Comic Book 'Pirated' On 4Chan, Author Joins Discussion... Watches Sales Soar

from the connect-with-fans dept

Paul Watson points us to yet another example of how engaging with fans of your work (even if, technically, they infringed on your copyrights) can lead to pretty happy outcomes for everyone. The basic details are that comic book artist Steve Lieber discovered that folks at 4chan had scanned in and uploaded every page of his graphic novel Underground. Now, the typical reaction is to freak out, scream "piracy," whine about "losses" and demand that "something must be done." But, in a world where obscurity is really a much bigger issue than "piracy," another option is to actually engage with those fans who liked his work so much that they put in the effort to share it with the world. And that's exactly what Lieber did. He went to the site and actually started talking about the work with the folks on 4chan (image from Paul):
Nice. But, what did it actually mean? Well, the day after he engaged with fans on 4chan, Lieber posted a blog post highlighting his sales. As he says, "pictures help us learn."
But "piracy" is killing the ability to earn money, right?


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 21st, 2010 @ 12:48pm

    "He signed up for an account, and actually started talking about the work with the folks on 4chan"

    4chan does not work based on accounts, there is no account to sign up for.

     

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  2.  
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    Nina Paley (profile), Oct 21st, 2010 @ 12:57pm

    SWEET

    SWEET.

     

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  3.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 21st, 2010 @ 12:59pm

    Tax dodges on Intellectual Property Royalties

    As long as "Piracy" is highlighted, tax evasion won't come to light. The problem is paying corporate taxes. Overseas licensing schemes such as the Dutch Sandwich and the Double Irish use legal maneuvers to package products as Intellectual Property, and skirt tax payments as long as the payment is for "royalties". So if your fundamental product is IP, you won't have to pay taxes on that product by accepting payments through subsidary companies. It's a Tax dodge. Plus, you and can offshore the labor to cheap markets such as Asia.

    Strengthening IP laws without looking at transfer pricing only seeks to strengthen the IP tax scam which is costing billions, if not trillions of dollars.

     

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  4.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 21st, 2010 @ 1:05pm

    That can't be right, the den of piracy, immorality and some even say criminal activity can't be the source for paying customers can it?

    LoL

     

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  5.  
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    Anonymous Poster, Oct 21st, 2010 @ 1:10pm

    Re:

    Yeah, just wanna make that clear, Mike: anyone can post on 4chan without even using a name. No registration, account, or special setup needed.

     

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  6.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 21st, 2010 @ 1:12pm

     

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  7.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 21st, 2010 @ 1:15pm

    If the author wanted his whole work published on 4chan, it would have been a simple matter to do it himself or just put the work under a license that allowed that. But hey, screw what the artist wants. I guess it's a good thing that his fans knew what license he should have used better than he did and acted accordingly.

     

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  8.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), Oct 21st, 2010 @ 1:18pm

    Re:

    4chan does not work based on accounts, there is no account to sign up for.


    Sorry, knew that, but sorta simplified it in my head. Clarified in the article.

     

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  9.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 21st, 2010 @ 1:21pm

    Mike's right again!

    As a community manager on 4Chan's Prestigeous "Random" board, I can say that the only the only thing needed is a warm body and a captcha.

    Stop by sometime and let us know how we're doing!

     

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  10.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), Oct 21st, 2010 @ 1:24pm

    Re:

    I guess it's a good thing that his fans knew what license he should have used better than he did and acted accordingly.

    Welcome to how markets work.

     

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  11.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 21st, 2010 @ 1:26pm

    Satistically possible, but highly improbable

    People must have liked the book if it was re-posted enough for the author to find it on there.

    90% of articles and threads die in a real short amount of time- usually within ten minutes.

    Besides, it would take a middle-aged person with nerves of steel to troll 4Chan looking for a PDF version of their book and then talk to the pirates.

     

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  12.  
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    Justin Olbrantz (Quantam), Oct 21st, 2010 @ 1:29pm

    Re:

    Exactly. Piracy never had anything to do with money or one's livelihood. It's all about the author's intellectual control of what they produce.

     

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  13.  
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    SuckerFish, Oct 21st, 2010 @ 1:29pm

    Awesome that one person got paid from piracy. Now when the thousands (or more)of other independent artists start getting paid what they rightfully deserve, then we can talk about how everything is hunky dory and stealing is OK.

    Jackass.

     

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  14.  
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    Andrew (profile), Oct 21st, 2010 @ 1:32pm

    Re:

    Either authors want profit, or they're clinically insane. Let's look at the options here:

    1) It's not pirated. He makes x amount of dollars, because x amount of people bought and read it. He may or may be happy with this. This is the (assumed) situation by many authors.

    2) It's pirated. 100x amount of people are now able to read it for free, but 10x people buy it. He makes much more money.

    2a) If he's sane, he's happy that people love his work enough to share and buy it, and happy because he made much more money than he was otherwise.

    2b) If he's insane, he cares more about the 100x who got to see it for free rather than the 10-fold increase in sales.

    It's as simple as that. Only a fool cares about the metaphysics of it; a normal person realizes that despite so many people seeing it for free, he benefited greatly from the exercise.

    If you think I'm harsh, then.. why would an author care if people saw his work for free, if he was making more money because of it? If that's truly all he cares about - preventing people from seeing his work - then he's insane.

     

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  15.  
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    Free Capitalist (profile), Oct 21st, 2010 @ 1:32pm

    Re: Satistically possible, but highly improbable

    True there is a lot of noise on the Internet. But let me rephrase that for you.

    "Worked for him, wouldn't work for anyone else."

    The nice thing is anyone can play that lotto (and let's be honest, talent will get picked up more often than crap like I post), no industry ticket required.

     

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  16.  
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    Anonymous Poster, Oct 21st, 2010 @ 1:35pm

    Re:

    Now when the thousands (or more)of other independent artists start getting paid what they rightfully deserve, then we can talk about how everything is hunky dory and stealing is OK.

    This is the real world. Your argument is invalid.

     

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  17.  
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    RadialSkid (profile), Oct 21st, 2010 @ 1:36pm

    Re:

    And, of course, the old "It worked once, but it's not repeatable" chestnut. That argument lost any and all steam about the fifth time it was repeated.

    If you're not getting paid, it's your fault. Profitability is not an entitlement.

     

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  18.  
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    Anonymous Poster, Oct 21st, 2010 @ 1:36pm

    Re: Re:

    Profitability is not an entitlement.

    THANK YOU.

     

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  19.  
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    JEDIDIAH, Oct 21st, 2010 @ 1:37pm

    Who are you whining about exactly?

    Obscurity is a far worse fate than piracy.

     

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  20.  
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    Chris Rhodes (profile), Oct 21st, 2010 @ 1:37pm

    Re:

    Awesome that one person got paid from piracy.

    Stick around for more examples (or just go through the site history). When people engage their fans rather than sending out the lawyers, then tend to do pretty well.

    rightfully deserve

    How much does an artist "rightfully deserve"? How would a person calculate such a thing? My parents always told me that something is only worth what someone else will give you for it. You can whine about that fact until you're blue in the face, but it won't make it any less true.

    stealing

    Copying isn't stealing, it's copying. I'll give you a pass, though, because it's a common enough fallacy.

     

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  21.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 21st, 2010 @ 1:38pm

    Re:

    Good thing you have no evidence to back up your stupidity, and are blissfully ignorant of the definition of words, otherwise I might have had to spend more than 5 seconds reading your comment.

     

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  22.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 21st, 2010 @ 1:40pm

    Re:

    ...or we don't talk at all and people just take it.

    Who is going to stop them, you?

    LoL

     

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  23.  
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    Some guy, Oct 21st, 2010 @ 1:43pm

    The problem is this doesn't necessarily work. While it's great that Watson had success with this, I'm not so certain it would be so in every case. It requires just the right combination of circumstances. For instance, if Lars Ulrich were to do the same thing with a music file, I can't see sales rising all that much as a result.

    This doesn't mean that the RIAA and IP lawyers are always right. It does mean that maybe when you are dealing with smaller scale stuff this works, or maybe the particular kind of people who will buy Underground or maybe the moon was just full, who knows.

    There are some concrete things we do know. One is that for small, independent artists the model of selling your music on iTunes isn't working all that well. (There are only a teeny tiny number of people selling their art that way that make a living at it -- do the math -- even if you collected the whole $1.99 per song you would need to sell tens of thousands of copies to make a minimal wage). There is an up-front capital cost to making art -- it doesn't just come magically out of your fingers in two seconds, you have to spend a significant amount of time. Essentially that's what a record deal or book advance does -- it pays you for the time so you can eat while you write (or draw).

