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The rise of piracy in webcomics

Emma_Clare at 12:00AM, Dec. 6, 2019

Generally speaking, most webcomic artists publish their work for free. If they’re lucky they are supported on Patreon or manage to make a living on the side but, for the most part, it is a labour of love. So what can one do when they discover that their work is being pirated?

In an article published on the BBC, it talks about the personal cost of piracy, even if the comic is free. Creator Andy Kluthe commented that he used to run a webcomic, however, when the webcomic was reposted on Reddit, he did not see much of a return on the “exposure” even though it was already free to read. Unfortunately he has since had to discontinue the series.

With print comics on the decline and digital sales increasing in the past few years it can be inferred that readers are turning to the Internet as their main sources of comic consumption. Coupled with the explosion of the mobile friendly vertical scrolling comics on platforms such as Webtoons and Tapas where creators are able to access potential streams of revenue, the concept of mass consumption may, in turn, feed to desire to access that content illegally.

The article posits that for newer creators, the rise of online piracy can lead to a difficult stumbling block for them to overcome which, in turn, could drive otherwise talented creators away from the medium.

What did you think of the article? Has piracy affected your work personally? Let us know in the comment section below! And join us on Sunday evening for our Quackchat at 5:30PM(EST)!

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smkinoshita at 12:15PM, Dec. 9, 2019

Counter-point: A creator I know (but who's a very private person) had her comic's panels used as reaction images as well as being reposted. The key difference is that she rolled with it and when she finally posted it to Patreon she had a mess of followers in little time. Monty Python responded to clips of their sketches being uploaded to YouTube by posting high quality originals to YouTube, and to paraphrase: "Look, if you're going to do this, do it right" and as a result they've sold a lot of DVDs. Another comic artist responded to his comic being posted to 4chan by popping in to say hi and talk about his work. It was an older piece but wound up selling a bunch of comics as a result. You can't just expect to get exposure from piracy alone. Once you find out your work is being distributed, that's a sign for you that there's an audience for your work you've never met. There's a difference between piracy and plagiarism.

bravo1102 at 3:18AM, Dec. 8, 2019

The Ferengi in me asks "where is the profit in stealing something you can get for nothing?" Unless, you plan on somehow monetizing something already widely available for free because you're playing on the gullibility of the market?

HyperFabMag at 9:05AM, Dec. 7, 2019

I've had old comics from my previous account reposted on forums and one individual completely ripped of the concept and made his own version (mine was better though :P) lol

IronHorseComics at 5:17PM, Dec. 6, 2019

I hadn't been affected far as I know...but it's insanely stupid that free stuff is getting pirated now.

mks_monsters at 4:58PM, Dec. 6, 2019

People can be so very cruel. It is sad that people can have it in them to do such things. However, like ShaRose49 said, even if my work was pirated or anything, it wouldn't break me. I would still continue to work. The best revenge is to never be broken.

ShaRose49 at 11:50AM, Dec. 6, 2019

Piracy has never affected me, for which I am very thankful. However even if someone pirated my work, I would keep doing it anyway. I don’t just do it for attention, I do it because I love to do it.

bravo1102 at 7:04AM, Dec. 6, 2019

I've only had ideas and plot points act as inspiration for others. It is galling to see them lauded for an original idea they tell me I inspired, but it's neither here nor there.

Ozoneocean at 5:37AM, Dec. 6, 2019

Years and years ago, (maybe 15 or 20?), the comics "sexy losers" was so badly hit by privacy the creator quit. It contributed to his major depressive episodes. His comics were widely reposed and even printed! Even his jokes were recycled.

Tantz_Aerine at 2:28AM, Dec. 6, 2019

I'm actually rather surprised that even free things are pirated nowadays.

Andreas_Helixfinger at 1:10AM, Dec. 6, 2019

This is indeed an issue worthy of bringing up. And with the rising trend of content streaming services becoming more and more spread out to different service platforms, each one putting their content behind a monthly or annual paywall, I predict that piracy is gonna become even more common in the future, spilling over to other smaller content outputs, webcomics included, potentially driving away a whole new generation of talented creators. And there really isn't much we can do about it. By putting your creations up on the internet for fee or free, which by the looks of things is on the verge of becoming the only outlet for any type of media, you are always gonna be under the risk of getting your content illegally reproduced (writers on Wattpad can tell you all about it). I think it's something we're just gonna have to deal with, I'm afraid. If I'm wrong, please tell me.

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