by Timothy Lee
Tue, Dec 4th 2007 2:39pm
Last month I urged the comic book industry to accelerate its move into the digital world by releasing a lot more out-of-print comics online. I pointed out that this could generate some advertising revenue in the short run, but even more importantly it could increase public interest in old comics which would increase the demand for a wide variety of Marvel and DC products. Unfortunately, TorrentFreak is reporting that Marvel and DC are following in the footsteps of the recording industry, threatening people who are sharing their comics online without making any real effort to provide a viable alternative. TorrentFreak quotes an exchange between a Marvel employee and the people who run ComicSearch. ComicSearch makes some of the same points I did: there are a lot of fans who will buy a paper copy of a comic and download an electronic version so they can keep the paper copy in mint condition. They also point out that peer-to-peer sites have more and higher-quality scans than the official websites, and only peer-to-peer sites give you the option of downloading and organizing files on your hard drive. At a minimum, Marvel and DC should ensure that those fans who want to download high-quality scans of their comics have the option of paying to do so legally. ComicSearch also points out that comic sharing can have huge promotional value, creating increased fan interest and allowing Marvel and DC to sell more comic books, movie spin-offs, and merchandise. While Marvel and DC are certainly within their legal rights to try to stamp out unauthorized sharing of their comics, that doesn't mean that doing so is a good business strategy.
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