies are going to involve their customers in the future. Engage your fanbase instead of treating them like they are your worst enemy.

  26. KET says:

    “And I’m amazed that you still haven’t figured out what’s REALLY being debated, because it sure as hell isn’t about some misplaced sense of ‘entitlement’.

    Legalities aside, scans_daily was in essence a SOCIAL NETWORKING SITE, and the awkward circumstances over it being shut down temporarily are the real issue here.”

    No, they’re not. SD wasn’t shut down due to social networking. It was shut down because they were illegally posting scans of copyrighted work. You can try to minimize that as much as you want, or try to ignore that fact all together, but that is most assuredly the issue.

  27. Ben says:

    “There is little to no question that SD was violating copyright law, but to saw that makes SD wrong is not as clear. Things such as the Free Culture movement complicate the argument about right and wrong in internet piracy cases (which is really what this is), and make clear distinctions less black and white.”

    I disagree. Where is the right in denying creators their rights and their abilities to profit from their work? IMO, the Free Culture Movement is absolutely wrong. How dare anyone say they have a right to distribute or modify my creative work? I’m sure you wouldn’t agree that I had a right to walk into your house and take your TV, claiming that just because I had a truck big enough to cart it away that I had a right to take it. What’s the difference?

    Intellectual property is still property, whether or not there’s a tangible “thing” to steal. I find it interesting that this is the same comic’s fandom that is regularly incensed over, say, Marvel’s treatment of Jack Kirby in regards to not returning all of his original art. By the line of reasoning offered here, not only was it OK to deny Kirby the return of his art, but that art should have been distributed freely to everyone who wanted it. That doesn’t make one bit of sense to me. Either you support creator’s rights or you don’t. This argument seems to be primarily about people who want something for nothing.

    There are plenty of reviewers that are able to discuss a particular comic without illegally distributing scans of the interior pages. There are plenty of sites and forums that are capable of discussing comics without infringing on a copyright holder’s rights. SD was wrong in every sense of the word, and I’ll stand by that opinion.

  28. Fanboy Menace says:

    “So if you want to strictly adhere to that. We need to clean it all up. All the fan fics, fan art scattered all over place like DeviantART (they don’t own the characters so they shouldn’t draw them! no matter that they aren’t profiting from it or might actually be promoting their characters for them)”

    Both DC and Marvel have made a practice of, for example, shutting down eBay auctions of sketches based on their characters in the past, and I’m sure they will continue to do so. You’re right that it’s a widespread phenomenon, but that doesn’t make it right, nor does it justify anyone who infringes on copyright. You would never justify murder by saying, “well, other people are doing it and getting away with it, so it must be all right.” What’s the difference.

    “or even say all the pros that sell commission work at cons or online of Big Two characters. ”

    As I understand the situation, both DC and Marvel allow and encourage this practice, especially since it’s a one-to-one, creator-to-fan, activity. If one of those creators were to market, say, a print of Spider-Man, I think you’d see a very different reaction from Marvel.

    “Get rid of all those secondary markets where say people are selling their old Batman comics and making money off of it. That’s people making money on Batman that aren’t DC! ”

    I’m sure you realize that this isn’t the same situation at all. A comic book is a commodity, and once you own a commodity, you can sell or trade it as you like. That’s a far cry from posting scans of that comic on the Internet. The same with toy customizers. If you’re doing that as a hobby, and not marketing a line of toys based on copyrighted characters, you’re in the clear as far as the law is concerned. Let’s try to stick to the real facts here.

    “I HAVE created my own comic and am looking for the right venue where I can offer it as a free download so I can maybe build an audience for future issues. ”

    That’s great, and I hope you’re very successful. As the creator, you have every right to determine how your work is distributed. If you chose to share it freely with others, that’s entirely your right. Why would you deny the right of self-determination to others just because they don’t happen to follow a business model that you favor? Perhaps free distribution is the way of the future, and perhaps not. The fact is, though, that’s not the way it is now, and simply breaking the law isn’t going to help to change things.

  29. John Petty wrote:

    Both DC and Marvel have made a practice of, for example, shutting down eBay auctions of sketches based on their characters in the past, and I’m sure they will continue to do so. You’re right that it’s a widespread phenomenon, but that doesn’t make it right, nor does it justify anyone who infringes on copyright.

