Motor City Crackdown

KC’s at the Motor City Comic Con in Detroit this weekend helping a retailer friend. He just called to tell me how the day went, reporting that “all the energy had been sucked out of the room.”

I asked why, and he replied, “Because the MPAA is here with about 50 cops, and 25 booths have been shut down. If people get belligerent, they’re taken out in handcuffs. If they don’t, they’re still taken to the police station, photographed, and fingerprinted.”

I guess that rumored bootleg crackdown is happening. I’m really glad that KC and friend are just selling manga and old comics.

Update: Mark Evanier goes into more detail about the types of pirated material and the rationales of some of those who bootleg it.

15 Responses to “Motor City Crackdown”

  1. James Schee Says:

    Forgive my ignorance please. Yet what does MPAA stand for?

    I always kind of wondered how they got by with all of those bootleg copies at cons. Even family friendly ones like Heroes.

  2. Johanna Says:

    Good question. Motion Picture Association of America, the film studios’ industry trade group.

  3. Alan Coil Says:

    I was there until 6pm this evening. I counted about 6 booths that were under guard, but I also did not walk around the room until most of the police work was done with, so I’m actually not arguing about the number, just syaing what I saw.

    I agree that the room turned very quiet. The remaining dealers on Saturday and Sunday may experience increased business because of the lack of dvds for customers to buy.

    This part I don’t know for certain, but it looked to me that some of the bootleg dealers were being allowed to continue to operate their booths. (Only the dvds were confiscated?)

    Alan Coil

  4. James Schee Says:

    Ah of course! My brain is acting slow, as it just wouldn’t click for me. (I kept thinking Military Police for some reason)

  5. Janer Says:

    Tell KC to go say hi to Paul! I’m there in absentia, but you can’t miss his big bald heed.

  6. » Blog Archive » RAID AT MOTOR CITY! Says:

    […] Jeepers! It’s the cops!”>Johanna Draper Carlson says “It’s a raid!” […]

  7. Johanna Says:

    Alan, I’m glad to get another perspective — I’m sure rumors were flying around, and it’s possible what KC told me had been exaggerated somewhere along the way.

    Jane, I hope he’s having a good show!

  8. Lea Says:

    About time. I gave up years ago telling, and sometimes arguing with, convention organizers about the legality of pirated stuff.

    And, oh my god, the attitude of some of the people pushing it. Belligerent assholes.

  9. Alan Coil Says:

    I live well over an hour away from the con. With so much road re-construction going on, it’s too much trouble to go every day, so I won’t be going back this weekend. But I do wish I were, so that I could ask some questions to see what everybody there thinks about the raid.

  10. Tim O'Shea Says:

    Johanna, please stress to KC the need to first reference himself whenever giving con reports. :) How could he have confused poor James like that, just throwing the MPAA just out there with no context. :) (Hi James, long time no talk, hope you’re well…)

    Seriously though, as a guy who has bought resold promotional CDs at music stores since the mid 1980s, I hesitate to stand clearly on either side, because I’d be throwing a stone while standing in my own glass house. I respect the creators who see things crystal clear and clearly have an important horse in this race (and strong legs to stand on [god what mixed metaphors], but as a consumer I see the convenient grays (note I said convenient, I didn’t say right).

  11. Johanna Says:

    Tim, I’m with you. I own bootleg con-bought copies of the Freakazoid and Beatles cartoons, but I see a practical difference between doing that and buying copies of things that are legitimately available.

    Ultimately, we all have to draw our own lines, and as you point out, what people choose to do isn’t always the same as what’s legal.

  12. James Schee Says:

    hi TIm, long time no type!:) I’m doing good, though things are hectic.

    I can undestaand you and Johanna’s views, and I’m not throwing any stones, I would probably buy bootleg copies of certain items if I had more access. After all many people speed even though it is against the law

  13. Tim O'Shea Says:

    Just to clarify, James, I didn’t mean to imply anyone commenting was throwing stones, just that I knew I couldn’t throw any metaphorical stone myself. :)

  14. Comics Worth Reading Says:

    […] Following up on the rumorsI’d heard, Comics Buyer’s Guide has details on the anti-bootleg bust at the Motor City Comic Con. Around 5 p.m., Michigan State Police, assisted by members of the Novi, Mich., police, raided an estimated 14 different booths in the hall, according to Con Promoter Michael Goldman. Novi officers were seen leading four dealers from the floor in handcuffs, and police said 10 additional dealers were escorted to police headquarters. […]

  15. Lyle Says:

    I hear you about the grey areas. It’s easy (for me) to condemn bootlegs of things that I know will be or currently are legitimately available. I’ve been tempted plenty of times to buy a bootleg of DVDs I know someone is sitting on because they’re not sure if they’ll make enough profit. At that point, it’s easy to think “If they don’t care about me, I don’t care about them, either.”

    (Also, in a few rare cases, bootlegs have brought attention to something great that would have been otherwise forgotten. I would have never gotten to see the amazing pilot for Lookwell if there hadn’t been bootleg copies floating around and eventually getting screened by somebody who could purchase the right to air it on cable.)

    It doesn’t help, either, that some copyright holders have acted like total bad guys, as well. I remember when one of the anti-piracy measures for CDs was to make them unreadable to a CD-ROM drive, which was the only way I listen to legitimately-purchased CDs nowadays (y’know what Alton Brown says about monotaskers…) Or a major music label initially claiming disinterest when their anti-piracy measure made their customers’ machines vulnerable to hackers and only caring when it affected their bottom line.

    Piracy is one of those issues where I mostly see both sides being represented by bad guys and people who try to be ethical get stomped on, one way or another.




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