Friday, August 28, 2015

Piracy Is Inexcusable

This cannot be emphasised enough. 'Piracy' of comics, or films, TV shows, music, games, whatever, is morally wrong. It's also illegal. Yes, I've heard all the excuses about how piracy "helps creators get more exposure" (cobblers!); how people "can't afford to buy every comic they need" (theft is never an option, and 'needs' include food and water, not comics); how they "wouldn't buy it anyway" (yet they like it enough to download a series); how they're "only sampling to see if I like it" (still no excuse for theft)... and so on. All the excuses boil down to the fact that some people just want something for nothing.

Some people might think it's cool to flout the law and gain comics illegally. Hey, they're "sticking it to the man". Except they're not. They're hurting the creators, damaging sales of a comic that publishers might then cancel because they think there's little interest in it, - when in fact thousands of copies are being read illegally. 
One of my favourite British comics at the moment is Surface Tension, written and illustrated by Jay Gunn and published by Titan. It's a fantastic, intriguing story and as the cover and panel sample shown here demonstrates the artwork is stunning. (And a fine example of how UK artists are still in the same league as those of the past.) On the Down the Tubes site today, Jay Gunn has written a passionate and important post about how piracy affected him. Perhaps if people aren't bothered about breaking the law they might consider the human cost of piracy instead. Give it a read...
http://downthetubes.net/?p=25088

And to critics who will undoubtedly say I'm "banging the same drum again", bloody right I am! Myself and many of my friends depend on comics to earn our living, and I'll defend our right to protect our work and our livelihoods against thieves as much as I can. 

44 comments:

Manic Man said...

couldn't agree more. Problem is people pirates aren't human. Humans have morals, they just choose to obey or disobey them. Pirates don't care less.

also, they don't read or listen so sadly, this kinda post is going to go right over there heads. Also, there are things like the .. I forgot it's name, copyfree or something, which think all software should be free and public domain (which isn't the same as free but often seen to be the same). there are pros and cons of public domain and free content. and these days, look at all the 'preview' books and stuff? there are still some preview books around which give you a sample or the full thing for free or very cheap, and most companies give a few pages of a comic for nothing or so. so that's even less reason for this 'sample it' idea.
A couple of friends of mine who do an online digital release B&W comic, normally do quite a few pages as a preview.. the last issue, 123 pages (for $3.. £1.50 I think) previewed the first 24 pages. Not much excuses for pirating left on that account.

not like I said, pirates aren't human so you can't reason with them. It's like the start of Disney's version of Aladdin. He is a nasty little thing which doesn't care less about anyone but himself (He is openly shown to be stealing from people who are as poor as him, but are TRYING to work to get money to live, where he is singing about how happy he is not to work).

okay.. forgotten my point here.. erm.. Looking forward to the new Brickman collection.. wonder if it'll have any impact on you getting the Combat Colin collection done ^_^ haven't been able to find some of my issues of Transformers for years so I don't remember what happens directly after Combat Kate runs towards Mega-brain after Macho Man was killed.. Be fun to read that ending after so long.

Lew Stringer said...

You're right. Most US publishers, and Titan and Rebellion in the UK, have sample pages freely available for people to check out each issue. If someone can't tell if they like a comic from a 5 page sample of a 20 page story then they're not paying attention.

Yes, sadly I'm sure I'm only preaching to the converted here. No one's morals are going to be changed by this post. It's still something worth saying though.

Re: Combat Colin; the plan is to publish the book next year, all being well. Brickman was easier to do first as all the pages were print-ready. The Combat Colin book will require a lot of scanning and cleaning up of pages, etc. It'll happen eventually. I'm planning to publish a couple of other comics before then though.

Ahhhhhr said...

The best reason has been overlooked. CONVENIENCE! Even you have admitted that comics are hard to find in newsagents? so why should I slog around shops hoping to find the Beano when I can get it online for free in the comfort of my home? Itwas the same with Dandy. Couldn't find it anywhere in the last year it was out so I got cbz files. I'm not sorry and yes manicman I AM human.

benpeter johnson said...

