Biff Bam Popcast Episode V: Digital Comics and Comic-Con

Get ready, folks! The next edition of the Biff Bam Popcast begins at 10pm. If you miss it live, it’s archived below. If you have questions as we go, be sure to send a tweet to @biffbampop!

2 Replies to “Biff Bam Popcast Episode V: Digital Comics and Comic-Con”

  1. The issue of copies (especially digital one) is a difficult one. I’m not sure how I would weigh in on the question Andy poses at the opening of the discussion. On one hand, you *have* already paid for the content, so downloading a digital version of the material you already “own” is not the same kind of theft that someone else (someone who never gave the author a penny) would be committing if they downloaded the same pirated file. However, the digitization process is labor. By downloading the digital copies one will, if nothing else, deprive workers (from whatever company is responsible for doing the media translation) of money that you rightfully owe them. With digital copies, it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that we are paying for service and labor (which typically presents itself to us in the form of a digital “product,” however ephemeral that is or feels), not just content. Possibly complicating the issue here is Andy’s honestly expressed desire to own these digital versions, which brings me to one of my own moral conundrums…

    How do you feel about downloading pirated copies (songs, lit, video, etc.) of material you know you would never pay for? In other words, the author or creator was *never* (ever!) going to get your money. Let’s say you’re the type of person who would never pay for an auto-tuned piece of trash mp3 track that parades as music these days, but you download one because you want to use it for a practical joke, or you just want to hear it (because everyone is talking about it or you read a review) and it isn’t available on youtube (for whatever reason), or (insert other reason here)… Is that okay? If the artist was never going to get your money because you never really wanted it that badly, is it okay to download a copy? In a similar vein, can we regard pirated material as background radio/TV transmissions that we just select or pick up out of curiosity in order to see if we would actually like to purchase genuine copies? For some people, the digital is always second best: nothing beats the quality and presence of a hardcopy. Some people are this way for music, video, and text. So, a digital copy for them is an introduction to something they’re either willing to go out and pay money for (and they will go out and buy the hardcopy), or it’s just something they had a passing interest in, but, upon reading/watching/listening to it, they realize that they would never want to truly own it. Then it’s just digital detritus on their hard drive, waiting to be trashed.

    Finally, what can we say about material that has gone out of print? Like, what if Elfquest or Taboo or some other semi-obscure, quasi-alternative series or work is no longer available for sale through amazon or chapters (Clowes’ entire Eightball series is a good example)? And let’s say that the only way to own the book(s) is to pay top collector coin on ebay or at the local comix shoppe: what kind of ethical obligation presents itself to us? In order to consider ourselves morally upright, do we need to hand over the big, big money to some other collector (knowing that the creators never see that money), or can we – because the material is no longer in print – excuse ourselves for seeking out pirated editions?

    Just a few thoughts.

    1. Hey Wolfticket – some interesting points to ponder, for sure. Your third paragraph intrigues me. Being a hard-lined hard-copy person, I don’t think there’s any real valid excuse for seeking out pirated editions. I’m finding that each subsequent argument that we come up with simply greys an individual’s moral line. It’s almost like the arguments keep pressing until someone relinquishes the ideals they once believed in! Crazy!

      That said, it’s a pretty special feeling to have a “holy grail” to search out. One that potentially lasts for years! Sure, ebay is available, but it’s not the same as questing high and low, in various towns, cities and countries – and then FINALLY finding what you were looking for.

      I’ve been lucky to have a positive outcome once or twice in my life in terms of finding a particular hard-sought-for comic book or vinyl record. It’s a great feeling of accomplishment – something that an easily-found pirated copy or a possible (easy) ebay search doesn’t allow.

      And I’ve still got a few items on that “holy grail” list to keep me occupied in the years ahead!

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