    I’m guessing you haven’t checked out eBay’s “Comics > Original Comic Art >Drawings, Sketches” section lately.

    The problem I have with some comic book creators is the double-standard they seem to have when it comes to intellectual property. They are all for coming down on people that post images of their work without any type of financial gain, but they themselves seem to think nothing about charging someone hundreds of dollars for artwork featuring characters they don’t own the rights to. Why is one thing morally wrong, while the other isn’t? IP theft is IP theft, right? Why is it when it’s done for financial gain, it’s somehow OK?

    And it’s not only a one-to-one, creator-to-fan, activity. There were quite a few artists on the sales floor selling mass produced prints of comic book characters they do not own the rights to.

  30. Rick Rottman says:

    “I’m guessing you haven’t checked out eBay’s “Comics > Original Comic Art >Drawings, Sketches” section lately.”

    Sure I have. And anybody involved in the original art hobby knows that both DC and Marvel occasionally go on a spree of shutting down auctions. It’s not a regular thing, but they do it frequently enough that they can show they’re protecting their copyright.

    “Why is one thing morally wrong, while the other isn’t? IP theft is IP theft, right? Why is it when it’s done for financial gain, it’s somehow OK?”

    No, it’ OK when the copyright holder says it’s OK. As I said, my understanding is that both Marvel and DC have a long-standing policy of supporting these creator-to-fan activities. That’s their right, and it’s not analogous at all to what SD was doing.

  31. John Petty wrote:

    No, it’ OK when the copyright holder says it’s OK. As I said, my understanding is that both Marvel and DC have a long-standing policy of supporting these creator-to-fan activities. That’s their right, and it’s not analogous at all to what SD was doing.

    Can you show me any proof of this anywhere? Has DC or Marvel ever publicly said it was OK for artists to create artwork based on their properties? Turning a blind eye is not the same thing as condoning it. The same could be said about scans_daily. Neither company told anyone from scans_daily to stop posting images of their properties. Just because they turned a blind eye to it over the years doesn’t mean they ever said it was OK.

  32. Rick Rottman says:

    “Can you show me any proof of this anywhere? Has DC or Marvel ever publicly said it was OK for artists to create artwork based on their properties? Turning a blind eye is not the same thing as condoning it. The same could be said about scans_daily. Neither company told anyone from scans_daily to stop posting images of their properties. Just because they turned a blind eye to it over the years doesn’t mean they ever said it was OK.”

    No, I can’t show you any proof, as I said this was my understanding. Besides, I think there’s a difference between creating an original image of a character and posting scans of a comic book. One is a creative act, and the other is not. If you look at the laws regarding Fair Use, you’ll see that it makes a distinction between newly-created works of art based on an original property and the simple pirating of a copyrighted work. In fact, courts have upheld this difference many times. The artist who does a drawing of Batman, for example, at a convention is creating a wholly new work. The person who posts sans on a website like SD is not. Selling a drawing of Batman does not, in most cases, diminish the value of Batman to DC. Posting scans of a comic DC is trying to sell does.

    And none of this changes the fact that what SD was doing was incontrovertibly wrong. Whether or not you support the current copyright laws, there’s really no arguing that SD broke them. Yes, you can cite many other examples of individuals and groups breaking the same law, but that doesn’t justify what SD did. Plenty of people commit murders every day, but that doesn’t make it right. The question is very simple: do you support the rights of creators to profit from their creations or don’t you? Do you believe in the concept of intellectual property, or do you believe that you somehow have a right to the fruits of my labors?

  33. John Petty wrote:

    The question is very simple: do you support the rights of creators to profit from their creations or don’t you? Do you believe in the concept of intellectual property, or do you believe that you somehow have a right to the fruits of my labors?

    Fruits of your labors? Don’t take this the wrong way, but I have no idea who you are or what fruits you are producing. I’m fairly certain I have not infringed on your fruits.

    As far as what I support or don’t support, I support consistency. For instance, if someone is going to report an online comic book community for posting a few images to the legal department of Marvel Comics, I would also expect them to report one of their fellow comic book professional s who is selling unauthorized, unlicensed prints of Doctor Strange at a comic book convention.

