FBI takes down illegal comics website

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Digifiend
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FBI takes down illegal comics website

Post by Digifiend »

Was browsing Digital Spy, stumbled across this:
http://www.digitalspy.co.uk/comics/news ... -site.html

Seems www.htmlcomics.com got shut down by the Feds last month!
The FBI has served a warrant to a pirate comics site and shut down its servers.

HTMLcomics stands accused of criminal copyright infringement, reports Robot 6.

DC, Marvel, Dark Horse Comics, Bongo Comics, Archie Comics, Conan Properties Int’l LLC, Mirage Studios Inc., and United Media formed a consortium to work with the FBI on the case.

"HTMLcomics was believed to have been the largest, best-known and most easily accessible website of its kind, producing rampant copyright infringement on a daily basis and depriving artists and publishers of hard-earned and much-needed revenue," said law firm Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP in a statement.

The website reportedly received an average of 1.6 million visits per day and offered 6,630,021 pages of comics available for unrestricted reading online.
:shock: That's a lot of illegal scans! One very popular pirate website gone. And it isn't stored on the Internet Archive either, so this is gone for good. Good news for the publishers I guess.

Phoenix
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Re: FBI takes down illegal comics website

Post by Phoenix »

Digifiend wrote:The website reportedly received an average of 1.6 million visits per day and offered 6,630,021 pages of comics available for unrestricted reading online.
So precise! I wonder why it wasn't an even number of pages.

Lew Stringer
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Re: FBI takes down illegal comics website

Post by Lew Stringer »

Phoenix wrote:
Digifiend wrote:The website reportedly received an average of 1.6 million visits per day and offered 6,630,021 pages of comics available for unrestricted reading online.
So precise! I wonder why it wasn't an even number of pages.
Because some scans missed out the ad pages.

I had a run in with the guy behind the site a few months ago. He had copies of Elephantmen up there with all my Brickman pages. As I intend to republish those in a comic later this year I didn't want sales damaged by illegal scans on the net so I asked him to remove them. He got a bit sniffy about it but complied. You CAN beat the pirates.

The news about HTML Comics being taken down has been all over the net and, my word, it's certainly brought out the sense of childish entitlement that some fans think they have to comics they haven't paid for. I've read all kinds of pathetic excuses defending pirating, from "I can't afford all the comic books I want" to "It's not my fault. It's the addictive nature of comics". Didn't their parents ever say "NO" to them about anything?

Bottom line is: if it's not theirs to take, they can't have it, and publishers are finally taking action against the thieves.

Most American comics sell less than 20,000 copies an issue. That's a ridiculous figure for a country the size of America. The comic industry simply can't afford to lose any more sales to tight gits who won't pay for their "comic fix".
The blog of British comics: http://lewstringer.blogspot.com
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Phoenix
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Re: FBI takes down illegal comics website

Post by Phoenix »

Lew Stringer wrote:Because some scans missed out the ad pages.
Thank you for the clarification, Lew.

Raven
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Re: FBI takes down illegal comics website

Post by Raven »

Lew Stringer wrote: I had a run in with the guy behind the site a few months ago. He had copies of Elephantmen up there with all my Brickman pages. As I intend to republish those in a comic later this year I didn't want sales damaged by illegal scans on the net so I asked him to remove them. He got a bit sniffy about it but complied. You CAN beat the pirates.

Harlan Ellison has suggested he had some strong influence in this matter. The entry below is from his messageboard (The Flying Blue Monkey Squad is his name for his readers who help him out on the net; strong words censored as I know some people on here don't like them):



"HARLAN ELLISON
- Wednesday, May 5 2010 21:3:45
IMPORTANT IMPORTANT IMPORTANT

Several months ago, if you recall, we were advised of an internet pirate who was posting -- along with about 30,000 other pages -- DC, Marvel, Archie, Dark Horse, and on and on -- my stories from HARLAN ELLISON'S DREAM CORRIDOR. When we advised him to cease and desist, he essentially told me to go f*** myself, and urged me to sue him. Just like every one of them, all the way back to my AOL suit, he told me he couldn't be found, he was impregnable, I could go f*** myself.

