DC responds to piracy — 2½ years later
There’s been a lot of talk about how DC and Marvel started going after scanners and torrent sites this Thanksgiving weekend, and now Z-Cult has agreed to take down all Marvel comics and wait a month before posting any DC books.
To which my response is: what took you so long?
I have particular reason to say so: I met with DC’s vice president of legal affairs, Lillian Laserson, and her assistants, Paula Lowitt and Jay Kogen, about the issue of scans available online back in April 2005– over two and a half years ago.
At the two hour meeting which covered legal issues, business cases, media ecology, and public relations, I delivered a spreadsheet to them that was current as of April 1, 2005, showing them how many DC comics had been scanned in and were available online. This wasn’t a spread sheet I created, mind you, it was created by the scanning community showing their progress. And they had made some serious progress: I pointed out that of all the comics published by DC in their (at the time) 70 year history, over 75% of them had already been scanned in and were available online. The numbers were closer to 90% post-Crisis. In short, the genie was already pretty much out of the bottle.
I laid out a full online strategy for them, suggesting that the best thing for them to do would be to get in front and pretend they were leading the parade. Partner with their corporate parent, AOL, and make their content available either freely online or behind AOL’s wall, so that they could expand the brand and readership for their products, and get their comics in front of a much wider audience.
They thanked me for my time, but suggested that a certain higher-up at DC would never go for it– even though there would have been more than enough support from the online advertising market and from their corporate parents, and even though it would have been an obvious source of revenue that would have benefitted DC’s bottom line and supported all sorts of new comic initiatives.
Now, of course, AOL has switched over to a much more advertising supported model, and are making more money than ever. And DC? They’ve given the scanning community a good 31 months to work unmolested to get even more of DC’s comics scanned in and online.
So what did DC get from 31 months of inactivity? Beats me. But to quote Blazing Saddles, I’m sure somebody was trying to protect their phony-baloney job.
Related: see this piece in New York magazine’s weblog and this followup in the Huffington Post about Universal Music Group and how well they handled their executives handled the Internet. See, DC even had examples of what not to do.