As a blogger who frequently agonises over wether to show images of artwork alongside articles, reviews or link posts, I would like to know if there is a gentleman's/ gentlewoman's etiquette system for showing material without paying the artist/ author. For purely positive reasons. If there is not a rule book as such, should we make one!? If I write an article about a comic, I first check google images 'advanced' search for pictures available for re-use or modification or copyright free. You sometimes can't get anything that way. I will then contact the author or author's agent via email. If that fails i will look at the source media for any allowence for using images 'for reviewing purposes' there is often a statement to that effect somewhere. Then I will include the image with a link to the source material and a 'heads up'. Whilst I have never lifted comics wholesale onto a blog or website, I have often found it very hard to complete an article with image about an artist or comic and some of my blog posts have no image at all. For fear of offending the originators. Which I think is a shame. Also, what about blogs on old comics. They are invaluable vaults of great material which otherwise would never be seen again, yet I doubt the bloggers pay the creators or even contact them in many cases. Where should we stand on that? I dont want to be a pirate, I do want to do the right thing, but you shouldent crack an egg with a sledge hammer. I'm sorry lew but I think the issue is nuanced.

Manic Man said...

others? oh goody. not read many Suburban Satanists cause.. well, I've only read what you have posted or the odd panel scan on a review/shop site.. which I couldn't read well cause my Norwegian is pretty bad.

as for worth saying it's a problem.. Is it worth wasting time on something when there is 0% chance it'll affect anything? not really.. BUT it's worth it if there is a CHANCE and to kinda quote someone that no-one really knows who (it changes depending on who you ask, but the earliest know is in War and Peace I think) "The only thing required for Evil to Triumph is for good men to do nothing"..

I do a fair amount for charities I'm involved with and we have done things like a fundraiser and it's basically ended up with it being a waste of time. sometimes the only people you get supporting it are the people that already support and you don't cover your costs.. but it's worth trying. Learning from the mistakes of the past and seeing what you can do. Last year, the one I support had a Christmas fair.. and me being a nutter, was walking down a near by street a few weeks before and noticed a second hand (barely used) 8 foot inflatable Father Christmas for £10 or so.. RRP £70 (I later found out).. I brought it right way and then decided it could be useful for things like that. some people who went to the fair commented on it but I think it was good that early on, one person came in because they saw it, and thought there must be something going on, so they decided to pop in. So that was completely worth it. Even if she didn't buy anything, that brought in and someone else learnt about us.

Lew Stringer said...

Yes, it's always worth speaking out against piracy, manic. It may name some people think twice before they download torrents etc and hopefully it'll irritate the Pirates themselves. I'm sure a lot of them aren't evil, just misguided and selfish.

Benpeter, perhaps I should have clarified I was only talking about new comics this time. As for reviews, people are usually ok with one or two pages being shown for review purposes as long as they don't give away important plot elements or the ending. Quite often, if a publisher sends out PR it'll include pages for reviewers to use anyway. As for older, out of print comics, again, publishers tend to be ok with a few selected pages shown, as long as it's not the entire comic.

As for you, 'Ahhhr'; you're one of the reasons The Dandy folded. You're one of the reasons sales of comics are down. Hang your head in shame, and if you post again add an 's' to the end of your alias to sum up what you are.

benpeter johnson said...

Thanks for that lew. That was good information. Also, I didn't know Dandy folded. I feel a little sad! Desperate Dan and Corky the cat gave me lots of entertainment as a kid!

Lew Stringer said...

The Dandy folded at the end of 2012, on its 75 anniversary. It had a great send off though, with a bumper sized last issue. You can read about it here:
http://lewstringer.blogspot.co.uk/2012/12/the-dandys-grand-finale.html

benpeter johnson said...

And also, convienience is never a good reason not to go out! Last time i went comic shopping i met up with some people, checked out the city, had lunch in a great little cafe, ate a fantastic quesidilla with is a toasted cheesesandwich made from tortillas, went home and grabbed a takeaway from the indian restaurant in shepton mallet (yes, shepton has an indian takeaway!) and had a great day! Cost me what little I owned that week, was completly INCONVIENIANT. But so much better than just staring at a screen all day! And I write a webcomic in my spare time. Like the tv show used to say, why dont you switch off your tv and do something interesting instead! Unless of course health prevents it! In which case convienience all the way. But pay!

