Mark Waid has really put his money where his mouth is: After preaching the gospel of the “culture of sharing” for a couple of years now, he’s making his comic Insufferable available for anyone to download and share.
Although the comic is available for free from his Thrillbent website, he found that within 24 hours the first chapter had been copied and uploaded to torrent and file-sharing sites. “The only thing that startled me was that it took 24 hours,” he said, and sure enough, the next two chapters were uploaded even faster. And he’s happy about it:
Your mileage may vary but, me, I’m okay with torrenters and “pirates” sharing INSUFFERABLE. Not just because, what the hell, it’s free anyway, Mr. Cynic. .. my hand to God, even if we were charging for it, I’d still be happy because the exposure and promotion is worth more to me at this point than dollars and cents. But more than that…more than that … after having been hip-deep in the research for the past three years, I have seen zero conclusive evidence that, on the whole, “piracy” removes more money from the system than it adds to it.
Furthermore, he points out, pirates gonna pirate and he has no way to stop them. So rather than obsessing about that, he’s turned it to his advantage by posting each chapter as downloadable PDF and .cbz files — with a pointer toward Thrillbent on the last page. There’s no reason why the uploaders couldn’t remove that page, but they haven’t. What’s more, he’s finding that most of the uploaded files of Insufferable are indeed the ones he supplied, which means the “pirates” are really providing him with free advertising.
It’s an interesting point. Torrent sites have a different audience from webcomics sites, and some research has shown that people actually use them to browse and find new comics, movies, etc., so it is indeed possible that the torrenters are bringing Insufferable to a new audience, and thus extending Waid’s reach in a way that could translate into dollars and cents if and when he starts selling ads on Thrillbent.