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This, However, Is Not Okay

A little bit of scanning put up for free on the web every now and then, I’m okay with. It doesn’t hurt anybody. This, however, is not okay. And I’ve seen it a lot over the years, this is just today’s example emailed to me:

eBay: Warren Ellis’ Transmetropolitan Complete(!) Comic Set (item 6618096108 end time Apr-03-06 11:52:38 PDT) Current bid: GBP 3.70 (Approximately US $6.46)

Taking something that’s mine and getting people to give you money for it? I’m going to come looking for you. Other people might too. See, when you just decide that you have the right to sell my work for your own profit… when you decide, in fact, that you want me to receive fewer royalties for my work, therefore making it harder for me to do things like buy new shoes for my daughter… that’s something I’m going to take an interest in.

Published in comics talk


  1. I bet someone in the MAKE forum could come up with a bowel disruptor for you.

  2. Laramie Wall Laramie Wall

    Mr. Ellis… you command a veritible army, at your service, just command and we shall all condemn this harlot with poor feed back
    and postcards soaked in urine.
    We await only thine order.

  3. Jay Jay

    What depresses me is that he probably doesn’t see what he’s doing as wrong. Just because you share stuff online (meeting the definition of “casual copying” or “fair use” by thinnest possible margin, if at all) does NOT mean that it’s yours and you can do whatever you want with it.

    Warren, you find the guy, and I’ll hold him down while you beat him to death with your cane.

  4. patient_0 patient_0

    The jerkoff probably thinks he’s your biggest fan, too.

  5. Simon Simon

    I’m sorry. I’m perhaps confused with regard to what is going on here. This person, or these people, are selling trade paperback editions of the Transmetropolitan series on ebay, correct?

    If it’s something else, just disregard what follows.

    To my mind, if the original purchaser paid for the books, likely when they were new (and so provided Mr. Ellis his royalties on those copies), the books are his to sell as he pleases. Further, the person posting the books on ebay has not merely decided he has the right to resell the books, it is the economic system in which ebay is embedded, unless I misunderstand the laws with regard to these things.

    It seems to me to just be the selling of used books.

    I like being able to buy used books. Used books are nice when one doesn’t have the cash to buy new copies, and the market exchange of used books is a little nicer when the items one wants are no longer in print.

    Though, I wonder what Mr. Ellis’ position is with regard to the sale of used books that are not comic books. I assume it is the same as his position on comic books, but it may not be.

    Perhaps I am just too free marketish in my outlook with regard to these matters.

    Hopefully, I’m not pissing anyone off too much, or reading like a complete ass.

  6. He’s selling SCANS of the books, Simon. On DVD.

  7. Dave Bonner Dave Bonner

    No, he’s selling dvds with scanned in copies of the original singles.

  8. Simon Simon

    Yeah, okay, that’s criminal. Guess I don’t read so good.

  9. Paul Ryan Paul Ryan

    More likely than not the guy didn’t even buy the books and scan them. He probably downloaded them all from Bit Torrent. Sue his ass!

  10. I was going to ask Simon’s question, too. I guess he and I share a bad habit of skimming what we read. So now – HELLS YEAH! Let’s go git ‘im!! C’mon, W – just give us our marching orders. Or maybe stomping orders… that’d be fun…


  11. Nevertheless, I buy them from Amazon.Com and I also pay VAT AND parcel & postage, therefore
    the balance in nature is preserved, Warren.

  12. Already logged, before I wrote the post.

  13. Hundred Handed One Hundred Handed One

    That’s not fucking cool.
    It’s like what Thompson said about drugs. He liked the people that made them and gave them away, and hated scabby little dealers.
    I never been alright with anyone reselling stuff they got for free, like the DVD/screener stuff you see in shitty convenience stores everywhere.

  14. MrPerson MrPerson

    Thankfully, more and more people are realizing how stupid it is to fall for a scam like that, especially with all the file-downloading that goes on today. The “Please buy stuff I downloaded off the internet for lots of money” thing just doesn’t work as well as it used to.

    The page is misleading, too, in that it seems like it’s for the full collection until one gets to the bottom of the page, where, hidden in a whole lotta text, is the fact that it’s on DVD. Someone with an Ebay account just needs to report the ass.

  15. Sent a complaint to eBay, for what it’s worth. eBay is full of scum. I was looking for an iPod a while back, and half the ones on eBay came full of pirated music as “added value”. Fuckers.

  16. No, he probably doesn’t realize it’s wrong. He thinks he has a pretty good scam of selling the same thing over and over again.

    Just like some of my students now who cut and paste their essays from the internet with none of their original writing.

  17. Michael Climek Michael Climek

    Warren- you go get the bastard.

    If it were out of print work I could vaguely see the guys point.

    (how else is someone going to read your run on Doom2099?)

    But for Transmet- you go kick his fucking ass.

    (And I’d much rather give you money for Doom2099. Not somebody else).

