Friday, September 25, 2009

Is Illegal Comic Downloading Passe?

Click here to read something awesomeHas illegal comic book downloading grown during the recession?

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

DCP scans in Usenet

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!

- Jim


Sphinx Magoo said...

Wow! Excellent post!

I think the comic companies really have to consider some sort of system to deliver comics digitally for those who want it. Something cheaper than the current system would be great too. Sometimes I think that being able to remember when comics cost less than $1 works against buying comics when they cost $3 or $4. I went to my LCS this week and left without buying anything for myself (even though I picked up Sonic Universe for my kids) because all the books just suddenly seemed too expensive to justify buying.

RKB said...

I actually sent out e-mails about some golden age era characters who's copyright/trademark owners have at least some sort of a on-line presence. Nothing Marvel/DC/EC/ or any of the big names related. My e-mail was pretty straight forward: if you plan on printing these stories from the 30's 40's 50's let me know and I'll buy the collection. If not, why not make them available for download on your various web sites? I said it could increase awareness of the characters involved and serve as a tie-in to the those characters showing up in different media. I'd be happy to blog about it and sang their praises for bringing back those old stories. The silence I got back (and that's all I got back) was deafening.

Jim Shelley said...

@Sphinx, man I'm right there with you! So often I've gone to my LCS and ended up with nothing except a random western comic (for my wife) and some Disney (either from Gladstone or Boom!) comic for my daughter. She actually picked out a Sonic digest one time and loved it, but everytime we've looked for another one, they've been sold out. As for buying comics for myself - well, I just can't justify buying the singles anymore. Buying them in collected editions provides more bang for your buck AND makes it easier to resell on ebay when you are done. :)

Jim Shelley said...

@RKB - who exactly did you contact? I'm not surprised about the response you got by the way. Donald Jackson once told me he tried to contact the owners of all the 70's Atlas properties (Tiger-Man, Planet of the Vampires, Morlock 2001) and got a very similar response. :\

RKB said...

Various people/sites about making available the original Green Hornet comics from Harvey/Holyoke. I would think with the movie/new comic/new novels/ it would be a cool/cheap way to get people interested in the character. Also, Max Allan Collins about the old Johnny Dynamite stories. I know Collins did a new JD comic for DH some years back, but I wanted to read the old series run that appeared in Dynamite.
I mean really why not make that content available on-line to gin-up interest?
I have some Atlas comics, and have always meant to have gotten around to buying more, cause I do enjoy them. Hate to hear that.

Anonymous said...

I tend to download older and out of print things or series that never got proper paperback releases, such as Young Justice, or if its just one issue that catches my eye and I simply can't find it. I also occasionally download things for the artwork for image editing purposes. Legal downloads would be quite nice. I tried Marvel's online viewer but it just felt odd reading. I much prefer reading a downloaded comic on a program like CDisplay. Hovering over text bubbles to enlarge them obscured the artwork, and at times the text was still to small to read. That was the only reason I didn't get a subscription after trying it out. I believe Marvel released some discs that had digital comics on them, not sure if they had the same issue, but it'd be nice if more companies looked into that.

Anonymous said...

I actually just went to look at Marvel's online reader and it seems they fixed the issues I had with it when I first tried it. I might just get a subscription then.

Anonymous said...

Dont forget rapidshare emule DC++

Pallas said...

The analysis here is not useful, as traffic could be movie to places like Megaupload instead of the torrent network.

Anonymous said...

$3 or $4 dollars is very excessive for a comic book. Also most fans I speak to have noticed the insane and artificial story arc stretching over several issues of a story that would take two maybe three issues back in the day.

I get the feeling marvel and Dc dont care like they used to, like the comics are an afterthought and that their real profit related focus are the toys and films now.


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