Hugh Aranass said...

Surely the main reason the dandy folded was because it was shit and not enough people bought it.

Lew Stringer said...

You must be thinking of a different comic, Hugh Aranass. The Dandy was of a high standard throughout its 75 years.

Good points, benpeter!

Kris Shaw said...

I am always amused at the excuses folks come up with for stealing IP/art. I buy everything because I am a physical media lover. Plus if the writer/artist/musician whose work you enjoy cannot eke out a living doing what they love then you won't get more of what you love: their work!

Lew Stringer said...

Very true, Kris. Unfortunately I think that fact goes over the heads of some people.

Tiniebras said...

Convenience stopped being an excuse since sites such as comixology came along. It is in fact easier to search legal sites for comics than torrent sites. I can't afford to buy every comic I want, so I don't. Instead I buy a small portion of comics new and then buy most others second hand later on. As with any market, supporting the secondary market provides funds for others to keep buying.

Oh, and Manic Man, I think you'll find that after Kate charges MegaBrain they are unable to harm him. The Giggly sisters then try to talk Megabrain down but Steve foils that plan. Eventually however Colin uses Madprofs time machine to strand MegaBrain in a post-apocaliptic future. Phew!

These things I know as I have purchased most of my Colin collection from ebay and then scanned it in. For personal use only though, no pirating here!

Peter Finn said...

Unable to offer a maturely reasoned counterpoint the troll stoops to calling a comic you worked for "shit". What a silly fool he is.

People who torrent comics illegally aren't genuine comics fans. Truth.

Lew Stringer said...

Spot on, Peter. I wouldn't normally publish comments by trolls but they are amusing in the way their impotent anger manifests itself in such childish comments.

Tiniebras, did you have the Transformers comics originally or are you discovering them for the first time on eBay?

Another argument against piracy is that I hear the image quality on those illegal discs of old comics is very poor. Some pages are over saturated or badly scanned. One buyer even had the cheek to ask me if I'd do better scans for him! Naturally I refused.

BB said...

Dandy was a top comic!
PC Big Ears, Isle of Monsters, Jack Silver, DESPERATE DAN!!
Non better.

Lew Stringer said...

Very true. I was proud to have worked for it.

Hugh Aranass said...

Would offer maturely reasoned counterpoint if I disagreed, peter finn, but I agree about piracy. But I don't believe dandy folded because readers were pirating it, they stopped buying it because it turned into shit. Interesting that comments agreeing with you after my first one are non google account holders lew.

James Spiring said...

Ahhhhhr, if you can't find the Beano in the shops, subscribe to it instead. Don't just leech it for free!

Hugh Aranass, you think the Dandy folded because "it was shit and not enough people bought it"? If people weren't buying it it was because they didn't know it was there - I've always blamed the marketing for it's demise. Lots of extra copies printed for the 2010 revamp and they failed to advertise it. Lots of unsold copies, lots of shops then reducing orders or delisting it. That's why it folded, not because of the quality (and personally I think it was the best it had been in decades).

Phil Boyce said...

Aranas you're a thief, simple as that, a petty common thief. Whether it's comics, movies, TV or music, piracy is theft - end of. People lose wages and jobs because of people like you, most are freelancers in comics (in other industries they also have to go from one job to the next when one is finished) whose jobs are taken away or who can't get work because people believe they have some entitlement to steal what others have slogged hard over to create - it's their job! There's NEVER a reason to steal.

Lew Stringer said...

What a strange thing to say, Hughie. Seems that you're not a Google account holder either. James is right. Even Thomson's own Sunday Post didn't advertise the 2010 revamp of The Dandy until it was too late.

Phil, because of the backlog of comments that built up while I was out, you didn't see Aranarse's comment before you posted but it seems he's against piracy now.

Phil Boyce said...

It was aimed at Ahhhhhr who I thought, when reading the Aranar's, comment was the same person, if not then I apologise to Aranar as it was Ahhhhhr it was aimed at.