  18. Denyer Denyer

    To a certain extent it’s the same argument as filesharing — I wouldn’t have bought a large chunk of Hitman pre-broadband without reading the series first, and it’s not something any of my comics-reading friends are into. The situation’s way too easily abused by profiteers, though.

    eBay’s getting unusable in some respects because of the glut of counterfeit stuff… anyone wanting a demonstration, just browse the UK index for DVDs. Copied porn, mostly.

  19. Lucien Lucien

    [waves a homemade “Go Throatfucking Hounds of Hell” flag]

  20. First time poster (longtime reader), but this post caught my attention. Definitely uncool.

    Speaking hypothetically, if I were to find something via bittorrent, downloaded it, and found myself enjoying it, then I’d feel obligated to purchase the comics or TPBs to give something back to the artists involved. It’s a good tradeoff, hypothetically speaking, of course.

    By the way, I’ve really enjoyed “Planetary”. Only got into it recently, read the entire series (thus far), plus the crossovers, hope to see it completed soon. And this is coming from someone who hadn’t read a comic book in ten years, but reading “V for Vendetta” seems to have started an avalanche (I’ve read BK Vaughan’s “Runaways”, your series, with “Y: The Last Man” coming up next, and more of your work, of course).

  21. chris chris

    that guys a scumbag. I bought all of mine.

  22. You should send the holy slut army out to destroy them. If they have not already been deployed.

  23. Okay. That’s it. I’m going to scan all of my feces and make him buy it.

  24. Ben Ben

    “…Release the Hounds”

  25. Matt Matt

    “Contact seller”

    If we all report him for selling copyrightable stuffage?

  26. What a bleeding wanker.

  27. Sharing and downloading scanned material I have few moral problems with. That’s about the only way to get hold of “Miracleman” or old issues of “Hellblazer” (like “Shoot”, which is also available direcly on the net: THIS, however, is just plain theft, both from author and customer.
    And what idiot with internet access would want to pay money for stuff he could DL for free?
    (And I _really_ can’t imagine reading through the entire Transmetropolitan-series on a computerscreen.)

  28. Between shit like this, the corporately funded file sharing networks, the RIAA/MPAA mafia and the shrill bleating from the everything-should-be-free crowd, the Internet has pretty much non-consentaully buggered Copyright into a bleeding, quivering mass.

  29. RMC RMC

    Jesus, Warren! You have acolytes! Not that I don’t agree, mind. Get Grant Morrison to throw bad juju at these transgressors! In fact, better idea– tell this guy you’ll spare him if he pays some dues and releases Flex Mentallo onto the net. Karma is served!

  30. Brian Brennan Brian Brennan

    I can’t imagine that he could make much money of of that–while it seems to me that online/computer-based distribution of comics might take place someday, there’s something about holding a comic in your hand–even if you have a hi-res comp. monitor/TV of some sort, I don’t see how you could blow the page shots up to full screen size and preserve the graphic quality…actually, the only people I can imagine being interested would be uber-Transmet fans who just can’t resist buying anything related to the book–I can see someone purchasing it for novelty value, but not as a substitute for the actual comic. I would think that E-Bay would be open to shutting the sale down, assuming it’s violating copyright-reproduction-etc laws in some way…

    Here is something, though: I can understand putting someone putting their collection on their hd (or cd/dvd for personal use–I mean, at some point being a comic book nerd gets to be a space issue. At some point The Girlfriend demands that closet be liberated, in the name of shoe storage and ski gear. Even with what I sad about the lesser quality, I’d pass on the majority of the stuff I hold on to (all of which I hold on to out of sentimality/the intention to corrupt the mind of any future progeny of mine) if I could scan it. Do you think that’s alright? Because there’s a basic risk, there–even if a person does not, at the time, intend to send their complete scanned set of Whatever into the world, at some point they might, or someone else might, and after that what’s done is done.

  31. paul paul

    “At some point The Girlfriend demands that closet be liberated, in the name of shoe storage and ski gear.”

    You need to get a new girlfriend, man. The only response to that kind of ultimatum is to load all said shoes/ski gear into a suitcase and fling it out the window with instructions for her to follow in the manner most convivial to her. She can be certain her new apartment will have far more shoe storage space.

    Like a woman’s shoes, a man’s books are sacrosanct and “love me, love my books” is the whole of the law.

    Back on topic: This eBay pirate needs some liberal application of the Chair-leg of Truth.

  32. The Craig The Craig

    As well as mail-bombing the turd selling, don’t forget it’s important to go after the numb-nuts who have bid on it.


  33. This is worth looking at seriously. In 5 years e-ink will be everywhere, flexiscreens that read like paper and then people will be downloading everything they read.

    Right now musicians run scared of people not buying their discs any more because of p2p downloading, but in the future authors are going to have a hard time getting anyone to buy their books.

    Right now few want to squint at a computer screen but check out and you’ll see the way it’s gonna be in the future.

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