    You can't react to piracy with heavy-handed lawsuits, not in an online world. But you can't just dismiss it either. For instance, I am old enough to remember when cassette tapes were going to kill the music industry. Obviously they didn't. But the product cycle for putting out an album has increased a lot in the last 30 years, and that's got to be accounted for as well.

    For comics, it's actually a little easier as most people don't read them on screens (yet) but the problem there is getting people to pay for anything online at all, especially given the time you spend making a comic. Watson was lucky.

     

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  24.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 21st, 2010 @ 1:50pm

    Re: Re:

    Considering that one of the core theses on this website is that profit is often a poor and ineffective motivation, your comments are surprising.

     

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  25.  
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    Andrew (profile), Oct 21st, 2010 @ 1:50pm

    Re:

    Maybe if they made quality stuff and put in an effort like this guy to connect with fans (and indeed, often pirates ARE fans), they would be getting what they "deserve" and more.

    And no, he didn't get paid from piracy. Piracy helped increase the visibility of his product, which led people to buy it. How is this remotely a bad thing? In other cases, if piracy did not lead people to buy it, that's a shame, but then you're simply left with the status quo. Because piracy exists. Deal with it, jackass.

     

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  26.  
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    MadCow (profile), Oct 21st, 2010 @ 1:51pm

    Re:

    The problem that I'm going to focus on is how you say it won't work in general and point to Lars Ulrich. While I am a HUGE Metallica fan, I also understand that Lars f***ed his fans with the crap he spear headed. Had he NOT done what he did and instead embraced his fans, I am thoroughly convinced Metallica fan following would be even significantly larger than what it already is today.

    People are funny like this. If you harm someone emotionally even just once, many times people will stay bitter to that person to the very end. This is exactly why Lars' image will forever stay tarnished, even after Death Magnetic was pirated before release and he openly stated that he didn't mind and he was confident the cd would sell. Which it did. Millions of copies.

     

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  27.  
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    Marcus Carab (profile), Oct 21st, 2010 @ 1:51pm

    Re:

    Er, so did you just skip the part where his sales jumped and the author is thrilled with the results?

     

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  28.  
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    Karl (profile), Oct 21st, 2010 @ 1:53pm

    Re: Re:

    It's all about the author's intellectual control of what they produce.

    Um, no. It's all about benefiting the public. Copyright's purpose is to grow the public domain, by giving an incentive to publish. "Intellectual control" has nothing to do with it.

    If that were true, there would be no such things as e.g. fair use or statutory royalties, and copyright would not be "for limited times."

    Copyright can best be thought of as a contract between the public and authors. The natural right to copy lies with the public, but they grant that right to artists. In exchange, artists produce more works, which the public may then use.

    Congress' role is to act on behalf of the public. Unfortunately, copyright laws (like most laws) are now created at the behest of very wealthy corporations, and the public is not involved at all (and rarely even considered). So, large publishers have been re-writing that contract, little by little, for centuries, while the public - who are supposed to be the sole beneficiaries - have been kicked to the curb.

    That's why piracy is so widely accepted. The public may not know the history of copyright law, but they do know when they're being fucked over laws that put corporate interests above their own.

     

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  29.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 21st, 2010 @ 1:53pm

    Re: Re:

    The way markets work is through competition. Posting someone else's work isn't competition. Making your own work and posting it for free would be competition. That would be hard, though.

     

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  30.  
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    DCX2, Oct 21st, 2010 @ 1:56pm

    Re:

    Now when the thousands (or more)of other independent artists start getting paid what they rightfully deserve

    I think you should be taking that up with the record labels. They're the ones searching for ways to avoid paying the very artists that they brandish about in their anti-piracy ads.

     

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  31.  
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    Marcus Carab (profile), Oct 21st, 2010 @ 1:58pm

    Re:

    There is an up-front capital cost to making art -- it doesn't just come magically out of your fingers in two seconds

    D'uh. But there's no marginal cost for additional copies once that art is created.

    do the math -- even if you collected the whole $1.99 per song you would need to sell tens of thousands of copies to make a minimal wage

    So what? We need to legislation that makes music more expensive? Or legislate that makes people buy more music? The market is what drove the price to that point, and the market is what creators must compete in if they want to make a profit.

    Essentially that's what a record deal or book advance does -- it pays you for the time so you can eat while you write (or draw).

    Actually no. It's much more like a loan with highly restrictive terms. It's certainly not "pay", since you have to pay it all back out of the profits of your creation before you see a penny off the back-end - and labels/publishers (labels are worse) use very questionable accounting to ensure you stay indebted to them for as long as possible.

     

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  32.  
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    DCX2, Oct 21st, 2010 @ 1:59pm

    Re:

    I think Mike's point was that obscurity is a bigger threat than piracy...and I don't think Metallica is very obscure. I am therefore not surprised that it wouldn't lead to an increase in sales.

    For that matter, it probably wouldn't even result in a decrease in sales, either.

     

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  33.  
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    Anonymous Poster, Oct 21st, 2010 @ 2:01pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    I'm saving that whole comment for later quotation.

     

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  34.  
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    Chris Rhodes (profile), Oct 21st, 2010 @ 2:03pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    The way markets work is through competition. Posting someone else's work isn't competition.

    Sure it is. If I can buy from you for $10, or get it next door for free, you are competing for my business.

    The best way to compete would be to connect with me, your potential customer, on a personal level, and then give me a good reason to pay $10 to you rather than go for the free version.

     

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  35.  
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    Karl (profile), Oct 21st, 2010 @ 2:05pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Considering that one of the core theses on this website is that profit is often a poor and ineffective motivation

    That is not one of the core theses on this website. If anything, "how to make more money" is the core thesis of Techdirt.

     

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  36.  
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    Liquid (profile), Oct 21st, 2010 @ 2:05pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    It is still competition the original creator still made money. He just free PR by his one awesome fan posting his stuff online for others to check out. You will find a lot of people will support work that they have a chance to see first.

     

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  37.  
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    ChrisB (profile), Oct 21st, 2010 @ 2:06pm

    Re:

    > While it's great that Watson had success with this, I'm
    > not so certain it would be so in every case.

    If you want a steady income, get a day job.

    > For instance, if Lars Ulrich were to do the same thing
    > with a music file, I can't see sales rising all that much
    > as a result.

    I think the exposure from piracy tends to help small acts and hurt large acts.

    > There is an up-front capital cost to making art

    Fine, that is the way it is now, but it doesn't have to be. In fact, art is better when it is under duress. People paid to do things get lazy. People doing things to get paid work much harder.

    > But the product cycle for putting out an album has
    > increased a lot in the last 30 years, and that's got to
    > be accounted for as well.

    This makes no sense, and actually shows the bloating and inefficiencies due to the monopoly. In every other industry, as technology increases, cycle time goes down. Frankly, I don't believe you. What may have happened is more people have a hand in the pie, just like film-making (which also has bloated to a ridiculous level). There is no reason why a band couldn't put out a new song every few months.

     

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  38.  
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    Anonymous Poster, Oct 21st, 2010 @ 2:08pm

    Re: Re:

    There is no reason why a band couldn't put out a new song every few months.

    Hell, there's no reason why a band couldn't put out a new song every few days. Theoretically, anyway.

     

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  39.  
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    Karl (profile), Oct 21st, 2010 @ 2:08pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Please do!

     

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  40.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), Oct 21st, 2010 @ 2:09pm

    Re:

    Awesome that one person got paid from piracy.

    He didn't get "paid from piracy." What an entitlement attitude. He got paid because he *embraced* his fans, and gave them a real reason to buy.

    Now when the thousands (or more)of other independent artists start getting paid what they rightfully deserve, then we can talk about how everything is hunky dory and stealing is OK.

    More entitlement. Notice that SuckerFish here never suggests artists should have to actually earn what they make. Instead, they should just be magically granted money.

    Welcome to the real world.

    And none of this, by the way, has anything to do with "stealing."

     

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  41.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), Oct 21st, 2010 @ 2:13pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    The way markets work is through competition. Posting someone else's work isn't competition.

    Denying reality doesn't help with your understanding or ability to cope.

     

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  42.  
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    MadCow (profile), Oct 21st, 2010 @ 2:13pm

    I wasn't trying to diminish Mike's point at all. I actually agree that smaller artists certainly are harmed more by obscurity than piracy. I don't agree with your thoughts about Metallica though. After the Napster incident Metallica lots many fans. This would obviously result in fewer concert tickets sold and fewer hard goods sold from t-shirts to cd's.