Ahhhhhr (if it is indeed a different person) stole the Dandy and contributed towards many losing work and money, as you said. If he's changed his mind now it doesn't take away that he stole it and many suffered as a result.

Thanks for this post Lew, it's a message that needs to be spread more.

benpeter johnson said...

Pheew! The debate rages on! The only new dandy material Ive read has been mags left in hairdressers and doctors surgeries. It looked ok to me. The artwork was a bit slapdash in some of the scripts bur it was still more or less the same. It made me laugh so it must have done its job! I think its pretty clear that sales for every mag have been in decline so you cant just say one mag is wholly responsible for its own decline when everyone is going downhill together. Interesting though that I felt if anything, the dandy was more proggressive and tailered to a modern audience than the beano, which has firmly stuck to it's format. It does seem that the comics that just dont change like viz, 2000ad & the beano make it through hard times better than publications that alter material to suit modern times. This seems odd. Perhaps there is a lesson to be learned somewhere in all of this. But it doesnt send out a good messege to the idea of being innovative! Anyway, I thought the dandy was ok, I didnt even know it had folded (as i said before). i think the beano keeps things fresh by sticking to the genre it has created for itself but sometimes subtly underming that by hiring writers and artists from underground comics, like hunt emmerson doing little plum, brilliant, and sometimes taking the mickey out of itself ( like alot of bash street kids is now quite clever and self depricatory). You could say the same for 2000ad. That's perhaps the way to do it. SAMEY-BUT-CLEVER!

Lew Stringer said...

With an alias such as 'Hugh Aranass' he's obviously a troll and shouldn't really be given any exposure. Like other trolls, he's only after attention by saying something controversial and insulting to the contributors. He clearly has no idea of constructive criticism.

Good points, benpeter. The thing that 'glass half empty' critics forget is that The Dandy ran for 75 years, where most comics fail to reach a fraction of that. It was never going to last forever. Sales had been in decline for years; staying traditional wasn't working; changing to a magazine didn't work; then the final revamp to a modern, funny comic was too late. At least it went out on a high with some good stuff in there.

Tiniebras said...

This comments section seems to be geting a bit side tracked! Still, on the issue of the Dandy I do think that at the time of its demise it was at a high point in terms of quality. It had working for it much of the talent that went on to make The Phoenix such a success. The likes of Smart, Northfield, Dawburn, etc.

My feeling is that it wasn't the quality of the comic that failed, it was the model. The economic model based around selling a million comics a week was no longer sustainable in todays media consuming envirnoment. In fact the Dandy was still selling 8,000 comics a week in 2011. That's 32,000 issues a month which would make it a top 50 best seller in the US despite having a market 5 times smaller.
However, in todays market, choice has increased exponentially. Many magazines have cut costs by using reprints, text/photo filler material, increasing add space etc. However the real successes have come from specialising. Instead of running one Sport magazine, you run one on football, one on Rugby, one on Golf, etc. Each magazine sells smaller volumes but they attract a stable and loyal readership.
The Dandy might well have stabilised its sales figures at some lower number to a loyal core readership. But in my opinion DCT did the right thing. They specialised. Instead of running two similar products they decided to produce one and stop competing with themselves.

Oh, and to answer you question about my Colin collection Lew. I was a GI Joe Fan in my youth which is how I met Colin. However I didn't follow him across to the Transfromers comic when GI Joe folded. So most of my Transfromers comics are from the 'bay. Has been an enoyable ride rediscovering his adventures!

Hugh Aranass said...

Always been against piracy of available to buy material. Don't know why Phil Boyce says thief when my first comment wasn't talking about piracy anyway. The dandy had over 70 years of history behind it and the relaunch was promoted on TV and in newspapers, extra copies were printed and it even sold more at the start, unlike what James Spiring says. Then people wised up to it being shit and stopped buying it. That's the real truth. Even DC Thomson admitted it was a mistake. I've read other blogs saying the same thing so the dandy fans here are in the minority.

Lew Stringer said...

