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Something else being pirated: Comic books

Canon 9950F scanner
Canon 9950F scanner
Terry Chay/Flickr (Creative Commons-licensed)

Showing that, if there's a thing that it's possible to pirate, people will do so, a piracy community has even sprung up around pirating comic books. Every Wednesday, when new comics are released, pirates will hurriedly scan all the new books and put them out on the Internet.

It's an interesting group as comic companies begin putting out their comic books for sale online officially; DC Comics made news recently by going "day-and-date digital" for the first time in September, releasing all their new comic for sale online the same day they're available in stores. They're still charging the same price as those paper copies, so there are still going to be plenty who refuse to pay those prices for their comic book fix. (Of course, there are some who, no matter how cheap the official source is, will never pay.)

Writer Jim Mroczkowski from comic book news site iFanboy put out a call for pirates to come talk to him so he could find out more about why they do what they do, writing, "I want to know everything about them." He's since published a three-part series of interviews with various comic book pirates.

Like other forms of piracy, communities form around scanning comics. "If I understand correctly, scanners form scanner gangs. The mind reels," Mroczkowski writes.

One of the pirate scanners interviewed said that he viewed himself as preserving the material digitally originally, but DC's push for "day and date" releases led to his retirement. "If digital archiving was really my goal, and not piracy, then wasn’t I fooling myself by continuing to scan and edit comics that the publishers were offering in a pure digital form?" That scanner said that, publishing between 2004 and 2011, he scanned over 6,000 comic books.

He initially started small, with just a few books a week, "but it becomes like a drug with a sense of satisfaction with the finished project."

Mroczkowski summed up the commonalities he found in the overwhelming feedback he received to the series, noting the pride most took in their work, their sense of community and the compulsiveness involved.

You can read more about the inner workings of comic book piracy from the horses' mouths over at iFanboy:

The Comic Book Pirate Interviews, Part I
The Comic Book Pirate Interviews, Part II
The Comic Book Pirate Interviews, Part III