Could we be coming to the end of an era?
iFanboy has a fascinating interview with a recently retired comics pirate who says that same-day print and digital releases make comics piracy pointless:
As to why I quit, the “Scene” has become petty and incestuous. No one cared about “preserving” comic books in a digital form anymore. It was all about getting YOUR copy out FIRST so that you could flood the fileshares before someone else could get their version out just to acquire digital kudos from those around you. I grew wary of the “Race” and took a hard look at the current digital space. Marvel, DC, Image, Dark Horse, and even Archie have been pushing more and more digital initiatives. If digital archiving was really my goal, and not piracy, then wasn’t I fooling myself by continuing to scan and edit comics that the publishers were offering in a pure digital form? DC’s push for “day and date” releasing of all their mainline titles cemented it for me and I stepped away.
He also comments on the addictive nature of scanning and the group dynamics of the pirates. This sounds like an expensive hobby, as he bought a lot of books to scan them — and sometimes bought hard copies of books he had read online. Underlying all this is the odd notion that making a book digital "preserves" it, although he contradicts that by buying the print editions. Anyway, interesting stuff and well worth reading; I'm looking forward to the rest of these interviews.
Meanwhile, Colleen Doran has put together an interesting roundup of links for freelancers at her website, and among them is one that finishes the story of HTMLcomics.com. As we reported in May 2010, the U.S. attorney for the Middle District of Florida had filed a suit in federal court asking that Gregory Hart forfeit six web domains that hosted scans of copyrighted material (actually, Hart got to keep one because it turned out to be just a blank web page). Earlier this year, Hart agreed to forfeit the web addresses; Copyhype has the details. The domains, including the infamous htmlcomics.com, now belong to the U.S. government, but nobody seems to be doing anything with them at the moment. Doran comments that her take has gone up since the sites were shut down, but that is probably due to other factors. In the end, Hart was not charged with any crimes or sued by any publisher.