Webcomics scraping + piracy

I just read this story about how a Chinese company scraped an entire website (a web comic), bound it into a book, and sold it in the US. Kinda insane.

But it got me thinking again about self-publishing– now there’s Amazon’s BookSurge and the much much prettier Blurb. You can publish entire picture books!

I last investigated this in June 2004, so it’s no surprise the services available are much better now.

Anyway, I have an annoying question: suppose the guy at Immonen is able to stop the sale of the book? Will he be able to stop them all? It seems like the only way to benefit from this and prevent a recurrence is to publish your own content as soon as it is completed. That way consumers will have something to buy that is not pirated and therefore gets money back to the creator.

So, webcomics guys: the only way to fight this is to band together and publish your stuff. If you don’t have enough to bind together into a book, take a page from the indie record industry and go in on it with another webcomic. The added benefit (besides the cost benefit) is that you get the other guy’s audience as well. More readers, more following = more money! Yay!

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