    I just think there is a double-standard when it comes to intellectual property in the world of comic books.

  34. Rick Rottman says:

    “Fruits of your labors? Don’t take this the wrong way, but I have no idea who you are or what fruits you are producing. I’m fairly certain I have not infringed on your fruits.”

    Don’t be ridiculous, Rick. I’m sure you know I was speaking in general terms. The question still remains: do you support the rights of creators to profit from their work or don’t you? Do you believe in the concept of IP or not?

    “I just think there is a double-standard when it comes to intellectual property in the world of comic books.”

    There’s really not. I’d recommend you do a little reading on Fair Use so that you can understand what it is and isn’t. Besides, “consistency” isn’t the issue here. SD’s flagrant disregard for copyright law is.

  35. I further demand that for the sake of consistency all rigid exhortations for fake-legal consistency must involve Doctor Strange.

  36. Charles,

    No, it isn’t. And while you may not be able to control every time someone steals your work, you still have to call out copyright infringement when you see it. Artists have to do this all the time via copyrighting AND trademarking their work. It gives them legal recourse they wouldn’t otherwise have, and it can be extremely important in cases of outright work theft where profits are involved. Many artists have won large cases in this way and it sets precedent.

    Just because something happens a lot, or will happen, doesn’t mean you just give up. You do what you can and you try to teach people the difference between right and wrong. We teach kids not to plagiarize in school…we should be teaching them this as well.

  37. The defense of scans daily is just the usual entitlement by the anonymous do nothings who want the world to provide them with free content.

  38. “Many artists have won large cases in this way and it sets precedent. ”

    Generally against other legal entities – best of luck getting some money out of jumnu85 who operates his torrent site/DC++ site whatever out of thailand.

    Yes, I understand that artists have to take action but pirate material replicates like a virus – as soon as it’s copied, it’s out there forever regardless of what action an artist tries to take, that’s why you have no control.

  39. Charles Knight says:

    “Yes, I understand that artists have to take action but pirate material replicates like a virus – as soon as it’s copied, it’s out there forever regardless of what action an artist tries to take, that’s why you have no control.”

    So is your point that if something is difficult to control, one shouldn’t even try? Your virus analogy is apt: if a potentially destructive virus is released into the population, public health officials are going to do everything they can to contain and eradicate it. They don’t just throw up their hands and say, “Well, it’s out there now. No sense in doing anything abut it.”

    In the same way that doctors and public health organizations protect us from viruses and diseases, copyright laws are intended to protect creative individuals. Yes, the Internet and the proliferation of pirated material makes this exponentially harder, but that doesn’t justify someone who steals another persons intellectual property, nor does it mean that the rights holder should simply roll over and accept the theft.

  40. ” Yes, the Internet and the proliferation of pirated material makes this exponentially harder, but that doesn’t justify someone who steals another persons intellectual property, nor does it mean that the rights holder should simply roll over and accept the theft.”

    I not advocating rolling over and accepting the theft but the truth is that the theft is now so widespread and so broad that even if, as the copyright, holder, you go after 0.00000000001% of the people ripping you off, you’d be overwhelmed. It’s a horrible horrible thought that someone is ripping you off but from a pragmatic stance, it’s something that creators are simply going to have to get used to.

    And I don’t mean “get used to” in “yahoo sucks to be you!”, I mean get used to in that the business models of the future are going to based around the fact that only a certain percentage will pay for the core product, the comic – so you either have to treat everyone else as invisible *or* you concentrate on adding value via other means – hats, toys,ads whatever and increase revenue that way

    Now most comic creators are not interested in doing that but in five, ten years where e-readers are colour and high quality and a kid can load the whole run of Spider-man onto a device that runs for a week and is comfortable to read on the sofa – well that business plan needs to be worked out or people are going to be shit out of luck.

