Funnybook Babylon

April 22, 2008

From Hong Kong with Love

Filed under: Blurbs — Joseph Mastantuono @ 2:44 pm

Found this in my Google reader today and it sparked a few things in my head about the whole blogiverse.

Darren DiLieto has been ripped off by some Hong Kong based publisher who has printed a bunch of copies of work that’s been on his website, and selling hard bound hardcovers for around $100 in various comic shops around the world. Pretty shitty if you’ve been working hard on a blog/website for precisely this sort of deal to fall into your lap, only to have someone do it, and simply not tell you about it. I bet if the Hong Kong company had approached him, he would have been happy to sign off on the book for peanuts.

The thing is, this really illustrates that the entire concept of copyright and intellectual property is a relatively new idea speaking culturally, and on top of that a very western one. I want to make absolutely clear that as a) a western person, and b) a person that hopes to one day make money off the internet or intellectual property of some kind, I’m not trying to defend this unjust act by this shady publisher. However, historically, this is something that’s been par for course rather than an anomaly. Doesn’t make it right, it is absolutely something we have to try to fight against, however, so often do I sit in discussions about how “the RIAA is $CREWING USSS” and “MPAA more liek KKK” discussions. While you may not love those big lobbying organizations, those people are out there pissing into the wind against exactly this sort of piracy, but there they are! Of course there’s the whole suing kids for using Limewire thing, but isn’t the same thing at the end of the day? I think they may be such jerks about it simply because the idea of intellectual property is such a delicate one, and the way they see it, and cracks, and the whole dam starts to break.

Possibly the most interesting thing I found about this was this comment on Darren’s blog:

Ben Gordon comments:
April 17th, 2008 at 7:32 pm

Hi, May I suggest an alternate point of view?
1. The harm done is negligible (though it does sting!)
2. The opportunity created is tremendous!

Assemble the victims, form a group with a media-catchy acronym name, and bullet out press releases announcing a colorful non-violent protest campaign, including stealing all their company cafeteria trays for your home use, putting their company logo and founders face on t-shirts and other appropriations. Make a quick fake web site for their company that includes images of fetish and semi-fraudulent come-ons. Put the URL on your press release and hit the NY Times, Wall St Journal, Jon Stewart show, etc. Include links to stolen work. This is the publicity opportunity of a lifetime!

I spent five years as a consultant helping people with this kind of stuff. Done boldly and energetically, it can make you famous.

How did I hear about this particular case of piracy?

On my google reader, I hit the link of Heidi MacDonald’s The Beat, to Stuart Immomen’s blog, to Darren’s Blog. I hadn’t heard of Darren’s site (or their sponsor! before this. I’m sure I’m not the only one… At least in this day and age you get a booby prize of increased attention, and a possible future book deal. If this had happened 20 years ago, you wouldn’t have gotten even that, just the headache of a possible legal battle. 100 years ago you wouldn’t have heard of it, and 400 hundred years ago you wouldn’t even have a legal recourse.

Welcome the the IP/fame/money jujitsu match of the 21st century.

It ain’t always fair, but it can’t possibly be as bad as it used to be.


  1. Well, this never would have happened four hundred years ago, one hundred years ago, or probably even twenty years ago, because the mechanisms for them to access and steal the work wouldn’t have been in place.

    I don’t know, I realize that groups like the MPAA/RIAA are sometimes unfairly demonized, but they’re also the same people who effectively did this (and at times are still trying to do this today) for decades before creative types really understood intellectual property. Going back further, the main reason Hollywood is in Hollywood is to duck out on paying licensing fees to Edison for his patented motion picture technology, the RIAA has very little interest in passing along the protections and profits of their industry to the recording artists, etc. etc.

    I agree that increased connectivity and the fluidity of today’s communication media is a net positive, but I don’t know that “creator’s rights” have really improved in any appreciable way. But I’m sure I’m forgetting something.

    Comment by Chris Eckert — April 23, 2008 @ 11:08 am

  2. What I was trying to illustrate with ‘this wouldn’t have happened’ is that I meant that for the original creator to drum up even just some sort of awareness for his cause, would was not an option.

    It’s just a strange world we live in where having your book stolen and rights trampled upon could be a net positive for your business.

    I’m sure you could find examples in history of similar occurrences, but this particular one really struck me as an oddity…

    Comment by Joseph Mastantuono — April 23, 2008 @ 11:17 am

  3. I think the biggest difference between this and the RIAA/MPAA controversy is that in this case the people stealing are profiting off of his work. He lets people read his work for free, so he’s pretty obviously not in the position of the RIAA

    Comment by bgaesop — April 27, 2008 @ 9:33 pm

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URL

Leave a comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Powered by WordPress