Saturday, July 5, 2008

On Resistance

"Be wary of the larger companies moving into the Webcomics world. Most of these are nothing but "IP Farms" out mostly to sign and control as much intellectual property as possible for future manipulation in other, more profitable media such as movies and video games."

Next, be sure you've read this link from Fleen, a fine piece of reporting, or what I say next won't make sense.

I've written before about how the independent comic hosting site Drunk Duck was purchased by Platinum Studios, which qualifies as an IP Farm move. I have long advised people not to put comics on Drunk Duck because I fear the user agreement will cause them to lose rights to their work. I've also said this about Zuda, though people are more aware of that site's requirements.

The latest news is already old -- that Platinum may buy WOWIO, the pay-per-download service that provides revenue to many comic creators. We can probably assume that this will mean WOWIO will become unavailable to those of us who want to protect our rights.

If you followed that Fleen link above, you know how shabbily Platinum has treated DJ Coffman. I don't know the man myself, or read his work, but I am sad for him.

What I want to know is, why haven't any webcomics people slapped up "Boycott the Duck" logos? I don't say this because I am political, or anti-capitalist -- I'm not.

I say it because a feisty response would be a shot across the bow of the IP Farms, but even that isn't my only reason. I don't think they'll ever gain more than a foothold in webcomics.

My other reason is that it would be priceless free publicity if we mount a David Vs. Goliath insurgency against soulless corporate exploitation. Fifty webcomics with the insignia of a counter-attack on their home page would hit the national media, and people unaware of our existence would tune in, bringing audience expansion. That would strengthen us for future defense of our livelihoods and artistic visions.

Unfortunately, someone with a much bigger webcomic than my two would have to be the leader. They'd have to arrange and distribute a graphic, and declare the date to post it. They'd have to manage a press release.

Of course, there are plenty willing to help with these tasks, but someone with 50,000+ readers has to be the honcho. It has to be someone who can speak articulately, in case Steven Colbert calls, although the spokesperson and leadership roles could be split.

The leader would need to know they could rely on the support of other influential players.

This would not be about DJ Coffman, and would have to function with complete remove from him, so that he can mount any legal challenges on his own. This would be about the threat of us falling into Coffman's position. If he benefits, that would be a collateral win.

Feel free to copy this post and send it wherever you think it should go. If you agree, send it to other comics blogs that go beyond reviews and ask them to stake out a position, for the reason that my readership is too small to guarantee the idea will be received and considered. Introduce it in forums.

If it's the right time, it will take off. But it's possible we need more blood first.