LiveJournal shuts down Scans Daily community [Update]

Scans Daily, the occasionally raucous but frequently entertaining online community, has been shut down by host LiveJournal for posting copyrighted material without the permission of the copyright holder -- a violation of the terms of use.

That was the purpose of the community, really: A person posted excerpts of comics -- some well known, some obscure, some just downright bizarre -- and other members commented on them. While there's little arguing that the site and its members violated copyright laws, moderators did impose limits on what percentage of a complete work could be posted.

While some publishers and creators objected to their works being featured on Scans Daily, others viewed the community as a rite of passage, or a valuable marketing tool. (Reacting this morning on Twitter to news of the shutdown, cartoonist Faith Erin Hicks wrote, "That sucks! I was thrilled when someone posted pages from Zombies Calling to scans_daily. Grassroots internet = sales. C'mon!")

Although a Scans Daily moderator posted last night that "we don't want this to turn into a witch hunt," speculation already has begun as to who filed the complaint with LiveJournal.

Johanna Draper Carlson notes that, "It’s a shame that IP owners fear the free sample so much, because in some cases, at least, it does work to convert customers."

That, I hope, will be the discussion that develops out of this shutdown. Certainly, it should be up to the copyright holder, and not someone anonymously posting on a website, to determine when, where and if free samples should be doled out.

But maybe more publishers and creators will pause to consider whether a fan wanting to post a few pages -- "few" being the operative word -- from one of their comics couldn't, in the long run, be a good thing. Heck, there might even be room for some publishers to work with a popular community like Scans Daily.

Update: X-Factor writer Peter David, whom some online have accused of having the plug pulled on Scans Daily, responds:

Conscientious people have reported to me when they see flagrant copyright violations of my work (typically entire Star Trek novels being posted online). So I did the same thing, informing Marvel of the scans.

Did Marvel then shut them down? No. Because before Marvel legal had an opportunity to do anything, the scans had already been removed for being a violation of terms of service of Photobucket, the site that enabled the posters to put up pictures on line. Perhaps the CBR links put the site on PB's radar as well as mine.

There's more commentary on David's blog.

Update 2: On her Comic Book Resources forum, writer Gail Simone comments on the suspension of Scans Daily, and proposes a compromise:

I sympathize with any creators who felt their work was spoiled. I JUST this week had the ending of my latest issue of Wonder Woman spoiled. But I don't believe there was any malice. Quite the opposite, I believe that the poster intended only positive things and meant only to spread the word. I find that to be the motive there again and again. "Hey, I liked this book...take a look at this cool stuff in it!"

Do we really want to try to stop that instinct?

I propose a potential solution. I think, if S-D rebuilds, and I hope they do, I suggest that they make it part of the rules that if a creator or publisher objects to a particular post as being too spoiler-y, that the poster be given the choice to either modify or delete the offending posts. I would be very surprised if more than a tiny handful of creators took advantage of such a resource, but it would certainly show goodwill and I'm sure many skeptical creators would appreciate it. They might be brought more into the process. It's not Draconian, it's merely good faith cooperation. A creator might ask for a page to be removed. Surely that's better than having the site nuked over a single post?

I have spoken with some S-D mods and the thing that I felt is undeniable is that they DO respect the creators and sincerely believe that what they are doing isn't hurtful. That they self-imposed their own ethical guidelines and rigorously enforce them speaks volumes.

These people are not the enemy. They're the good guys, and the alternative is SO much worse. You think what S-D is bad?

Watch and see what pops up in its place.

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