Z-Cult FM Returns, Relists SLG

Update: For the latest on this situation, please read this post.

Z-Cult FM (link no longer available) has announced that they will not be closing in response to legal threats from DC and Marvel. They are reopening their trackers, based on several reasons: they’re not in the US, Marvel wasn’t available over the Thanksgiving holiday for discussion, and member demand. Also a factor is the following:

Here at Z-Cult FM we have always had a clearly explained and signposted policy of making it clear to all comic publishers and copyright holders that we will on request (and reasonable proof of ownership) remove their material from our trackers if they requested us to.

So why didn’t DC and Marvel follow the policy? Probably because that puts the effort on the publishers to list the exact comics posted instead of relying on a blanket demand. I can easily imagine DC and Marvel thinking that that was too much trouble to go to in dealing with someone they think of as beneath their attention. They’d have to respect torrenters enough to talk with them, and I don’t see that happening.

Z-Cult FM goes on to praise SLG Publishing (which I still think of as Slave Labor). SLG requested removal of their comics when they launched their EyeMelt online comic store. Now, though,

SLG Publishing has now given us permission to lift the ban on their comics and are happy for us to torrent any comics of theirs. In exchange for SLG Publishing working with us instead of against us we will be providing banner links to their site for free so please be sure to check out their site and support their actions.

Apparently, free publicity and samples works. (The Disney licensed titles are an exception, though, since they’re still banned.) What an interesting choice! SLG is really leading the industry in terms of online experiments. I would love to know more about their reasoning for this decision. Several Z-Cult respondents immediately follow up that they hadn’t tried SLG comics before, but that this would make them do so. Here’s an example:

I too hadn’t hear of SLG before, but will start supporting them in order to show the Big Two how they should have handled the situation. My hat’s off to them for leading this (hopeful) change in how the comic industry does business.

Update: The SLG message was a hoax.


16 Responses to “Z-Cult FM Returns, Relists SLG”

  1. James Schee Says:

    That’s an interesting plan by SLG, and one that makes a lot of sense really. Given that the reality for even the publishers with a track record like theirs is that salse for CO work aren’t the final bottom line.

    The most important factor for them at lest should be how many people are reading their work. With the ever dwindling shelf space as other companies make more and more series and prices increase. It becomes harder and harder to get readers in todays market.

    This could be a really great way to accomplish that, and if a good percentage like what they see. Well maybe they actually order/pickup the next series when it hits.

  2. Blog@Newsarama » Marvel & DC team up against BitTorrent site Says:

    [...] Hat tip. Posted by JK Parkin in News & Views, Marvel, DC Comics, Internet, Legal, SLG [ Permalink ] [ ] [...]

  3. Ray Cornwall Says:

    Great decision by both SLG and Z-Cult.

    You know, if Marvel sold comics like SLG sells comics (Eyemelt.com, .79 to .99 cents per issue), I’d buy a ton of digital comics from them. I’ve bought from Eyemelt before, and it’s exactly what I want from a digital comics experience.

  4. Nat Gertler Says:

    “So why didn’t DC and Marvel follow the policy? ”

    Why should anyone be expected to jump through every hoop that someone who wants to rip them off erects? Should they be expected to do so for every new site that chooses to rip them off?
    It’s not as though the pirates don’t have access to the comics with the copyright notice – the “policy” of the folks who they’re ripping off. But they don’t care.

  5. Johanna Says:

    Nat, it’s the difference between getting what you say you want and being “right” and achieving absolutely nothing. If DC and Marvel hadn’t started with the big guns (right before a holiday, too), they wouldn’t have previously loyal readers vowing boycotts and spending money with a competitor. You’re right, they didn’t HAVE to do that… but because they didn’t, they’re now worse off. I’m sure they’re comforted that they’re still right and the law is on their side, but that doesn’t do them any good in terms of international law. (Rather like the US government, they acted: “do whatever we say because the world revolves around us” ignoring that plenty of people are capable of getting along without them, and may even be better off.)

