Marvel, Disney and the Intellectual Property of Comics

An oft-mentioned aspect of the digital comic discussion at the San Diego Comic Con this year was the role of intellectual property rights, as both a source of revenue for creators but also as victim to widespread comics piracy. As with so many popular artistic endeavors, the creators themselves often expressed ambivalent feelings towards intellectual property conceptions, especially in light of technological changes radically undermining the traditional business models of comics publishing. Many of the most interesting comic book creators I heard at the Con seemed to recognize that new distribution models, digital comics in particular, could create innovative avenues for exposure and revenue, even if every digital copy was not purchased in the same way a physical comic book would had been. On the other hand, every publisher I encountered at the Con seemed to have the precise opposite opinion, that physical and digital property required the exact same treatment both legally and economically, despite the fundamental differences between an economy of scarcity and one of ubiquity. Read the rest of this entry ยป