    If on the other hand he said "We know it's happening but you guys can have a better experience coming to the concerts and buying our t-shirts." instead, I'm pretty sure fans would vigorously get behind them. They've long been known for supporting bootleg audio which garnered them a lot of fans back in the days. They essentially went he opposite direction with Napster and lots many fans which provide $$$.

     

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  43.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 21st, 2010 @ 2:14pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    [Citation Needed]

    Not that you'll ever provide any facts.

     

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  44.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), Oct 21st, 2010 @ 2:16pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Considering that one of the core theses on this website is that profit is often a poor and ineffective motivation, your comments are surprising.

    Ah, blatantly misleading troll is blatantly misleading. We spend an awful lot of time showing folks how to make more money.

    It is true that we've posted about a few bits of research concerning *certain* types of jobs where *certain types* of monetary incentives do not improve performance, but it's crazy to generalize that to saying "a core theses" of this site is that profit is poor and ineffective for motivation.

    How could that be a core thesis when I don't believe it's true. The point of posting those studies (from Dan Pink's book) is to better understand how to make sure that the profit incentives are properly aligned. It's not to say profit is not an incentive.

    Only someone willfully misreading what we write would say that.

     

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  45.  
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    Richard (profile), Oct 21st, 2010 @ 2:21pm

    Re: Re:

    In the early days of printing many authors (eg Martin Luther) complained about piracy because pirates published inaccurate editions. Modern digital technology fixes this problem...

     

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  46.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), Oct 21st, 2010 @ 2:24pm

    Re:

    The problem is this doesn't necessarily work. While it's great that Watson had success with this, I'm not so certain it would be so in every case. It requires just the right combination of circumstances. For instance, if Lars Ulrich were to do the same thing with a music file, I can't see sales rising all that much as a result.

    Wait, it did work? It worked for Lieber (not Watson) so claiming it doesn't work doesn't make sense. And no one claimed that this *exact* thing works for everyone, but you'd be amazed at how much embracing your fans can lead to greater sales. You mention Lars Ulrich, but I would say a decent comp for Ulrich would be Trent Reznor -- and it seemed to work out great for him (http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20090201/1408273588.shtml)

    This doesn't mean that the RIAA and IP lawyers are always right. It does mean that maybe when you are dealing with smaller scale stuff this works, or maybe the particular kind of people who will buy Underground or maybe the moon was just full, who knows.

    Ah, the "it only works for these folks" argument. Every time I show another example, someone's quick to claim it's an exception. There are too many exceptions at this point. Look, I've put together examples of big, medium and small artists embracing this concept. It works: http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20091119/1634117011.shtml

    There are some concrete things we do know. One is that for small, independent artists the model of selling your music on iTunes isn't working all that well. (There are only a teeny tiny number of people selling their art that way that make a living at it -- do the math -- even if you collected the whole $1.99 per song you would need to sell tens of thousands of copies to make a minimal wage). There is an up-front capital cost to making art -- it doesn't just come magically out of your fingers in two seconds, you have to spend a significant amount of time. Essentially that's what a record deal or book advance does -- it pays you for the time so you can eat while you write (or draw).

    Yes, selling infinitely available content tends not to be a good business model, and yes, creating something involves scarcities. All of which we've covered.

    You can't react to piracy with heavy-handed lawsuits, not in an online world. But you can't just dismiss it either. For instance, I am old enough to remember when cassette tapes were going to kill the music industry. Obviously they didn't. But the product cycle for putting out an album has increased a lot in the last 30 years, and that's got to be accounted for as well.

    Who said anything about "dismissing" it? We didn't. This very example was about the opposite -- it was about embracing it. And I disagree that the "product cycle" for putting out an album has increased. If anything, it's greatly decreased, because it's now much easier to do pretty much everything: recording, editing, mastering, distributing, promoting are all easier. When Radiohead did In Rainbows, they released it *days* after they finished putting it together. The lifecycle is shrinking, not expanding.

    For comics, it's actually a little easier as most people don't read them on screens (yet) but the problem there is getting people to pay for anything online at all, especially given the time you spend making a comic. Watson was lucky.

    Lieber, not Watson, and he wasn't lucky. Embracing your fans and giving them a reason to buy works. Don't knock it until you've tried it.

     

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  47.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 21st, 2010 @ 2:38pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Making your own work and posting it for free would be competition. That would be hard, though.

    It's really not that hard though.

     

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  48.  
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    Bas Grasmayer (profile), Oct 21st, 2010 @ 2:39pm

    I wish the graph would show some numbers, or at least a hint of them... :(

     

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  49.  
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    Dark Helmet (profile), Oct 21st, 2010 @ 2:42pm

    Re: Re:

    "People paid to do things get lazy. People doing things to get paid work much harder."

    Mike, I think you should be making note of Chris' words here and begin working them in when explaining incentives to create, because this is about as perfectly said as I can imagine....

     

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  50.  
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    Andrew (profile), Oct 21st, 2010 @ 2:59pm

    Re: Re:

    And FYI, I just realized I left out the scenario where it's pirated, 100x people see it, but 10x people don't buy it. Shit happens, but look at it this way: you likely didn't *lose* sales either. It's likely not that x/2 people bought it instead in this scenario.

    But also, this one is irrelevant to this conversation, which was someone saying, how dare they circumvent his wishes by giving him more money!

     

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  51.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 21st, 2010 @ 3:01pm

    Re:

    Yeah... I can't check the comic book author's site while I'm at work, so I'm not sure that he doesn't give numbers, but all this talk of people making money is mostly worthless without some perspective (Not that the discussion isn't appreciated). Real discussions of cost, revenue, and profit would be a godsend, if only for the reason that we should be honest with up and coming artists about what they can expect to make, even when they "succeed". I understand that no one likes to disclose their earnings, mainly because I presume a) they are not impressive and that can affect one's credibility; or b) they've made a lot of money and are not interested in being hassled to loan it out.

    Same goes for talking about increased "revenues"; I want to know about profits. I'm sure that a band like U2 circulates A LOT of money, but let's get a breakdown of expenses. They tour with several 18-wheelers in tow, that HAS to cost a pretty penny.

    There was one time that I saw a comment from Suzanne Lainson that honestly discussed the income and expenditures of an artist who grossed around 30K a year. That was one of the more enlightening posts I've ever read on the net. It's inspired me to be more open when discussing finances, even though as a sample-based artist it sets me up for a world of trouble down the line. Ah, c'est la vie. Anything to help out a new artist.

     

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    Karl (profile), Oct 21st, 2010 @ 3:10pm

    Re: Re:

    all this talk of people making money is mostly worthless without some perspective

    Well, here's the real perspective:

    No matter how much or how little he made, it was 10x more than what he was making.

    Techdirt is not suggesting this is a get-rich-quick scheme. They're just showing that you'll be better off than you would otherwise.

     

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    Majora, Oct 21st, 2010 @ 3:21pm

    Re:

    Who cares. Read the actual article instead of nitpicking stupid shit, you stupid shit.

     

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  54.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 21st, 2010 @ 3:32pm

    Re: Re: Satistically possible, but highly improbable

    What surprises me is the amount of times "Worked for him, wouldn't work for anyone else." is repeated.

    I mean, when will people start noticing that repeating that sentence even twice (about two different persons, of course) makes it self-contradict?

     

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    Overcast (profile), Oct 21st, 2010 @ 3:39pm

    "But "piracy" is killing the ability to earn money, right?"

    Yes, yes it does.

    Just like 'free radio' hurt music sales.
    Just like 'free TV' hurt Cinema sales.
    Just like 'free books' at the library hurt books sales.
    Just like 'free education' on the web is hurting University Enrollment
    Just like 'free transportation' (walking) is hurting car sales.
    Just like 'free food' at soup kitchens is hurting the restaurant industry.
    Just like 'free swimming' in the river/pond/ocean is hurting swim club enrollment.
    Just like 'free exercise' (walking/jogging) is hurting exercise equipment sales.
    Just like 'free internet' is hurting broadband sales.
    Just like 'free Operating Systems' are hurting Microsoft's sales.

     

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    Overcast (profile), Oct 21st, 2010 @ 3:40pm

    Oh, sorry...

    /sarcasm off

     

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    Memyself, Oct 21st, 2010 @ 3:42pm

    "Now, the typical reaction is to freak out, scream "piracy," whine about "losses" and demand that "something must be done."