    Is this is me advocating piracy? no it is, I believe in creator rights and control but I’m not a comic book writer or producer, I’m actually interested in and write about people’s use of innovative and disruptive technology – and the piracy we have now is the tip of the iceberg, because the current generation of devices are particular suitable for mainstream audiences. As soon as those e-readers get cheap and colour – it’s over – well unless you have a business model better than the current one – because in the same way, that most people don’t buy for music, most people will not pay for comics – they will simply steal them. So you have to concentrate on adding value for those who *will* and forget about the rest. or you can spend a lot of time and money chasing them to no real advantage.

    Sure I’d like to see the bastards go to jail but it’s not going to happen.

  41. Copyright protection is going to become the Prohibition of the 21st century.

    All the way back in the mid-1990s, the Republican-controlled Congress actually wanted to try and crack down on “questionable content” on the Internet, even back then – including both pornography and materials that violated copyright – and no less an authority than Newt Gingrich, who WANTED to censor the Internet, told his fellow Republicans that IT SIMPLY CANNOT BE DONE, TO ANY MEANINGFUL DEGREE WHATSOEVER.

    Bear in mind, Newt Gingrich is not some wild-eyed anarchist liberal who thinks that The Wealth Should be Shared – this is a dyed-in-the-wool, Ayn Rand-reading, what’s-mine-is-mine capitalist, and when his fellow conservatives turned to him and asked how they could crack down on those nasty thieves on that newfangled World Wide Web who were snatching potential profits from the mouths of copyright-holders, Gingrich shared their outrage, but nonetheless informed them that NOTHING COULD BE DONE TO STOP IT.

    And this was in the mid-1990s, when the Internet was practically EMPTY, compared to what it is today.

    There are moral and ethical arguments to be made on both sides of the copyright debate, but the fact of the matter is that the morals and ethics make not one bit of difference, because past a certain point, the limit of a worthwhile law is an ENFORCEABLE law, and the main difference between copyright protection and Prohibition is that Prohibition was LIGHT YEARS easier to enforce than copyrights are now.

  42. 1) Marvel, DC, and every other publisher big and small need to set up a dedicated area on their web servers for images. Each image would contain a small legal notice on the image. Reviewers, bloggers, anyone could then link to the image, but not host the image on their own sites. (This allows the copyright holder to control the image, and remove it for whatever reason.)

    2) Each publisher needs to place a boilerplate statement regarding how they view copyright, trademarks, creative individuals, and the larger fan community. On this page should be a contact address (both email and postal) to whomever handles requests for reprints, permission, and other legal niceties.

    3) The Copyright Clearance Center should gather publishers, websites, journalists, librarians, academics, and create an understanding on what amount of a material might be reproduced. It should not be legally binding, but instead be a guideline which entities could then agree to follow. If this works, then you adapt it to other media. Certification would require sites to police themselves, in return for better “fair use” terms. (Five pages instead of two, for example.) Within these guidelines would be procedures for settling disputes.

    4. The Copyright Clearance Center or some such similar organization would create a copyright boilerplate which each contributor to any website would have to agree. Each website would be able to set their own terms regarding any violation of these terms.

    5. Comicbook publishers should standardize their websites so that “PREVIEWS.secondleveldomain.topleveldomain” always links to whatever new titles the publisher wishes to feature. The website would of course be free to duplicate this information on the site’s homepage or elsewhere within.

  43. Charles Knight says:

    “It’s a horrible horrible thought that someone is ripping you off but from a pragmatic stance, it’s something that creators are simply going to have to get used to.”

    Under your scenario, what’s the incentive for a creator to create? If I accept your thesis that I’m just going to have to accept getting ripped off, why would I create anything for your enjoyment? That’s why the copyright laws were established, to incentivize creators to create things that benefit society. This is exactly the debate that was at the center of the movement that resulted in the formation of Image Comics, for example. Those creators wanted to actually own, and profit from, their ideas and creations, rather than signing their work over to a larger corporation. Would you suggest that it’s all right for someone to publish SPAWN without compensating Todd Mcfarlane. Would you tell him that he “just has to get used to it?”

    What’s most disturbing in this thread is how apathetic people are about theft, and how little they seem to care for the rights of artists, writers, etc. Just because something can be done doesn’t mean it should be done. If someone burglarizes your home, do you expect the police to tell you to “just get used to it,” or do you expect them to go out and catch and punish the guilty person? This is no different.

