News broke Friday night that Scans_Daily, a popular online comics community whose function was to share and discuss excerpts of comic books, be they new releases, arcane back-issues, or any other sort of noteworthy comic book, was suspended by host LiveJournal. Inherent in the nature of Scans_Daily was the necessary act of scanning and publishing copyrighted comic book material, which community members did without permission of the copyright holder, thus constituting a LiveJournal Terms of Service violation.
CBR's new blog ROBOT 6 was on the story this morning:
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!")
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."
Comics Should Be Good reports that "X-Factor" writer Peter David had reported Scans_Daily to Marvel Comics in response to the site's unauthorized use of some of his work, but that S_D removed the material before action could be taken. In response to some claims that his actions led to the suspension of the beloved site, David wrote on his blog:
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.
David provides additional commentary on his blog.
On her forum here at CBR, "Wonder Woman" writer Gail Simone took a more favorable view of Scans_Daily, writing:
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.