    That's not really a true stereotype of comics professionals. Comic book artists and writers have a long history of civil discourse with users of sites like 4Chan and Scans Daily, with only a few loud exceptions. What Lieber did may be admirable. But it's absolutely not the exception to the rule.

     

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    Chargone (profile), Oct 21st, 2010 @ 3:46pm

    Re:

    for making money off of a comic available for free online, pirated or otherwise, i encourage you to go look at ... umm... a reasonable number of well known webcomics, actually.

    i know for a fact that the author of Megatokyo makes his living off his comic (well, the associated store. one of the products in which is the hardcopy of the comic). a comic, it should be noted, which is available for free online (in fact, he cops the expense of making it so.) it has also been translated into other languages, by other people, and again put up for free online (at different sites).

    that said, he makes his money off scarce goods, not the infinite ones. (books, shirts, posters, coffie mugs, blankets, all sorts of stuff)

    other webcomics do something similar. just got to look around.

    other than that, one really needs evidence to back up whether it works for others or not. the problem is, for it to work for others, said others have to do it Right, and what is right in this context varies depending on the exact situation... if they do it 'right' and it still doesn't work, of course, then the whole thing's a failure, sure.

    the question comes down to: is it piracy that's the problem, or is it the author's inability to take advantage of the resulting public awareness? to be honest, if your work is actually good, the number of people who would have bought your work and don't because it's available free is probably in the single digits (unless they hate your publisher but you're so awesome they would cave and buy it anyway but... 'oh! free! don't have to give money to the evil!', but that's a separate issue), while the number who would not have bought it due to not being aware of it or not knowing how good it is reduces, partially to people who decide it's definitely what they want, and do go buy it (gained sales!) and partially to people who now know it's not what they want and don't (these are not sales. these are people who, had they bought it, may have felt ripped off and thus avoiding any later works, who now at the very least have a higher opinion of you than they might otherwise, making some them at least a little easier to convince if you make a different product later)

    ... or at least, this is my understanding of things.

     

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    Steve Lieber, Oct 21st, 2010 @ 4:07pm

    The artist of the comic says hi.

    Hi. I'm the guy who drew the comic. I wish I could speak to all of the great discussion here but I'm not qualified to be any kind of pundit on copyright issues. I knew my stuff is available in "pirated" editions because, well, *everyone's* is. My reasons for not pursuing a digital audience were mostly aesthetic. I just think my comics read much better on paper. It's been really illuminating to hear from so many people who disagree.

    Also, for those that want to read the original 4chan discussion, (which has been 404'd) I've got a partial archive on my site. http://www.undergroundthecomic.com/4chan_thread_20614483.html

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 21st, 2010 @ 4:28pm

    Re:

    "But hey, screw what the artist wants. I guess it's a good thing that his fans knew what license he should have used better than he did and acted accordingly."

    Apparently they did, since he is now happier and richer.

     

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    Mike Masnick (profile), Oct 21st, 2010 @ 4:35pm

    Re: The artist of the comic says hi.

    Hey Steve,

    Thanks for stopping by.

    My reasons for not pursuing a digital audience were mostly aesthetic. I just think my comics read much better on paper. It's been really illuminating to hear from so many people who disagree.


    Aha. Interesting. I think you could still make both versions available, while also making your own preference clear, and saying something along the lines of "hey, these really read better on paper, and here's how to check it out..."

     

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    Lawrence D'Oliveiro, Oct 21st, 2010 @ 4:56pm

    Re: But We Must Have A Guarantee Of Success

    Some guy said:

    The problem is this doesn't necessarily work. While it's great that [this particular businessperson] had success with this, I'm not so certain it would be so in every case.

    So you won’t engage in a business transaction unless you have a guarantee of success up front? Is that how you think Capitalism works?

     

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  63.  
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    TtfnJohn (profile), Oct 21st, 2010 @ 5:43pm

    Re: Re:

    I'd say that by doing what he did the author retained that control, wouldn't you?

     

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  64.  
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    TtfnJohn (profile), Oct 21st, 2010 @ 6:21pm

    Re:

    "For instance, I am old enough to remember when cassette tapes were going to kill the music industry. Obviously they didn't. But the product cycle for putting out an album has increased a lot in the last 30 years, and that's got to be accounted for as well."

    So am I. I'm also old enough to remember when the first high range reel to reels came out in the 50s and early 60s that that would kill music, Well the recording industry, not music but the recording industry.

    The cassette came out and didn't hurt a thing. I'd hard to argue that the sales of music did anything but explode through most of the 70s when cassettes and "piracy" were running wild.

    As for the argument about the product cycle being 30 times more expensive these days let me point out a few things.

    1) Anyone with a decent garage, a decent desktop machine, a few Open Source pieces of software, two or thee high range microphones and a rudimentary knowledge of acoustics can set up a recording studio in a matter of days.

    2) A CD/DVD/BluRay recorder is included in most PC's these days and they can turn out recordings very quickly. Add two or three more and now you're burning as an indy! So no real need for a huge pressing plant unless you're Universal Music though even for them the cost of producing shiny disks has fallen to effectively $0.00.

    3) The vast majority of artists aren't signed to contracts that allow them to be paid much at all now any more than they were in the 60s. Including The Beatles. Who knows, maybe less.

    Okay, so maybe the cost of payola has gone through the roof, given the crappy playlists on over the air radio these days.

    In fact the cost of production has gone down, way down.

    And given that the "girl" bands around now, stuff we called teeny bopper music in the 60s is just as much bopper stuff now as it was then only run through so many filters and effects that they all sound the same. (Easily done, see point #1). And it's just as much disposable tripe now as it was then. But it still sells. It sells tons! With little or no effort on the part of the recording industry.

    Way back in the golden age you seem to remember so well the single was the main way of spreading music and no one except the recording industry made much on them either. But by the 70s the single was actually promotional material for the album. I'd suggest that the $1.99 single on iTunes et al are the same now.

    I'm not disputing the up front cost of making music such as instruments, time to learn them, song writing and all the rest of it. I am disputing, vigorously your assertion that the cost has gone up 30 fold. I'd suggest it's actually gone down. Considerably.

    And no one is automatically entitled to be paid for their art. If it's crap they won't be cause they won't be able to sell it. If it's good and they engage their audience as Watson has they will sell it and they will make money.

    Oh, and I agree with Watson, I'd rather have a printed copy of a comic than a pixilized scanned version on my screen. So, if it's good I'll buy it.

    Now, it's time to go off and look into it.

     

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    darryl, Oct 21st, 2010 @ 6:23pm

    Pretty picture, nothing factual.

    Why have you left out the scale of the graph ?

    Would it be because it does not support your 'argument', what are the numbers.

    Looking at that graph, I can imagine easily that the numbers are 0,0,0,0,0,0,1,0,0,0,0,5.

    How are you able to guage the success of this system, when you have next to ZERO actualy, factual information.

    But hey, you were able to put out a misleading graph, and we all know that its easier to get a point across with pretty pictures.

    Saves on reader thinking I assume..

    But when you have a graph that is sitting on zero MOST OF THE TIME, it does not take much apart from some false scaling, to show a massive peak, with just ONE sale.

    We do not know, and Mike does not want us to know the numbers, it would be embarrasing for him..

    That's why Mike has decided for us that he will only provide information that supports his story, even if the big picture shows that Mike is totally confused, and wrong.

    Sure if you are not selling ANY of your works, being able to sell 1 or 2 would be something to talk about..

    But more significant, is that by itself, on its own merits its a failure, its only because a VERY small number got some copies that mabey gave him a few sales.

    Still a failure..

     

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  66.  
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    TtfnJohn (profile), Oct 21st, 2010 @ 6:25pm

    Re: The artist of the comic says hi.

    Actually I think that once the argument about whether or not what you did works, I think you'll find most of us would agree with you that a comic looks better on paper than it does on a screen.

    The argument here is that engaging your fans helped or caused that spike in sales, which I hope is continuing, rather than which media is better.

    Thanks for coming by!

     

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    Ben, Oct 21st, 2010 @ 6:32pm

    wow a lot of people posting here that don't really understand /co/

    "People must have liked the book if it was re-posted enough for the author to find it on there.

    90% of articles and threads die in a real short amount of time- usually within ten minutes."

    This was posted on /co/ not /b/. /co/ is far far smaller and has threads that can last for days.

    "Besides, it would take a middle-aged person with nerves of steel to troll 4Chan looking for a PDF version of their book and then talk to the pirates."
    Try going to a board that isn't /b/ some time? /b/'s a festering shit pile but the rest of the place is full of pretty cool guys.

