It turns out that e-piracy is not always bad for creators. Comic book artist Steve Lieber learned that his graphic novel Underground had been scanned and posted in its entirety to 4chan. But rather than lawyer up, Lieber joined the discussion, talking about the experience of writing it and giving at least tacit approval to the reposting:
As for putting all the pages up here. What can I say? I get that this is how things go, and I’m trying to live in the same decade as everyone else. If nothing else, I’m flattered someone thought enough of the book to take the time to scan and post it.
He also talks about how unsuited he feels his sort of graphic novel is to e-reading:
The problem is this: I hate looking at the kind of comics I do on a screen. I read plenty of funny comics on the web, but adventure stories just don’t work for me online. Heavy brush and ink line art art seems ill-suited for monitors, and the storytelling rhythm is sort of *off*, somehow. I think it’s an inferior experience for the reader. Or at least it is for me, but when I’m creating a comic, I’m have to go by my own tastes.
Then a couple of days later, Steve posted a graph indicating what the piracy had done for the book’s sales:
Lieber has also been participating in a discussion thread about the event on Warren Ellis’s Whitechapel forum.
The evidence seems pretty clear: in terms of sales, getting pirated on 4chan—and Lieber joining rather than trying to beat them—is the best thing that could have happened to the sales of Underground. Piracy is not necessarily always a good thing—but it certainly turned out to be in this case.