This morning, I was digging the Twitter when I came across a Tweet from pal Michael Moreci (yes, friends, I actually do have friends in the offline world). Michael, author of the graphic novel Quarantined, used the popular microblogging service to ask the following philosophical question:
Normally, I might just go back to bed at this point, but pondering this - and similar comments by fellow Zone 4 contributor/comics writer Mike Luoma, I wonder....why are people torrenting indie comics? And isn't that missing the point?
This isn't about copyright or creativity issues - I've read The Pirate's Dilemma too many times to not take some of it to heart....I understand that making things easily accessible to others is a good thing. But by their nature, indie comics are done not out of a need for profit (necessarily), but out of creativity and/or love of the medium. Some stories need to be told, and more importantly....need to be read. Although several companies have a stranglehold on the medium, they don't necessarily suffer through illegal downloads.
(And let's avoid the whole torrenting-should-be-illegal argument; for our purposes, we're agreeing that it's wrong in any form, but that it happens)
Indie companies, at best, are operating at a bare minimum, with small distribution, a minute amount of orders, and relying on word-of-mouth (and thankfully, social media) to drive sales. Marvel, DC, and the larger indies could probably take a sizeable hit due to illegal downloads....but to take away a smaller company's financial profits simply due to wanting a story read? Creators and artists deserve better.
Example - Mike was kind enough to send me PDF review copies of books for blog review. It would be easy for me to e-mail pals and say, "Here's two PDFs of books you should read." Yet, if I did so, I'm taking money out of Mike's pocket. (Plus, I told him I wouldn't do that anyway). Things are tough economically, and we have decisions to make...but when we start punishing those with a unique vision by impacting their livelihood, that's fundamentally wrong.
But I could be wrong - what do you think, dear reader? Am I being hypocritical? Is there a difference? Please feel free to leave an answer in the comments, or bug me via social media. I think there's a great discussion to be had. Honest.