    Perhaps, as someone else in this thread suggested, we have to start by changing people’s attitudes. I assume people are reading this thread on this board because they love comics. Why then do so many seem to approve of stealing from the very creators they seem to support.

    “Just get used to it” isn’t an answer. “That’s just the way things are” isn’t an answer The answer is to do the right thing and not steal from someone else.

  44. Torsten Adair says:

    “1) Marvel, DC, and every other publisher big and small need to set up a dedicated area on their web servers for images. Each image would contain a small legal notice on the image. Reviewers, bloggers, anyone could then link to the image, but not host the image on their own sites. (This allows the copyright holder to control the image, and remove it for whatever reason.)”

    Torsten, I understand where you’re coming from with this, but this isn’t a reasonable request. First of all, server space costs money. Secondly, even under this plan, the copyright holder wold have no say in how the image is used. You’re putting the onus on the copyright owner, rather than on the person who wants to use the image, and that’s exactly backwards.

    “2) Each publisher needs to place a boilerplate statement regarding how they view copyright, trademarks, creative individuals, and the larger fan community. On this page should be a contact address (both email and postal) to whomever handles requests for reprints, permission, and other legal niceties.”

    Why? The only time I can see doing this is when a publisher has an attitude towards their own copyrights that is different from the prevailing societal attitudes. For example, if you were to publish a comic and decide you wanted it to be freely available for anyone to modify, distribute, reprint, etc., than you need to make that clear. As far as contact info goes, virtually all publishers have someone in Marketing or PR or Licensing or whatever that can grant permission for the use of images and copyrighted material. Again, it’s up to the person who wants to use the material to make the contact.

    “3) The Copyright Clearance Center should gather publishers, websites, journalists, librarians, academics, and create an understanding on what amount of a material might be reproduced. It should not be legally binding, but instead be a guideline which entities could then agree to follow. If this works, then you adapt it to other media. Certification would require sites to police themselves, in return for better “fair use” terms. (Five pages instead of two, for example.) Within these guidelines would be procedures for settling disputes.”

    There’s already such an understanding in place: it’s called the Berne Convention for the Protection of LIterary and Artistic Works, as well as the Copyright Act of 1976. The Copyright Clearance Center can’t establish new rules and regulations that circumvent these laws. And there are guidelines for settling disputes, called a court of law. What else is needed? Again, the onus is on the person that wants to use a copyrighted work to understand and follow these laws.

    “4. The Copyright Clearance Center or some such similar organization would create a copyright boilerplate which each contributor to any website would have to agree. Each website would be able to set their own terms regarding any violation of these terms.”

    Again, all of this is already covered in existing law. Websites don’t get to decide for themselves which laws they’ll follow and which they won’t in regards to copyright, any more than you and I get to decide whether or not we’ll obey the laws based on theft and burglary. If we break those laws, we have to be ready to suffer the consequences.

  45. Am I the only one who finds every argument for the protection of intellectual property and strict enforcement of copyright laws to be laughable?

    It’s like people who actually believe that they can OWN land. It’s only true as long as everyone else BELIEVES it’s true.

  46. John, changing people’s attitude is probably the best solution, but the status quo paints a bleak picture about the nature of (a large portion of) human beings, something I don’t want to believe is true but evidence seems always to the contrary. Left to their own devices and in the absence of laws, it seems like a large chunk of people will break the laws instead of upholding/following what they know is morally right. I shudder to think what would happen if tomorrow governments around the world legalised theft, rape, paedophilia, etc. I hate pessimism but, jeez, can you blame a guy?

  47. “Again, all of this is already covered in existing law. Websites don’t get to decide for themselves which laws they’ll follow and which they won’t in regards to copyright, any more than you and I get to decide whether or not we’ll obey the laws based on theft and burglary. If we break those laws, we have to be ready to suffer the consequences. ”

    and the consequences for the average downloader are … zero. Well not zero but so close to zero to be really really close but really very far way from one. Unless someone alter that, you will see no change in behaviour.

    The moral questions are very interesting but a morality based solution to the problem is going nowhere. People simply don’t believe or don’t care that’s it wrong and no amount of angry words will change that.

