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The end of torrenting as YOU know it?

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Posted by: Matt McGloin, Editor/Publisher
created 11/27/2010 - 10:01pm, updated 11/27/2010 - 10:05pm

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Torrent sites under attack. You see it mentioned by the comic creators on twitter - that the number of times their recently canceled comic was illegally downloaded may have saved the book from the dreaded "threshold" level i.e. cancellation. Torrenting, in terms of the comic book world, is illegally downloading an entire issue using peer to peer software. It's quite unreal as new issues are made available as soon as they come out. These guys must run home, scan the issue and put it up. You always hear the arguments in various forums about readers not being able to afford this or that - or the publishers are ripping us all off - as fans try to make an excuse for stealing. It's not going to matter one way or another what I say here, but my two favorite titles, Nova and Guardians of the Galaxy, may have survived to live another day if even half the number of times those issues were illegally downloaded equated to actual sales. What about the critically acclaimed Thor: The Mighty Avenger all ages book? Or how about Jeff Parker's Agents of Atlas which just couldn't get a foothold? Now we all have tons of "mainstream" titles to look forward to that will be dragged down by editorial mandates whereas the less popular characters seemed to get a bit more breathing room - giving fans a new and fresh perspective on their favorite universes. I could go on... Two separate news stories surfaced recently that may spell the end for torrenting - at least we can hope. Truth of it is - more buyers more books. Plain and simple. The creators behind the insanely popular torrent site Pirate Bay were convicted in a Swedish court for violating copyright laws. Their recent appeal of a lower court's guilty sentence was upheld with the new ruling decreasing their jail time and increasing their fine; which is now less than a year in jail and a fine of around 6.5 million dollars. In my opinion that is a very lenient sentence plus Pirate Bay is still up and running. Cnet.com has the full story. Stateside, Homeland Security seized over 70 file sharing and bit-torrenting domains. The owners were neither notified nor warned beforehand. The owner of Torrent-finder.com actually said his hosting company, GoDaddy, didn't even know. What the Feds did was seize the domain through ICANN,  which is incorporated in the State of California. ICANN basically coordinates the name of the domain to it's number - so you can type in sitename.com rather than 010101010.1010.0101. Alarming is the fact that Homeland Security acted simply because complaints were filed against the sites leading some to argue whether due process rights were violated. Another fact, Homeland Security bypassed current digital laws such as the Digital Millenium Coptyright Act (DMCA - pdf) or the recently introduced (not a law yet) Combating Online Infringements and Counterfeits Act, or COICA, which was created specifically to target this sort of problem. Full article at Mashable.com. Perhaps with the recent shut down and enforcements against file sharing, much like when the peer to peer "free" music sharing software from Napster was targeted, we'll see an upsurgeance of legit digital comic sites. This appears to be so with Marvel, DC, Image and many others having either digital platforms of their own, one of the commercially available programs like Comixology or Graphicly - or both. Still, there are free music sharing sites out there; most likely this problem won't go away. Hopefully, it just gets smaller and harder to use leading people to not even bother when an "iTunes" of comics is available at very affordable prices. A win-win for everyone.
 

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