FBI Shuts Down Free Online Comics Database HTMLComics

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On Wednesday, online comics “library” HTMLcomics was shut down and had its servers confiscated by the FBI working in tandem with the U.S. Department of Justice and Marvel Comics, DC Comics, Dark Horse Comics, Bongo Comics, Archie Comics, Conan Properties Int’l LLC, Mirage Studios Inc., and United Media.  Actually the press release simply states that the publishers involved in reporting the copyright infringement “include” the eight companies mentioned above.

As Robot 6 says:

It seems to be the first time that comics publishers have banded together like this to take down a site, rather than just sending out cease-and-desist notices, but it also may be unique. The owner of the site, Gregory Steven Hart, operated out in the open and made no attempt to conceal what he was doing; indeed, he seems to be convinced he was running a legal enterprise.

Though the press release of Katten Muchin Rosenman, a firm involved in the warrant process, uses its diction to demonize HTMLComics at every opportunity, eve it has to admit that the site was successful in no uncertain terms.

Prior to the combined efforts of the consortium and the authorities, Htmlcomics was believed to have been the largest, best-known and most easily accessible website of its kind, producing rampant copyright infringement on a daily basis and depriving artists and publishers of hard-earned and much-needed revenue. By April 2010, the website claimed to have an average of 1.6 million visits per day and more than 6,630,021 pages of comic books offered for unrestricted viewing.

Users of the site were not allowed to download the comics, which were viewable from cover to cover, simply to page through them for free.  This, and the fact that he never posted any issues less than six months old, are features that Hart believed put him in a category with lending libraries.  Of course, lending libraries uh, pay money in order to get their books.

If you’re salivating at the idea of a legal online searchable, browsable library of all comics history, you’re not alone.  Comics Alliance’s Alan Kistler talks about why the industry needs to jump on this, and provide a legal alternative to online comic piracy to deter the scanners.

(via Robot 6.)


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Susana Polo
Susana Polo thought she'd get her Creative Writing degree from Oberlin, work a crap job, and fake it until she made it into comics. Instead she stumbled into a great job: founding and running this very website (she's Editor at Large now, very fancy). She's spoken at events like Geek Girl Con, New York Comic Con, and Comic Book City Con, wants to get a Batwoman tattoo and write a graphic novel, and one of her canine teeth is in backwards.