I warned him.

I asked four members of The Flying Blue Monkey Squad to help me. They found him in one day, unsnarled all his shunting devices, tracked his footprint back to his main server, we got his name, his location in Tampa, Florida, and sent that data on to, well, friends of friends.

Look around the net today, folks. You may find a HUGE news event that congratulates Dark Horse (publisher of DREAM CORRIDOR), DC, Marvel, a consortium of dealers and publishers, and a number of attorneys, who have decided to do what I was asked by the FBI to refrain from doing until they'd put out THEIR press release...announce the arrest of a guy in, well I'll be damned, Tampa, Florida on Federal Charges of illegal copyright infringement.

I claim nothing. But once again, and you may smile with naked pleasure again, their are demon-shaped hoofprints all over this reply to the arrogant "do your worst" of the pirates. What they don't ever seem to perceive, is that for some of us, our worst is our best.

Thank you, each and every.

Grin mercilessly.

Yr. Pal, Harlan"



It's interesting, Lew, that he agreed to take your stuff down yet refused Ellison who is well known to be litigious over such matters. Did you have much trouble?

I think there might be an increasing crackdown in the UK, too. I was told that the council have been in touch with organisers of local collectors' fairs about bootlegs and I noticed the usual tables of bootleg roms and DVDs missing from the recent film and comic fairs.

Lew Stringer
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Re: FBI takes down illegal comics website

Post by Lew Stringer »

Raven wrote: It's interesting, Lew, that he agreed to take your stuff down yet refused Ellison who is well known to be litigious over such matters. Did you have much trouble?
Not really. He was initially abrasive, claiming he was giving my work free publicity but when I persisted he removed the material. I didn't have to use legal threats.
Raven wrote:I think there might be an increasing crackdown in the UK, too. I was told that the council have been in touch with organisers of local collectors' fairs about bootlegs and I noticed the usual tables of bootleg roms and DVDs missing from the recent film and comic fairs.
Yes there are moves underway to clamp down on all this sort of stuff. As the new Doctor said in his first episode: "Basically, run." :lol:

felneymike
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Re: FBI takes down illegal comics website

Post by felneymike »

GOTCHA!

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Captain Storm
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Re: FBI takes down illegal comics website

Post by Captain Storm »

Just for the record,scans of new material is a no go area,especially if a creator deems it so.I agree with Lew a 100%.This is his work and he is right in wanting it pulled down.The Net is awash with tales of what an asshole this guy is(the illegal scans guy).Which is a shame really as he had a lot of public domain stuff from the U.S. and old British comics,about 30 to 40 years old.If he had stuck to just that,maybe it wouldn't have been a problem.Buddies of mine in the industry,creators et al,have been vehement in their attacks on him.Most concur that comics from long ago(they made their money over and over and for the most part will never see print again and in any case are mostly forgotten and only a handful of enthusiasts care)are okay but definitely not recent or brand new material.So while his heart may have been in the right place,his brain most assuredly was not.

The Cap.

NP
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Re: FBI takes down illegal comics website

Post by NP »

Captain Storm wrote:...comics from long ago(they made their money over and over...)
I'd just like to point out, in case anyone is in any doubt, that the artist and writers of 'comics from long ago' don't "make their money over and over", the publishers do. (Except in rare cases where a very very small percentage is paid.)
Thought I'd make that clear, because I could imagine someone thinking "wow, so every time they reprint a page, the artist makes money!" They DON'T! They LOSE money because a reprint is taking the place of a page that he or she might have drawn something NEW for.

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kevf
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Re: FBI takes down illegal comics website

Post by kevf »

I caused some furore on a comics site by mentioning html comics when I discovered it a couple of months ago. I may even have sung its praises, and gone on to take advantage of it, discovering a number of my own strips which I'd not been able to see for years, as well as reading years worth of comics from my childhood. I read every X Men comic from 1963 to 69 on htmlcomics, and every Captain Marvel comic from 1970-79 (don't bother, they're rubbish by the way), and lots more. Spirit news sections in colour. Early 2000AD comics including the unpublished dummy issue. And some of my Beano strips.