  6. Nat Gertler Says:

    No, Johanna, the pirates give the publishers no option to get what they want and what their entitled to. Jumping through their hoops is not going to stop them from pirating. Relying on the honor of the severely ethically impaired is not going to achieve anything. If Marvel and DC kept jumping through every hoop to get every new publication taken off of this one list

    So, some people who declare themselves “local readers” (and who consider piracy to be a form of loyalty, I suppose) claim that they will boycott. Don’t know if you’ve noticed, but the big two can hardly tap their toes without someone online declaring a boycott… and you can expect to see the same guy two months later talking about how many shops he had to go to find the latest issue.

    International law is not utterly toothless in all areas on copyright, and the more that is done via the law to stop these shmucks, the more likely folks will think twice about joining in. It would be nice if this could be done more through the central sites than the individual bittorrenters.

  7. Ray Cornwall Says:

    Nat:
    1. Having seen the list, Marvel and DC didn’t have to list every publication for Z-Cult’s policy. All they had to say was, “Don’t share our books, please.” Instead, they said, “By US Law, you must shut down your site completely”, neglecting the fact that Z-Cult isn’t in the US.

    2. Marvel and DC are certainly within their legal right to protect their copyright. But trying to shut down every outlet for p2p sharing hasn’t worked at all for the RIAA and the MPAA, who have deeper pockets for this sort of thing than any comics publisher. If anything, it’s damaged their business.

    Do you know who’s the next-biggest supplier of new comics torrents, at least according to torrent search engine IsoHunt? The Pirate Bay. Ever see what they do to legal requests from copyright holders? They laugh at you.

    I believe it’s better for Marvel and DC’s business to work with Z-Cult rather than combat it. Every music company wishes they had crafted a deal with Napster 1.0 rather than shut it down. I’m betting at some point Marvel will wish it had done the same.

  8. Tim O'Shea Says:

    Don’t really have a firm opinion on the evolving ethics and business conflicts involved in this (it is more complicated than my brain can process)–but I must thank Nat for writing a great line like: “but the big two can hardly tap their toes without someone online declaring a boycott”

  9. Breaking News: Z-Cult SLG Message a Hoax! » Comics Worth Reading Says:

    [...] have just had it confirmed by Dan Vado, SLG Publishing head honcho, that the reported permission message allowing Z-Cult FM to torrent their comics is a hoax. He’s posted his response at Z-Cult as [...]

  10. Tim O'Shea Says:

    In a situation like this, why keep the post up, but with an update? Why not delete the text and merely leave the statement that the previous news item was a hoax. Or maybe you could keep the text, but issue it as crossed-out text? I’ve meant to ask this before, and your comics journalism post reminded me of this question.

  11. Johanna Says:

    Because I don’t believe in rewriting history, Tim. For a while, Z-Cult had removed some of the messages I’d linked to, and it just makes it hard for someone not on the net this weekend to understand what happened.

  12. Tim O'Shea Says:

    Thanks for the explanation. And by the way, I always appreciate the fact that you do post on the weekends, in addition to your work during the week. It may kill into your free time, but know that folks appreciate it.

  13. Johanna Says:

    Glad to hear it — I’ve been wondering about that topic lately. Readership goes down on the weekend, but is that a self-fulfilling prophecy as people don’t post then because there are fewer readers?

  14. Tim O'Shea Says:

    Well, you have Tom Spurgeon doing his Sunday interviews these days. I may very well do some weekend blogging when my blog goes live in 2008 as well.

  15. Landry Walker Says:

    Since you haven’t updated with this bit of news:

    http://blog.newsarama.com/2007/11/25/dan-vado-apologizes-to-z-cult-fm-and-well-everyone/

    I’m still being approached (or ignored) by people I was dealing with on behalf of SLG that don’t read the comments section of a news piece and subsequently no longer believe I have been acting with authority. Subsequently, please understand why I would like to see Dan’s apology and clarification reported as thoroughly as the “hoax” was.

    I understand that you’re tired of the topic. I am too. Beyond measure. But as the one who is dealing with their name being stripped of credibility without reason, it would be nice to see the exonerating information treated as importantly as the damning information.

    And if you still have doubts about the validity of my actions with Z-Cult, ask Dan to clarify.

  16. Landry Walker Says:

    Apparently, when I’m tired I overuse the word “subsequently”.

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