    Also the large majority of people on /co/ want to support the people that write good comics. Because comics are such a small audience comics that don't get supported get canceled. Pretty much everyone that posts there is aware of this and has had a favorite comic canceled due to lack of readers.

    We've also had a fair few authors drop by some posting there own works. Warren Ellis springs to mind posting a whole heap of old comics (As well as publishing his own free online comic every week)

    @Steve, you're a fucking bro, much respect.

     

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    Anonymous Poster, Oct 21st, 2010 @ 7:04pm

    Re:

    To put it another way: there's a reason we call ourselves /co/mrades.

     

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  69.  
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    Anonymous, Oct 21st, 2010 @ 9:35pm

    Re: Re:

    obviously you're a newfag on 4chan :I

     

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  70.  
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    vbevan (profile), Oct 21st, 2010 @ 10:37pm

    Re: Re:

    Not to put words in your mouth, but that comment does make you sound pro piracy.

    I mean, that's essentially what this was correct? Assuming he had digital versions of the comic for sale previously.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 21st, 2010 @ 10:45pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    The real question is, can he triforce?



    ▲ ▲

    ...damnit!

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 21st, 2010 @ 10:59pm

    Re:

    I find it amazing that you've got sand in your vagina about this when it is, in fact, proven that he MADE money from 4chan snagging his comics. Made far more sales from them freely grabbing his goods and showing them off then he had from legitimate sources.

    Are you really trying to complain that something good happened here? Are you trying to take the moral high ground, or just being an idiot?

     

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    teka, Oct 21st, 2010 @ 11:03pm

    Re: Pretty picture, nothing factual.

    Hey darryl, thanks for chiming in with one of your amazing opinions! Lets break this down into a few points..

    1) The image mike used is the same one used by the comic book guy in question. This is not part of a Masnik world domination plot, no matter what the voices say.

    2)Your computer has a spellchecker feature, or should. make use of it.

    3) If you followed the link (which you did not) you would notice another picture, a sales page Full of people suddenly buying more books.

    4) Even if the increase was just as you imagine "Looking at that graph, I can imagine easily that the numbers are 0,0,0,0,0,0,1,0,0,0,0,5." That means the sales had either an Infinite increase (0 to 5 books something like that? i know that the gap between Nothing and Something is pretty big anyhow.. not a mathematician) or at 500% increase (1 to 5) at zero cost to the writer. This is a good thing, not a conspiracy to hide secret truths from you or anyone else.

     

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  74.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 21st, 2010 @ 11:11pm

    Re: Pretty picture, nothing factual.

    Speaking of failure, can we get Darryl added to the thesaurus as a synonym for it?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 21st, 2010 @ 11:24pm

    Re: Re:

    ...a comic, it should be noted, which is available for free online (in fact, he cops the expense of making it so.)

    I remember running across this webcomic through a slashdot poll titled "The main reason I got broadband access".

    That reminds me, volume 6 is out. I have to get the one with the "PMGD-540" gag.

     

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    Mike Masnick (profile), Oct 21st, 2010 @ 11:46pm

    Re: Pretty picture, nothing factual.

    Why have you left out the scale of the graph ?


    I didn't. The artist did.

    Looking at that graph, I can imagine easily that the numbers are 0,0,0,0,0,0,1,0,0,0,0,5.


    If you actually looked at the blog post written by the artist, you would realize that's impossible and wrong. That's because he also shows 1 page (of multiple pages) orders, which shows at least 24 orders, suggesting at a very minimum 24 people bought it, but almost certainly significantly more.

    You keep claiming I hide the facts and that you go dig them out to uncover them for me -- yet, in this case, you clearly didn't go look at the actual source material, and didn't realize that the image I left out actually makes the case even stronger.

    Details, details.

     

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    nobody special, Oct 22nd, 2010 @ 12:36am

    I don't personally consider 4chan "storytime" type posts to be piracy. For one thing, they are an act of a stream of consciousness. It is like reading the story aloud in front of an audience. Now, sure some people are against even that, but I think its unrealistic to expect human beings not to share what they think. Most of the time people post these things, they add commentary and an honest heartfelt desire for readers to also get into and enjoy said story. To go out and buy it and get hooked as well. For another, the transient nature of 4chan posts -- they expire into the ether for the most part, ensures that nobody is profiting or keeping said images instead of going out and buying it. Theres no difference between reading it posted on 4chan and browsing it in a book store. Either way, nobody is getting money or losing money. Either way, the motivation to purchase is the same.

    That's not to say copyrighted material doesn't find it's way there or anywhere else on the internet, but it would be foolish of the comicbook industry to stop it. The problem with Comics today is they're too expensive to print cheaply, thus they don't have the audience they once had for ad revenue. Charging $1 or $2 an issue isn't going to help either. All you can eat ad supported subscriptions in a non-DRM'd format (like a cbr/cbz) for viewing on an ipad or android tablet or computer screen would probably be the best option. I suppose you could charge a premium for new content. Personally, I buy issues at the store, and often I end up putting them away in a box and then read the scanned digital copy online later on.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 22nd, 2010 @ 12:42am

    Providing samples in this industry

    I'll make one comment about this industry. Usually the publishers provide limited samples/previews. Think of them as the equivalent of movie trailers.

    One example is on the "Issue 1 preview" on the Underground web site. There you can view the cover and 5 out of the 32 pages. Also available is the non-colored version of the whole first issue is pdf format. This seems to be the case before 4Chan did their thing.

    I believe this is the case with most publishers. They'll provide samples on their web sites to get people interested.

    What they haven't done is take the rather large step of providing the whole series online 6-8 months after the release of the concluding issue and/or trade paperback.

    I suppose Image comics (the publisher of Underground) can talk to Baen Books about doing this sort of thing.

     

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    Lisae Boucher (profile), Oct 22nd, 2010 @ 4:07am

    Increadible! I just bought the comic too, now it has been here and after viewing it's artwork at 4chan! :-) Yeah, if the product looks good, it's an additional boost to sales...

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 22nd, 2010 @ 4:09am

    Re: Re: Re:

    I think he's making a matter of fact statement, not one of support.

    Besides, when you look at his sales numbers, piracy was what he needed. How much money has he lost because he wasn't pirated?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 22nd, 2010 @ 4:52am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

     

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    The eejit (profile), Oct 22nd, 2010 @ 5:09am

    Re: Pretty picture, nothing factual.

    Dude, Shutt he hell up. You're like, my mirror image or something.

    Lieber has made money out of this as a direct result of /co/. Lieber engaged those who liked his works. The poster offered to take it down, as soon as they found out, and Lieber asked them not to.

    Also, 'saves on reader thinking'? What mind control drugs are you on? Remember the graph is based off of online sales through the website. I know people who bought the comic from Forbidden Planet, or Travelling Man franchises here.

    So get your head out of the opium fields, go out and get a real life, instead of trolling from your bridge.

     

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  83.  
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    Jamie, Oct 22nd, 2010 @ 6:12am

    Re:

    Suckerfish -

    Can you tell me - what amount did this author "deserve"? How do you determine what a given artist "deserves"? Who makes that determination?

    Are desserts entirely dependent on the legal system in place for copyright, or are they some sort of morally intuited thing somehow separate?

    Or, you know, you can just keep up with the false claims about theft, implicitly claim yet again that this is an exeption, and make yet more tired arguments over and over.

     

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    Hurr durr, Oct 22nd, 2010 @ 6:35am

    Re:

    Not by default, but you can if you want to. Notice the names on the replies in the picture not being "Anonymous"? Accounts.

     

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  85.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 22nd, 2010 @ 6:39am

    Nice! Talent wins!

     

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    bob, Oct 22nd, 2010 @ 9:43am

    Re: Re:

    Typical blame the victim mentality. Did someone break into your car last night? Don't cry. Mike is just telling you, "Welcome to how markets work."

    What horsemanure. This is how markets don't work.

     

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    bob, Oct 22nd, 2010 @ 9:46am

    Re:

    Did he really make much money? I think the scale of this is pretty small. He sold 20-25 copies.

     

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    bob, Oct 22nd, 2010 @ 9:48am

    Re: Re:

    I think it was his personal appearance not the piracy that made a difference here. That and the fact that the book was posted one page at a time. I don't think the movie industry would care if 4chan circulated the movies one frame at a time instead of an easy to view file structure.