Many of these comics I had in their Marvel UK reprints, many I didn't. Most I'd read as a child but with some issues missing, some I'd never seen before. Next to none of the ones I read online were available to buy, in print, in colour.

So the question is what are the publishers going to do about establishing online archives? There is an audience. They could charge pennies and make money from them as, for example, iPhone apps. So will they?

Of course none of the creators will make any royalties from them, they never have done and they probably never will do. But it's the poor publishers I feel sorry for, and we must find whatever means we can to help them make some money from our work somehow, before it's too late.

Kev F
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Lew Stringer
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Re: FBI takes down illegal comics website

Post by Lew Stringer »

Fact is Kev American publishers are making inroads into legally downloadable digital comics. Comixology has new ones added every Thursday for example. Early issues of the FF, Spider-Man, Avengers, and more recent issues.

Just because publishers are taking their time and testing the waters in a way that won't jeopardize their print comics doesn't mean it's ok for fans to just take what they want. That's just the latest in a long line of excuses that some fans are using now. It's moved on from "I can't afford everything I want" (who can?) to "Well it's the publisher's fault for not making them available legally" and "Hey, publishers make millions anyway".

Either way, it's passing the buck when the true, inarguable, culprits are the impatient fans who just "wannit". Yes, publishers are richer than the creators who make the money for them but damaging publishers is still damaging creators. When most American comicbooks are selling less than 20,000 copies an issue a few extra thousand readers makes all the difference between survival of a comic or cancellation. And if those extra thousand readers are stealing the comics off the net then they're endangering the livelihoods of creators.

Pirates might wish to delude themselves that they're fighting "the suits" but in truth the suits will do fine as they always do. But the suits will probably make the decision to cut back on a few comics because of low sales and put a few creators out of work.

Does it make a difference to only read 40 year old comics? Yes, when most of those comics you mention are available in reprints that make money for the companies that fund new material.

(I'll disagree with you about Captain Marvel by the way. The early Marvel ones are indeed poor, rushed, contradictory tales, but the Starlin issues are great! I'm currently reading those in the Masterworks format.)
The blog of British comics: http://lewstringer.blogspot.com
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philcom55
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Re: FBI takes down illegal comics website

Post by philcom55 »

Ugh - Jim Starlin! The earlier ones by Gil Kane and Roy Thomas were SO much better!!! (imho of course)

- Phil Rushton :wink:

Lew Stringer
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Re: FBI takes down illegal comics website

Post by Lew Stringer »

philcom55 wrote:Ugh - Jim Starlin! The earlier ones by Gil Kane and Roy Thomas were SO much better!!! (imho of course)

- Phil Rushton :wink:
Yes the Thomas/Kane issues were good, but they didn't do many. It was the period after Colan and before Kane that wasn't very good. The scripts are all over the place. (I read them recently in the Essential collection and was so unimpressed I sold the book straight away. Worst Marvel superhero comics of the 1960s imho.)

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kevf
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Re: FBI takes down illegal comics website

Post by kevf »

We've thoroughly thrashed out this debate on another forum, and I agreed reluctantly that, because illegal sites are ultimately a bad thing, we have to wait until the official publishers make their material available in some way. I still feel that a great deal of material will never be released officially (can anyone envisage a big DC Thomson back catalogue appearing online anywhere soon?), but this is the price we have to pay for not wanting to pay a price for things.

Kev F

PS: The Jim Starlin Captain Marvel's were the ones that really made me realise the folly of youth. I thought that was literature and high art when I was 13. It really is embarrassing twaddle. But dammit, for a while it was my embarrassing twaddle.
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alanultron5
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Re: FBI takes down illegal comics website

Post by alanultron5 »

A true fan would surely be willing to pay for something they really want! I am a big music fan-but I truly have `NEVER` downloaded any songs in my life! I spend a lot on original vinyl! Anyhow- if this means creators of comic strips will benefit financially - that's got to be good!
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