Recently I got a spam comment on this blog from someone who has made a blog of nothing but links to illegal comic book download sites. :\
At first I was a little surprised to see blogger allowing such a site in their domain, then I realized if the blog was simply linking to other sites, it may not be doing anything wrong.
Heck, I've seen quite a few other blogs that post entire issues of DC or Marvel comics in the name of criticism or fair use.
To be honest, I think posting an entire issue of Blackest Night 3, with nothing more than This comic rocks isn't what the academic commentary portion of fair use was intended for. However, when you are posting a complete issue of a comic that is no longer in print and mostly likely never will be again?...well then I am willing to turn a blind eye.
However, back to the spam comment - checking out the site with its multitude of illegal comic download links made me wonder had illegal comic book downloading grown during this recession.
Here is what I was able to determine by checking out the known haunts of comic book downloaders.
1. The DCP Scanners are still pretty much running, business as usual
2. Comic book downloading from torrent sites may be going down
Remember Z-Cult FM, the infamous comic book torrent site that pretty much popularized comic book downloading? Well, before they were practically shut down by the combined legal might of DC and Marvel, that site had 74,000 registered users. There were several cases where a torrent of comics was so popular, that it had over 15K downloads.
So, one would suspect that once Z-cult was shut down, we would see the illegal downloaders moving to other torrent sites, but that doesn't seem to be the case. Check this out.
Here is a screenshot from a popular torrent aggregate site. The numbers on the far left represent the number of seeds and completed downloads of the latest batch of DCP scans. No more than 1000 downloads registered at a site that aggregates the seeds? Seems pretty low considering Z-cult's DCP torrents often reached much higher (from 7k to 14k at its peak I think.)
Here is screen shot from one of the oldest torrent site on the net.
Again, the SE numbers are seeders and the LE numbers are Leachers.
Finally, here is screenshot from the newest members only comic download site.
The 886 represents the number of DCP torrent downloads.
Okay, so far, this doesn't look so bad. What have we got? About 3000 total downloaders?
3. But...there are a lot more torrent sites now than 2 years ago...
However, these numbers don't tell the whole story. As I started drilling down on the various sites in the Torrent Aggregate site, I was surprised to discover that site does not accurately report the number of seeders and leechers from the sites it aggregates. Many of them had a lot more seeders/leechers than the aggregate site was reporting. I found one of the child sites that as of 10 pm last night had over 1000 current leechers on a DCP torrent from last week!
The most current weeks comic scans had 500 leechers at the time. If one takes the time it takes to download such a torrent and divides the span of days by that number, well, then one would be better at math than me, so feel free to help me out here. :)
But seriously, my best guestimate is that if it takes 1 day (at most) to download a 1 gig DCP torrent, then in one week at 500 - 1000 leechers every day, you end up with 7000 downloads in the first week. And that's just from one torrent site.
So, my final assessment: The downloading hasn't stopped, it's just gotten much harder to track.
I got an email from someone telling me Demonoid was down. I don't know why the powers that be even bother. For every Demonoid, Z-Cult, Supernova they shut down, 100 rise up in their place.
That's just not the answer.
There needs to be a legal system for downloading comics.
I sure hope Longbox is it! :)
Have a great weekend!