Saturday, June 26, 2010

Piracy and out of print items

There's a question I'm wondering what others think about.

As suggested by Intellectual property and piracy, my feelings on "piracy" are, well, complicated, but I know other people's are less so.

But what are people's feelings on things that are out of print, nearly impossible to find or whatever?

Let's take a look at an example that comes to mind off the top of my head.

It's simple to see the argument of downloading or otherwise copying or pirating copies of the current run of The X-Men or nearly any run since its beginning, as they are largely reprinted or could be expected to be reprinted at some point in the not too distant future, because, hell, it's The frickin' X-Men!

But what about Master of Kung Fu? Until Marvel re-acquires the rights to Fu Manchu, which there's no reason to believe they ever will again, these are likely to remain out of print. If one goes out and pays whatever it would take, at whatever effort, to pick up a collection of back issues, there's no reason to assume anyone involved will profit. Not Marvel, not Steve Englehart, not Jim Starlin, not the Sax Rohmer estate, not anyone who came along later.

Now, I'm not arguing that you or I or anyone else has what I'd define as a right to have these books, and certainly whoever possesses copies deserves whatever they can get for the books themselves as collectible items. But what they have is of ephemeral monetary value. If one can and does acquire copies through means outside the back issue market, they lose some part of their value, but then if Marvel were to print a new trade paperback, they'd lose that part of their value anyway.

I'm aware that most likely among my readers are people who are people who are unambiguously against downloading intellectual property and people who are unambiguously in favor of it, in some manner or another.

Anyone have an opinion on this one they want to throw in the mix?

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