Submitted by Xaviar Xerexes on March 20, 2004 - 22:14
Jan Van Tol is the author of the software program Comictastic mentioned in an earlier news post this week. Van Tol posted an open letter to cartoonists this past Wednesday.
by Anonymous - 03/22/2004 - 14:57
Unauthorized distribution is also illegal. Does this affect your view at all? *curious*
by Anonymous - 03/22/2004 - 15:17
Comictastic isn't distributing the comic. The distribution already happens via HTTP. Comictastic works the same way as any other browser in this respect. Comictastic isn't a distributor or syndicator.
by Anonymous - 03/22/2004 - 15:26
My point is thus: be ready to change your mind for the sake of your readers. Focus on what matters. Is it your web page, or your comic art itself? Is it readership or revenue? Be willing to hear unpleasant facts about technology and your readership that you really don't want to believe. This guy clearly understands something about how to make online comics more successful by changing the presentation format. If we tells you "X or Y won't work," think about it: do you really need X or Y? What alternatives would be acceptable?
I guess we're going to disagree on this one. I don't think it should be readership OR revenue. I think it should be readership AND revenue. The X oy Y that apparently don't work for the ripper developer are advertising, subscriptions, merchandising, and anything about the presentation of the comic apart from the actual comic image file itself.
by Anonymous - 03/22/2004 - 22:10
I don't see what all the fuss is about. If you want to force people to se your ads, just make a single image of your web page. That way you have total control on how the page looks. Personally, I agree with the author of comictastic: the solution is not to force ads down your reader's throat, but rather to give them what they want at a price they are willing to pay. A subscription based model with a delivery system like comictastic seems very appealing to me.
by Anonymous - 03/23/2004 - 21:56
While not the ideal solution, as people can just not use the updated version (although they will never get access to the new features if they choose this), it's the best solution you have now that it's already been released.
Could he have added the feature in the first place? Of course. Did he think of it? Who knows. I think working with Comictastic (and others of it's type) is a better method then outright blocking it, but everyone is entitled to an opinion of course ;) I think it's better to say "make it so my ads have to be viewed in your program and I won't block users that use your program" would be a better solution.
by Anonymous - 03/25/2004 - 17:40
[Melquiades again, not logged in] While I agree that the ethics of Van Tol's program are dubious, I think your metaphor buries the real complexity of the situation. And it is a complex, and interesting, situation. I'll torture the metaphor even further, and try to paint a better picture:
The situation is more like this: Ghastly has something of value (comic) -- sure, we'll just call it money for the sake of argument, though this buries that fact that physical and intellectual property operate in wildly different ways -- which he keeps in a newsstand on the street (website) with a big sign that says "free money -- take some."
Standing next to his newsstand are people (advertisers) wearing sandwich board advertisements (banner ads), who are quietly counting people (audience) as they walk up to take their free money. The sandwich board people then pay Ghastly according to how many people walk up.
Van Tol notices that many people don't like to walk across the street to get their free money, so he started selling robots that will pick up some free money for you (Comictastic). This turned out to be very popular. But the sandwich board people don't count the robots, Ghastly grows less wealthy than he thinks he might otherwise.
So ... is Van Tol unethical, even though Ghastly is still handing out the free money to the robots? But what if he posts a sign that says "humans only", starts asking the robots if they're human, and they say "yes" -- is it unethical then? Is that just unethical, or illegal? If it's illegal, should he sue the person who built the robots, or the many people who are using them, or both?
But wait... What if Van Tol says, "Look, I don't care about the sandwich boards; I just want to help my lazy customers not have to walk across the street. I won't stop building the robots, but I'd be happy to change them so that they'll bring back flyers from the sandwich board people or something like that, if you could just have hand out flyers for the robots to take." If such an offer is sincere, is Van Tol still a thief (as you suggest) or a sexual criminal (as Ghastly suggested)? Regardless of whether he is, would the course of action most likely to benefit the artists still be ignoring his suggestions and suing him?
The question that I wish artists were asking, instead just of lining up with their torches and pitchforks at Van Tol's door, is this: Why are those robots so darned popular? What are they doing right? What can we learn from their success?
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