     

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  89.  
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    bob, Oct 22nd, 2010 @ 10:15am

    Re: Re: Re: Satistically possible, but highly improbable

    The idea has been around for a long time. The Grateful Dead has been letting people tape their concerts since like forever. Open source is 20+ years old. Yet this blog stops what it's doing and dances a jig or two because some guy sells 20-30 books because of some free copies. So I'm beginning to ask why aren't we hearing more success stories instead of the handful that this blog trots out. There are hundreds of hot selling books at Amazon at any time and how many of them release their books for free? Usually none. If there were really something to this idea, we would start seeing more of it by now.

     

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  90.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), Oct 22nd, 2010 @ 10:53am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Typical blame the victim mentality. Did someone break into your car last night? Don't cry. Mike is just telling you, "Welcome to how markets work."

    Not that this needs to be explained to you *again*, but you already know damn well that breaking into a car involves an actual loss of property. Please try to keep up with everyone.

     

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  91.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), Oct 22nd, 2010 @ 10:54am

    Re: Re: Re:

    I think it was his personal appearance not the piracy that made a difference here.

    Which is pretty much the whole point. Did you not get that?

     

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    Mike Masnick (profile), Oct 22nd, 2010 @ 10:55am

    Re: Re:

    Did he really make much money? I think the scale of this is pretty small. He sold 20-25 copies.

    Already responded to that. He sold a lot more than that. But nice try minimizing success stories. Are you really so desperate to hold onto a dead model that you have to insult folks who are succeeding where you fear to tread?

     

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    tusam, Oct 22nd, 2010 @ 12:12pm

    I'd be really interested in seeing the sales graph after being slashdotted.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 22nd, 2010 @ 12:22pm

    Piracy

    Piracy is becoming free publicity.

     

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    bob, Oct 22nd, 2010 @ 12:40pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Loss of property? Nah. Many stolen cars are recovered after a few weeks. The kids were just sharing them.

    And if you're so hot on loss of property limitations, consider rape. If some woman complains, you just tell her, "Welcome to how dating markets work."

    Geez.

     

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  96.  
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    bob, Oct 22nd, 2010 @ 1:14pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Uh, no. I was sort of believing that the final sentence was acting as a real summary and the last sentence just mocked the idea that piracy is hurting the ability to earn money. My point is that his sales success had little to do with piracy. If the book were pirated and he didn't log in, the sales blip would have been dramatically lower.

    But "piracy" is killing the ability to earn money, right?

    As it is, there was no piracy. The comic book has always been available for free from his own site. This is just a ginned up publicity stunt.

     

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  97.  
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    Josh Scolar, Oct 22nd, 2010 @ 1:14pm

    The reason for the whining

    All the people who said "this only works once" have noticed that the author had an usually good, unusually carefully made book.

    They're pissed off that engaging your customer base won't work if you put out random pablum that gets lost in the noise, if you lack talent or experience etc.

    This example doesn't answer the question "how do people how have very little talent or beauty or charm make money off their work?"

     

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  98.  
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    bob, Oct 22nd, 2010 @ 1:19pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    It turns out that this was never a case of piracy at all because he was already giving it away for free.

    http://www.undergroundthecomic.com/download-it-free/

    This is all just about how some author found that talking with fans helps sell books. BFD.

     

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  99.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 22nd, 2010 @ 1:22pm

    Re:

    you don't have accounts, but you do have names and such you can go as. Did you see the writers name on that post? That's what he's talking about.

    Wow, some people gotta get it spelled out.

     

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  100.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), Oct 22nd, 2010 @ 1:24pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Loss of property? Nah. Many stolen cars are recovered after a few weeks. The kids were just sharing them.


    Your cluelessness knows no bounds, apparently. Learn the difference between rivalrous & excludable goods before you look even more like a fool.

    And if you're so hot on loss of property limitations, consider rape. If some woman complains, you just tell her, "Welcome to how dating markets work."


    You are a sick individual. Seriously. Really sick. Seek help. Now.

     

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  101.  
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    bob, Oct 22nd, 2010 @ 1:27pm

    Re: Re: Pretty picture, nothing factual.

    5 or 25? It's not that big difference. The whole thing just seems a bit packaged, like a PR stunt from a fast talking hack. He's already been giving away copies and so it's not piracy.

    http://www.undergroundthecomic.com/download-it-free/

     

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  102.  
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    petkov, Oct 22nd, 2010 @ 1:45pm

    Re: Re:

    sorry to break it to ya but there is a problem with your "impeccable logic". Your point 2b(but 10x people buy it. He makes much more money.) is just an assumption and NOT a hard Reality. Do you have hard proof that is what happens 100# of the cases? Or Are YOU personally a publisher of work that can be digitized so you can present a proof that is what happens? remember most people like free stuff and they will happily not pay. HARD Reality man. RIAA got the data to proves it. Talk to most people who are artists and creators of some kind and they wll tell you piracy doesnt NOT increase their sales in most cases like you claim. Or are you just talking bull^#6$ and simply making shit up just to "prove" your point?
    Calling people same and insane doesnt add anything to your argument. It's just name calling.

     

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    adam, Oct 22nd, 2010 @ 1:46pm

    Re: giving it away for free

    Looks to me like he just started doing that as a result of the 4chan thread. See this post:
    http://www.undergroundthecomic.com/2010/10/whole-book-for-free-or-learning-something-from-4ch an/

     

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    Mike Masnick (profile), Oct 22nd, 2010 @ 1:51pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Uh, no. I was sort of believing that the final sentence was acting as a real summary and the last sentence just mocked the idea that piracy is hurting the ability to earn money. My point is that his sales success had little to do with piracy. If the book were pirated and he didn't log in, the sales blip would have been dramatically lower.

    But "piracy" is killing the ability to earn money, right?


    Can you really not put 2+2 together? Bob, you impress me daily with your inability to comprehend simple logic.

    Yes, the point is that piracy is not the problem, because IF you respond to it smartly, you can do better because of it. No one said that "just let pirates do what they do and money comes rolling in." We're saying you need to respond in a way that embraces what your fans want and *if* you do that, "piracy" is not a problem. Exactly what we said. Your focus on the fact that his engagement was all that mattered is the whole freaking point which you still can't seem to fathom.

    No wonder you're so bitter. Simple concepts elude you.

     

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  105.  
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    petkov, Oct 22nd, 2010 @ 1:53pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    or maybe the scenario that happens is the most likely one: 100X see it but only 0.0001X bother to actually do the so called "buy thing" by spending actual money and the artist has to find another job. But as you wills say: shit happens, yeah.

     

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  106.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 22nd, 2010 @ 2:18pm

    Re:

    But you can create IDs on 4chan.

     

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  107.  
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    bob, Oct 22nd, 2010 @ 2:35pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Uh, no. I'm not the one who still can't get real numbers. I'm not the one who was so excited to find one supporting example that I printed a graph with no x-axis. I'm not the one tossing around phrases like "a lot more than that." When I look at the graph, I see 25-30. If you can get some real numbers, come back and tell us.

    And you really should pay attention to the other zeros because they tell a story. He's already been giving away his books for free. He's already been asking, pleading, for just a donation. He's following your playbook. He's trying to follow the Techdirt school of marketing. Yet on the other days he's selling zero. Can we at least agree that the graph shows zero on all but two days?

     

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  108.  
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    bob, Oct 22nd, 2010 @ 2:36pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Hey, I'm not the cold, heartless jerk who taunts those who've had their hard work grabbed from their hands.

     

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  109.  
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    David Collier-Brown, Oct 22nd, 2010 @ 2:38pm

    Probability = 1.0 (re Statistically possible, but highly improbable)

    Once the impossible has been eliminated, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth. (S. Holmes, consulting detective)

    It worked for him, and it also worked for O'Reilly, specifically with the first edition of "Using Samba". An electronic copy of the book was made available free with every copy of the program, as part of a deal with the team.

    To our surprise, the book sold like hotcakes. It seems that even hard-core techies buy books.

    I've now started to chose books based on whether they're on-line. If they are, I can tell if they're good, and I buy the good ones.

    --dave (co-author of the first edition) c-b

     

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  110.  
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    bob, Oct 22nd, 2010 @ 2:38pm

    Re: Re: Re: Pretty picture, nothing factual.

    This is what you're missing: giving away the copies is generating zero copies on the other days. The zeros are telling. And if a spike to 25 is a great day, it's not a very sustainable business.

     

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  111.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), Oct 22nd, 2010 @ 2:49pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    And you really should pay attention to the other zeros because they tell a story. He's already been giving away his books for free. He's already been asking, pleading, for just a donation. He's following your playbook.

