underground 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.

(Found via TechDirt and The Lazarus Corporation.)


    • To be fair, I’m pretty sure that what he means is it wasn’t the piracy by itself that caused the sale boost, but the fact that the pirate site was highly-trafficked. Which I can sort of see. But on the other hand, it wouldn’t have shown up on the highly-trafficked site if it hadn’t been pirated.

  1. Of course it was Piracy.

    But Piracy is not the point, it’s a red herring.

    The copyright lobby equates personal use sharing with commercial bootlegging and calls both piracy. Because of this, many people — especially older people — are not even aware that they are committing piracy when they share their own legally purchased media.

    If the copyright lobby has its way people will have to purchase licenses for every person who watches the movie or listens to the song we’ve bought. I’ll need to buy a license for the children’s book I buy — not just for me — but a separate license for the child I read it to. A separate license for EVERY child I read it to.

    Well of course they want that. Corporations only care about the bottom line.

    Which is why they aren’t bothered that this type of corporate bullying produces laws oppressing people and stripping us of freedom and liberty.

    The media corporations are perfectly aware p2p sharing actually contributes to their sales. But as more independent creators make movies like “Die Beauty” and “Sita Sings the Blues”, and 30% of the Canadian Music Recording Industry is operating independent of the mainstream, the writing is on the wall.

    That’s why they are trying to retain market control by promoting the myth that piracy hurts creators.

  2. The reality is the product wouldnt be interesting if someone else didnt reccomend it for piracy.
    Piracy provoke, marketing online is not that much functional unless you got good stuff to share. Sure you can go for the idiots who acctually belive “titanic remake” will be the best movie ever.
    I wouldnt support it unless i knew it was good.
    Just as i dont buy albums unless i know their awesome, i dont go to conserts to see twisted sisters since i know their old and not as good anymore.

    It is an serious fact, Twisted still earns money because piracy reminds us of how good they were.
    Even with millions $ of marketing at a huge page, you wont get the impact as when an artist says, here I made this, do you like it, you can buy or donate.

    We are in a world of choises..
    It’s only the big mediaindustry who will keep whine about piracy since artist acctually dont need their type of promotion. Most of the “new artists” accept the “fame factory” “idol” and other crap shows.. Their found on the internet, trough piracy. They get known for handing their music out so people can listen first and then make an opinion.

    I belive if all the artists had an optional Donate button where you can donate to your own lever of “likeness” of an specific album. Those who made good, will earn twise as much as just “selling” their albums.

    Sure i might be the only one who is picky and dont buy britney albums, but still there would be tons of those who would pay for her crap.

    I would donate 100$ easy to Trivium tho, because i personally think their awesome. But for now, they as many others dont have an donate button. And i dont want to support Itunes.. because i think their products suck.. bigtime!

  3. Myth that piracy hurts?

    In 2008 the European Union’s losses of more than 185,000 jobs due to piracy.

    Anyone who says its a myth, I suggest you tell those unemployed people. I dare you.

    I’ve love it if you got dumped too, because someone pirated your work, then you’d know how it really feels.

    PS. Those numbers where from the EU unemployment offices !

  4. This claim is based on a report called:
    “Building a Digital Economy: The Importance of Saving Jobs in the EU’s Creative Industries”

    This is a 2010 study by the Business Action to Stop Counterfeiting and Piracy – BASCAP – launched by the International Chamber of Commerce.

    It is basically a campaign by big industry to create a monumentally overblown amount of fear in Government about the impact of piracy on industry.

    It uses figures based on estimates influenced by those industries and their corporate goals rather than any facts. Most of their figures have been discredited across the world. But they hammer it home to governments in the EU and USA in the same way the music industry hammered it home years ago trying to get a tax on tapes.

    Anyone who believes this BS should take a course in connecting with reality.

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