And plenty more blogs say they enjoyed it, 'Hugh', so what's your point? Of course the relaunch sold more at the start, because speculators and suchlike always buy first issues and revamps. That applies to every publication, so why you've singled The Dandy out is very strange. Almost as though you have a fixation. But anyway, you're a troll with no constructive criticism to offer despite me giving you ample opportunity to do so, and you've wasted your last chance to have your say.

Thanks, Tinebras, for a perceptive and intelligent view of the situation.

Yes, we've gone off track a bit due to the troll's agenda but we'll focus back on piracy again now if anyone has anything to add?

Peter Finn said...

It must be a joyless pursuit to track down torrents of new comics and read them onscreen When they could be going out to comic shops and conventions and meeting other fans.

benpeter johnson said...

On piracy, I think there is a spectrum of ethics. On one side theres scanning and posting whole comics to a mass audience and we all agree that's wrong yeah? Especially if you're making some sort of profit or claiming the work as your own. That's dick head territory. On the other end theres scanning an image to make a poster advertising a local music event or making a birthday card for a mate. That's completly harmless. And in the middle theres a whole moral maze of scenarios. Do you post this? Do you show that? How much do you show? What does the author think? Do they want the exposure? I think we just all need to show a bit of respect. If you like a comic strip enough to make it possible for someone to illegally download a pdf of it? What are you thinking? You must have some admiration for the work somewhere inside you. And the author could have made that material available for free if they had wanted to. So logically, you must realise that you are doing something wrong. It's pretty simple. If however you absolutly love a story that no-one seems to know about that has no exposure, and you want the world to know about it, you might be tempted to post chunks of it online just to say, 'hey, I love this! Check it out' but like lew says, just post a pic and link it! Maybe check a publisher's press release online or leave a comment on the author's website. Ive seen a website with a whole issue of Tank Girl on it and I don't think the blogger thought he was doing anything wrong and he clearly loved the source material. I just don't think he was really using his brain cells when he did it. If you had a discussion with him, like the one we're having now, he'd probebly realise he had been a bit of a prat. But was he evil? No, just a bit wrong. People often have the wrong idea about how much money is involved and think 'well, they're rich now. It doesn't matter if I rip them off' but the truth is that there isn't actualy that much money in this business and piracy is much more harmfull than the pirates realise. Thats all i have to say. I'm probebly being too soft.

Lew Stringer said...

Yes, there is the misconception that comic creators are rich and that piracy won't hurt them. Nothing could be further from the truth! The rules of minumum wage don't even include freelancers and it can be tough going at times. We persevere because we love doing comics, so it's a kick in the teeth when some guys basically distribute free copies of that work without permission.

The other day, when Dark Horse's GRINDHOUSE No.8 came out, I was looking online trying to find a seller who had it. (I'll eventually get three complimentary copies but I like to buy a couple of extras too.) Seems there's a problem with distribution to the UK for that issue so I couldn't buy a copy, - but I found sites that were pirating it, - on the day of publication! What a bunch of gits. (I eventually bought the legal digital edition from the Dark Horse app.)

Hugh Aranass said...

Only responded to your point why dandy folded, so the fixation is yours. But you can't have it both ways, it either sold more after relaunch or it didn't. If it had been any good it would have kept the increased sales but it couldn't hang on to them and they weren't all down to speculators. Tinebras's opinion is interesting but overlooks the fact the comic was no longer economical to run so stabilising the sales figures at a lower number was never an option. Strange how you call anyone a troll who disagrees with you. DC Thomson admitted the form the relaunch took was a mistake so why can't you?

Phil Boyce said...

Aranas we all know you are obviously the same person as 'Ahhhhr' who said he'd downloaded the Dandy and Beanos for free because he couldn't be bothered going to get them. You're not kidding anyone and everyone else knows that's what I was referring to. A thief is a thief and there can be no excusing it and the damage it does. And if it's not available to buy that doesn't give you the right to steal it either.

One example is my Oink! Blog. I asked permission from both Egmont and the creators who agreed I could put up a selection from each issue but to a limit in case they wished to sell issues or collections digitally in the future - it's their copyright, whether it's in print now or not! Also the writers and cartoonists own their Oink! work so I'm not going to go and scan in all their work and so limiting their income if they wish to reprint anything themselves. Again: their copyright, their intellectual property.