    Bob, seriously. How many times must we tell you. That's *not* the playbook we suggest. I mean, seriously, why not try READING what we actually write, rather than making yourself look so incredibly stupid every day:

    http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20080522/1545021204.shtml

    I say exactly the opposite of what you think I say.

    You keep making yourself look more and more foolish.

     

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  112.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), Oct 22nd, 2010 @ 2:51pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Hey, I'm not the cold, heartless jerk who taunts those who've had their hard work grabbed from their hands.

    Please explain (1) who's taunting anyone and (2) where ANYONE has had their work grabbed from their hands. Bob, if the work is still in your hands at the end of the day, no one grabbed it from you.

    Time to understand basic stuff here.

     

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  113.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), Oct 22nd, 2010 @ 2:55pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Pretty picture, nothing factual.

    This is what you're missing: giving away the copies is generating zero copies on the other days. The zeros are telling. And if a spike to 25 is a great day, it's not a very sustainable business.

    Okay, Bob, let's compare that to the method that you seem to prefer. The one where you sit there and do nothing. Guess what happens then? Yet get zeros ALL THE TIME. So why is it that YOU ignore all the zeros in the model you prefer? The vast majority of people who try to make money using the traditional methods that you so fucking love, end up making FUCK ALL. But you seem to love those models. The new models let MORE people make SOME money -- more than they would have otherwise, and you ignore every one of the zeroes.

    The other day you suggested that no video game was successful unless it made $200 million. Then you compared authors doing well with new models to some best sellers. But, what you DON'T do (because you're unable to comprehend such basic logic) is that you have to compare it to how these people would be doing if THEY didn't engage and didn't use new models.

    No one said if you do this you're guaranteed "success." We're saying if you engage with fans you DO BETTER THAN YOU WOULD OTHERWISE.

    How hard is it for you to recognize simple concepts? Seriously. The more you post here the more ridiculous you look.

     

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  114.  
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    Ersun Warncke, Oct 22nd, 2010 @ 3:56pm

    Not an isolated case...

    I would like to point out that this same pattern has been repeated many times over, even with major media.

    Movie "piracy" started with bootlegs in South East Asia because the movie studios did staggered releases where they recycled prints from North America around the world, with the poorest markets getting them last, a year after release and in terrible condition.

    Because the movie studios refused to provide a reasonable copy of their product legitimately, the black market came in and met the demand that they refused to service. That is just how markets work.

    Guess what? After piracy started the movie studios had an incentive to start doing world wide releases and end their ridiculous practice of discriminating against non western markets. As a result, international revenue for films has skyrocketed, and now exceeds U.S. movie grosses in most cases.

    The movie studios are making more money than they ever were before, and it is because piracy forced them to change their stupid business model.

    Free markets and competition do work in some cases. Intellectual property is a government imposed monopoly that inhibits the operation of the free market. All that IP does is breed laziness and incompetence while lining the pockets of lawyers. People waste time and money fighting over IP instead of actually producing and delivering a product. It is pure waste in economic terms.

    Basically, people who whine about piracy should stop crying and stop wasting their money on lawyers and focus on making a better product and serving their customers. A government enforced monopoly that guarantees profits may seem like a nice thing, but in the long run all it does is dampen the competitive forces that actually drive productivity in the market place. Any company that relies on IP for their profitability will fail in the long run. Make a product people want to buy, and you will succeed.

     

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  115.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 22nd, 2010 @ 4:04pm

    Re:

    You can sign up for a name. They call you a tripfag for it. You do get a name and a password so you can take down your own pics if you like.

     

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  116.  
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    crb3 (profile), Oct 22nd, 2010 @ 5:11pm

    And I'm one of the people who bought it because of that.

    I already had one Samba book on the shelf (from SAMS) that was little or no help with the connections problems I was having on my network, so I was gunshy about buying another useless one. The O'Reilly online-freebie let me read it to see the quality, and the troubleshooting tree section led me to solving my network problem. Having gotten the benefit of that much, I wanted the book in handheld form to keep handy for reference so I went out and bought it. The sale wouldn't have happened without the freebie.

     

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  117.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 22nd, 2010 @ 6:58pm

    Re:

    He applied for a Gold account, obv.

     

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  118.  
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    chuck, Oct 22nd, 2010 @ 7:07pm

    Re:

    unless you get the 4chan gold account

     

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  119.  
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    chuck, Oct 22nd, 2010 @ 7:07pm

    Re:

    unless you get the 4chan gold account

     

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  120.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 22nd, 2010 @ 7:13pm

    Re:

    4chan doesn't encourage accounts, but you can get them..

     

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  121.  
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    Michael Giltz (profile), Oct 23rd, 2010 @ 10:09am

    Re: Re:

    Profitability is not an entitlement? Well, neither is free access to something I labored over.
    Is profitability not an entitlement for a grocery store? A gas station? A restaurant? Try taking stuff from them for free. Why is only artists who are lame for expecting people who want to access their work to pay for it?

     

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  122.  
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    Michael Giltz (profile), Oct 23rd, 2010 @ 10:21am

    Re: Re:

    Actually, it didn't. According to Billboard magazine,"Death Magnetic" only went platinum in the US. (Worldwide figures are hard to come by.) That means it only sold one million copies so far (and less than two million). Except for two EPs, this is the lowest selling studio album of their career. Of course, music sales are much lower across the board (which is due to???) and Metallica is a long way away from their career peak of 8 million copies of ...And Justice For All and 15 million copies of "Metallica." So the reasons may be debatable but it's not true to claim the album was pirated and sold "millions of copies" anyway. It is, in fact, the worst-selling studio album of their career.

     

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  123.  
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    Michael Giltz (profile), Oct 23rd, 2010 @ 10:32am

    Re:

    "Free" radio was a business model that paid artists and songwriters and studio musicians money every time their songs were paid in exchange for the right to play them. Jukeboxes, bar bands, restaurants that play music -- all of them are legally obliged to pay for that usage and that money heads back to the artists involved. In exchange, they get to sell ads, bring in customers who dance and buy beer, sell dinner in a nicer atmosphere.

    TV is also not an example of appropriating or taking access to something for free. Either the programming was created by the TV network itself or they paid for it and in exchange sold ads, etc.

    They don't compare to someone just taking something you've created it and providing access to it to anyone for free.

    Libraries are a good example when I argue that ebooks should not be limited to one device or saddled with stupid DRM or priced the same as hard copies, which is absurd.

     

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  124.  
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    Michael Giltz (profile), Oct 23rd, 2010 @ 10:35am

    Re: Re: The artist of the comic says hi.

    Hi Steve,
    Thanks for commenting. How long was the pirated version up before you noticed it and chose to engage them?

    I would argue that the graph/chart for this article is wrong. It's not the piracy that increased sales. It was you reaching out to fans. People may claim they have every right to access your work whenever they want for free. But when they actually get to know an artist, they start to feel dicky about it. It's harder to rip off a friend than a stranger.

     

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  125.  
    identicon
    Erika Moen, Oct 23rd, 2010 @ 4:24pm

    Hey guys, I'm the lady who runs Periscope Studio's Etsy store (Periscope being the studio of cartoonists that Steve Lieber helped found here in Portland, OR), where we're selling the signed and sketched in Underground copies.

    Though I can't account for sales through Amazon and other places, if you guys want to see exactly how many copies of Underground we've sold on Etsy it's really easy to see.
    http://www.etsy.com/shop/PeriscopeStudio/sold

    Our 4chan sales started October 18th, which currently (October 23) is on page 6 of our sales:
    http://www.etsy.com/shop/PeriscopeStudio/sold?page=6

    If you go back even further in time on that link, you can see we were only selling a couple Undergrounds a month before the 4chan + reportage of it happened.

    As of this posting, through Etsy we've sold 154 copies of Underground/the individual Underground issues in the last five days.

    Woops, and in the time it took me to write this we've gotten another sale. So make that 155.

    Personally, I'm fucking thrilled that people are giving Underground and its creators that attention and money that it deserves :)

     

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  126.  
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    Michael Giltz (profile), Oct 24th, 2010 @ 10:41am

    Re: Not an isolated case...