  48. John,

    You say that there is no difference between posting scans and stealing a television. I would argue that there is an obvious and fundamental difference. When you steal my television, I don’t have it anymore. When you post a scan online, no one has anything tangible taken away from them. We can talk about hypothetical money that creators are not making, but in terms of actual money, nothing has been lost. Scanning an entire comic is different from stealing a comic from a store. When you steal a comic, you’ve actually taken something. The retailer has lost money, and has less product available for customers. Digital media is not the same as non-digital media, and terms like “theft” blur the distinctions. All of the evidence that SD resulted in fewer sales, or more sales for that matter, are purely anecdotal, making the financial argument difficult one.

  49. Ben says:

    “You say that there is no difference between posting scans and stealing a television. I would argue that there is an obvious and fundamental difference. When you steal my television, I don’t have it anymore. When you post a scan online, no one has anything tangible taken away from them. ”

    I think you’re missing the whole point of intellectual property. An artist or writer, for example, make their living on ideas and the expression of those ideas. When someone uses those ideas without permission or recompense, it dilutes the ability of the creator to make a living from those ideas. Who are you to say that, when scans are posted illegally, nothing has been lost? Certainly, the copyright holder has lost, to some degree, the ability to control the distribution of the work that they own, and that has value.

    Value isn’t only about something you can hold in your hand. The character of Superman, for example, isn’t a tangible thing, but that concept has value to the people who own it. In a very real sense, digital media is exactly like non-digital media, in the sense that someone had to conceive of it and bring it into the world. That person has rights as far as that intellectual property is concerned. Just because you can distribute it doesn’t mean you have the right to.

    I once had someone tell me that if it was on the Internet, it’s in the public domain, which is absolutely ridiculous. That’s the kind of misconception that’s at work here. If I steal your TV, I deprive you of the ability to enjoy it. If I steal your idea (your intellectual property), I derive you of your ability to profit from it. I don’t see the distinction at all.

  50. Petty: “I think you’re missing the whole point of intellectual property.”

    I don’t think he missed the point. The point is irrelevant. Protection of Intellectual Property is a concept that only works if everybody agrees it works. Yes, if you create something, you own it and the right to do what you want with it… but good luck with enforcing anything outside of that.

    Petty, again: “If I steal your TV, I deprive you of the ability to enjoy it. If I steal your idea (your intellectual property), I derive you of your ability to profit from it. I don’t see the distinction at all. ”

    That is incorrect, and I wasn’t going to address this specifically, but I am now compelled by boredom. If someone steals your idea, it actually DOES NOT deprive the creator’s ability to profit from it. It just means other people could potentially profit as well. If you steal a TV, the TV is gone. If you steal a copy of my TV (which is the accurate comparison, for what it’s worth), why should I care? Sony might care, but there’s really nothing they can do about it because they aren’t being deprived of their ability to profit. Their ability to profit is just now limited. There’s a big difference between theft and losing profits, and that’s the core disagreement between downloaders and the people who control the rights to what is being downloaded.

    Downloading is only an issue because it’s done in such a public fashion by such a large number of people. If I make a copy of a cd for my friend, it’s no big deal because nobody knows. If I make a digital copy of a cd and send it to several friends across the country, it’s now the end of the world. I still bought the damn CD and supported the artists. So what if I send it to others who weren’t going to buy it in the first place… there isn’t any lost revenue.

    I can say without a doubt that downloading increases sales because I’m the proof. However, that’s all I’m to say about that. Maybe it doesn’t ALWAYS increase sales, but it DOES increase sales. The only way to prove that it lowers sales is to get someone to admit that “yeah, I was going to buy the album/comic/movie, but I decided to download it instead because it’s free and I don’t want to spend the money despite already knowing I would really enjoy the cd/comic/dvd and liking the people who made it”. Even if you get someone to admit that, downloading isn’t the problem in this case; that particular individual is and just admitted to a potentially actionable activity… despite not actually stealing anything.

    So… good luck with this argument.

  51. I find it interesting that when given an excerpt that discusses scans_daily as a female dominated space, people immediately change the terminology to grrrl/girl power in their denials that gender is a relevant issue.

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