James Spiring said...

And there is a good point. If a legal digital edition exists, why download what is probably a poor quality scan instead? Availability isn't a problem if they have a digital edition.

And Lew, good on you for actually buying extra comics thus giving money to the publisher, despite the fact that you'll legally be getting free copies anyway.

Lew Stringer said...

'Hugh Aranass', I'm specifically calling YOU a troll, not everyone who disagrees with me, because it's as clear as your stupidly insulting alias that you are a troll. You first posted on this thread as 'Ahhhhr', then when I suggested you add an 's' to it you came back as 'Hugh Aranass'. Plain as day you're the same person. Who are you kidding? If you don't like being called a troll, stop trolling. Dead simple.

Peter Finn said...

So then according to Aranass' way of looking at things the Dandy MUST have been rubbish because it's sales went down. So any comic that ends is because it's rubbish. What silliness. Lots of quality comics have ended, hundreds of them! You can't say low sales are because "they were shit". Grow up.

Lew Stringer said...

Exactly, Peter.

Thanks James. It's something I've always done. We rarely get free copies from UK publishers so I buy my own anyway and usually a second copy so I can keep one near mint and one for reference. And it helps support the comic in a small way, as you said.

Tiniebras said...

The statment that the Dandy was "no longer economical to run" is a rather vague one. DCT are of course a private family controlled business so we'll never know exactly how much money the Dandy was making. However 8,000 issues at £1.99 a pop means a monthly turnover of around £64,000 or £384,000 a year. And it's also worth noting that the weeklies act as spring boards for DCTs highly profitable christmas annuals which further add to the coffers.
We also know that 2010-2011-2012 were good years for DCT overall with profits rising from £27.4million to £28.6m to £31.1m.

So I suspect that the Dandy was economical to run. The question was wether it was the best use of their resources. Could DCT make more money by using those resources to produce soemthing else. Clearly they thought they could. That's business.

So I stand by my opinion. The Dandy was a high quality comic in its last days and it sold figures that others would be envious of. However DCT made a business decision to refocus their resources and I suspect that was a wise choice.

benpeter johnson said...

Just read that surface tension article. The book looks really good actually, I might check that one out. I think that particular comic might be better as a physical print copy. Is it available in shops I wonder?

Anyway that's not why i'm commenting. As we're talking about piracy I wonder if I could ask you about using copy written charecters for spoofs and parodies? Is it legal? If i wanted to do a cartoon about batman going down the pub would that be ok with d.c.? Or would I have to post somekind of disclaimer?

Lew Stringer said...

Depends. Batman has appeared in numerous cartoons over the years, so it's ok to use it as a parody in a spot cartoon I think. If you were doing it as a comic strip called Batman that'd be different. For example Mad magazine has a long tradition of spoofing characters but they change the names. (Ok, Mad is owned by DC now but for years it wasn't, and still did loads of parodies.) My own Brickman character is a spoof of Batman for example. Physically he looks completely different, but it's obvious who he's parodying.

Lew Stringer said...

Incidentally, 'Hugh Aranass' ("you are an ass") tried to post another comment, this time claiming that was his real name. The most laughably attempt at trolling yet, and he won't be posting here again. My apologies for letting him derail this subject with his childish nonsense.

Phil Boyce said...

Nor will I be publishing his lame attempt to troll The Oink! Blog I received last night after I mentioned it above in response to his comment. Maybe "Chris P Bacon" is also his real name. I kid you not.

Lew Stringer said...

Sounds like he's a man of a million faces.... but only one writing style. Ha!

Lew Stringer said...

An aside to 'Hugh'; you can stop wasting your time trying to get comments published. Typically they're getting even more outrageous and off topic so they're not going to be published. There's no doubt you're trolling now so go and find something constructive to do.

Benpeter, I forgot to reply to the other part of your comment. Yes, Surface Tension is available in comic shops, although some do order low on comics that aren't from Marvel or DC. Your best bet is to try Forbidden Planet, as they're related to Titan Comics. (Not Forbidden Planet International; they're a different company.)

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