    I think the movie piracy in Asia etc compares better to digital music than this case. Hollywood movies weren't available on a timely basis because there wasn't the infrastructure of movie theaters for them to play in. Record labels refused to make music available digitally in any manner (not to mention eliminating the single both digitally and on CD in most cases). People reacted by accessing the movies or the digital music the only way they could: bootleg VHS tapes or bootleg DVDs or Napster. If fans ONLY want to read comic books/graphic novels online (maybe via their iPad), artists better make them available that way legally and reasonably or people will get them any way they can. In this case, the argument is that posting books online increases sales. I don't think anyone would argue that selling bootleg DVDs of major Hollywood movies boosted DVD sales or theatrical. Far from it. In general, all these arguments work for artists/musicians/filmmakers who haven't broken out. No one needs to access a free copy of Avatar in order to decide whether they want to see a new James Cameron film.

     

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  127.  
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    Michael Giltz (profile), Oct 24th, 2010 @ 10:46am

    Re:

    Thanks for the hard facts. Any info you can offer on sales you see spurred by unauthorized posting on 4chan of other comix that DIDN'T get reported widely, spur a reach out by the creators, etc? As a comparison, it would be nice to see if the simple act of posting on 4chan (or elsewhere) increased sales of other titles on its own, as a control to compare this to.

     

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  128.  
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    Michael Giltz (profile), Oct 24th, 2010 @ 10:55am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    So you can steal an apple from a grocery store and you can steal a book from a bookstore, but if the book is available digitally (even for sale legally) you can make your own copy and no one has been disadvantaged in any way? That's a pretty limited view of property and rights and ethics. The law isn't on your side but neither is morality. Instead of just focusing on what form something of value takes (be it physical or easily replicated digital), why not focus on the sweat and labor it takes to produce that item? Obviously, farmers sweat and labor to produce an apple and get it to market. But don't artists sweat and labor to create a book? Just because you can post it online and make it available for free to anyone in the world, that doesn't change the fact that they labored for months or years for little or no pay (in the vast majority of cases) to create that work. I agree copyright laws are way out of whack and that fair use is under assault. But none of that changes my obligation to not simply take someone's labor for free just because I can. What's the difference between a digital copy of a book and just printing my own edition and giving it away? The author still has the editions he printed, so clearly he's lost nothing, especially if I give it away for free. And heck, he'll always be able to sell more t-shirt and merch at the author readings.

     

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    Michael Giltz (profile), Oct 24th, 2010 @ 10:57am

    Re: Re:

    I think the real point -- as highlighted by the headline -- is that it was the author reaching out to the people online that were illegally posting his work that increased sales. People don't mind taking stuff for free from strangers. But they feel a little dicky about it when they get to know you. Plus, online media attention also is a factor.

     

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  130.  
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    Michael Giltz (profile), Oct 24th, 2010 @ 10:59am

    Re: And I'm one of the people who bought it because of that.

    That's great. But shouldn't it be the publisher/creator who has the right to decide whether they want to wisely go that route? Those who don't will lose sales, flounder and die. Those that do it successfully will flourish. That's the market in action, not third parties willy nilly doing whatever they want with someone else's labor.

     

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  131.  
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    Michael Giltz (profile), Oct 24th, 2010 @ 11:07am

    Re: Re:

    So, a book is "real" only if it's in hard form? You can steal an apple but you can't steal a book or a movie or an album because while they're all available physically they are also available digitally and digital doesn't count? Rather than worrying about what form something you value takes, why don't you think about the sweat and labor that went into creating it? The three years with little or no pay that an author might devote to a book doesn't disappear no matter how you consume it.

     

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  132.  
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    Jamie M., Oct 24th, 2010 @ 11:33am

    Re:

    Thank you for the links Erika! I just purchased the TPB :)

    http://www.etsy.com/shop/PeriscopeStudio

    -Jamie M.

     

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  133.  
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    Erika Moen, Oct 24th, 2010 @ 11:57am

    Re: Re:

    Hey Michael, I'm afraid what I posted is all the info I have. I'm just a member of Periscope Studio who also runs our Etsy store when I'm not working on comics myself, I can only account for our own sales of the stock my studiomates supply.

    (We're up to 161 Underground sales as of this posting)

     

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  134.  
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    Erika Moen, Oct 24th, 2010 @ 12:00pm

    Re: Re:

    Thank you!! I saw your note in your order, thank you so much for spelling my name right ;)

     

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  135.  
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    Modplan (profile), Oct 24th, 2010 @ 8:39pm

    Re: Re:

    "Free" radio was a business model that paid artists and songwriters and studio musicians money every time their songs were paid in exchange for the right to play them.


    In actual fact, payola scandals regularly show that getting heard for no cost to listeners is seemingly more valuable than the revenue gained from licensing to labels.

    http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/news/2010/07/payola-or-how-to-undermine-your-own-argum ent-to-congress.ars?

    Either the programming was created by the TV network itself or they paid for it and in exchange sold ads, etc.


    Which was enabled by letting people watch for free.

    They don't compare to someone just taking something you've created it and providing access to it to anyone for free.


    They quite clearly do. Both involve instances where it was judged more valuable to business to give something away for free because it was cheap enough to be made up for in other areas like advertising or CD sales.

     

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    Mike Masnick (profile), Oct 24th, 2010 @ 11:52pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    So you can steal an apple from a grocery store and you can steal a book from a bookstore, but if the book is available digitally (even for sale legally) you can make your own copy and no one has been disadvantaged in any way?

    I didn't say that. But it *is* a very different situation. The point is that if someone steals a book from a bookstore, you're out that book. That's a physical loss. However, if someone makes a *copy* of your digital file, there are TONS of ways to actually use that to your advantage. That's my point.

    That's a pretty limited view of property and rights and ethics. The law isn't on your side but neither is morality.

    Actually, we've discussed this over and over again on the site, so I'm going to assume you're new here. Before rewriting why you're wrong, I'll point you to a few links:

    http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20061115/020157.shtml
    http://www.techdirt.com/articles/2 0091014/0147596522.shtml
    http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20100519/0404029486.shtml

    Instead of just focusing on what form something of value takes (be it physical or easily replicated digital), why not focus on the sweat and labor it takes to produce that item?

    Because I understand that copyright law has nothing to do with sweat of the brow. If you're going to claim legal positions to back up your position, it helps to know the law.

    http://www.law.cornell.edu/copyright/cases/499_US_340.htm

    Since you appear to be unfamiliar with it, this court decision totally obliterates the idea that copyright has anything to do with "sweat of the brow."

    Obviously, farmers sweat and labor to produce an apple and get it to market. But don't artists sweat and labor to create a book?

    Yes, but they're not paid for their sweat. They're paid what the market will bear.

    Just because you can post it online and make it available for free to anyone in the world, that doesn't change the fact that they labored for months or years for little or no pay (in the vast majority of cases) to create that work.

    Fair enough. I labor over this website, where can I send you the bill you owe me for reading it?

    But none of that changes my obligation to not simply take someone's labor for free just because I can.

    Nor have I *ever* said that's okay. Why put words in my mouth? I am NOT defending unauthorized copying. I'm simply explaining (1) that it's impossible to stop (2) that you can use it to your advantage by actually responding smartly to it in a way that increases how much money you can make and (3) once you do that, you begin to realize it's not such a "problem" after all.

     

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  137.  
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    Stoffe, Oct 25th, 2010 @ 2:57am

    Re: Satistically possible, but highly improbable

    You are confusing /b/ with the rest of 4chan. The color of the screenshot clearly shows that it wasn't posted in /b/.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  138.  
    identicon
    holden page, Oct 26th, 2010 @ 7:32pm

    Re:

    I think you get the point

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  139.  
    icon
    RadialSkid (profile), Oct 27th, 2010 @ 4:31pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Profitability is not an entitlement for anyone. If a grocery store, gas station, or restaurant is not making a profit, it finds new means to make money or it shuts down. Look into either option, please.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  140.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 1st, 2010 @ 11:01pm

    Re: Who are you whining about exactly?

    Obscurity is a far worse fate than piracy. Not if you're a hipster!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  141.  
    identicon
    qwerty, Nov 2nd, 2010 @ 12:40pm

    Re:

    "For instance, if Lars Ulrich were to do the same thing with a music file, I can't see sales rising all that much as a result."

    Free market at work.

    Apparently, the comic book is very good.

    The last time Metallica put out something good was 1986.

    See the difference?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  142.  
    icon
    Swedish Turnip (profile), Oct 19th, 2011 @ 12:49am

    The Mike of time

    The interaction of Mike with his readers in these comments is obviously a poorly hidden attempt to boost his sales of unobtanium.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  143.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 5th, 2012 @ 1:56pm

    Since people are hung up on this- No, you dont need an "account" for 4chan, but when you submit a new post, you can put a name on it if you want.

    I haven't fact checked this article, but the name on the authors response doesn't mean it didn't happen.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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