Friday, November 23, 2007

Marvel and DC send Zcult FM a Cease and Desist Order

Well, here we have the second shoe dropping. This week Marvel and DC teamed up, but not to present a classic adventure with Spider-Man or Superman. Instead they got together and sent ZCult-FM a cease and desist letter. (For those of you just joining us, Zcult-FM is the longest lived and most famous torrent site for comics on the net)

It is reported that per the letter, Zcult has 3 days to remove all DC/Marvel content from their site before DC/Marvel takes any further action. (I'm told that Zcult is going to abide by the letter and only provide non DC/Marvel comic related torrents in the future.)

For more commentary on the matter check these links:

From Forevergeek...

...Obsessive comicbook fans who absolutely must read every single issue that comes out from their beloved titles, or completists that want to read every single issue that is included in massive yearly crossover events can either do two things — spend a majority of their income buying comicbooks or download digitally scanned copies of the comics. For a growing number of collectors, digital comics has been a salve to soothe acute wallet burnout. They can now scan favorite titles or look for issues that they have missed. This makes them buy comics with a bit of foreknowledge, allowing them to just get issues that they really love and skip those that do not pass their personal scrutiny...

From Shotgun Reviews...

This shut down of ZCult is a big blow to readers of downloaded comics, but it is far from the only site on the internet that hosts them. People will be able to find other places if this one is in fact shut down. What’s different about ZCult from most is the online community that has formed there. Some of the most active, and intelligently debated, forums on the comic ‘net can be found in their message board section. Add to that reviews, a podcast, and weekly previews, and you have a full on comic site being run by no one actively involved in the industry, except as fans. According to Serj, Marvel’s demands included the complete shut-down of the site, including these community features. This seems odd, and really, a little vindictive to many involved with the site.

From TorrentFreak...

Another high note, Z-Cult FM’s admin just announced some really good news. Seems that there are benefits to having your material available on BitTorrent after all. Serj explains:

A comic publisher we talked to while ago who wanted their books banned from our site for their own reasons have just PMed/Emailed me to revoke the ban and are happy for us to share their files here.

From ComicsCommentary.blogspot

The scanning and pirating of comics will continue in the near future (there are still many other sites in which these comics are available for free), but Marvel and DC taking joint action against the best-known sites surely will have some effect. My guess is that new sites will pop up to fill the void left by Z-Cult FM and the also recently-shut down Demonoid, but that some of these new sites may end up having more restricted memberships (an "only by invitation" system).

My Thoughts on the Cease and Desist:

1) It was only a matter of time. I'm surprised it took so long. (Then again, DC *did* just launch their first internet initiative, which is basically a Web Comics site.)

2) It's plain to see that Marvel has gotten DC to reverse their don't ask don't tell policy on comic downloads, as 2 years ago at HeroesCon, Dan Didio himself said DC thought that comic downloads HELPED comics. (His reasoning? Because people couldn't afford to follow every title in a huge company crossover...)

3)How many times has Pirate Bay been sent cease and desist orders? And as of yesterday, they seem to be operating just fine. So, this is really sort of Marvel/DC's way of treating the symptom and ignoring the desease.

4) The mystery publisher who is going to be allowing Zcult to torrent their titles? Don't be surprised if it turns out to be Slave Labor Graphic's Dan Vado. Dan has proven time and time again that he is a true *Out of the Box* thinker, so I don't doubt that he recognizes the value of Zcult's Viral influence on comics readers.

Stay tuned for more as this story develops...

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