The ongoing saga of Z-Cult FM continues to unfold, but it appears an end may be in sight.
In our last update, Z-Cult announced they would remove all Marvel related torrents from their trackers and had instituted a new 7-day policy for all new DC Comics related torrents. Today, forum administrator Serj posted a letter sent to the site from DC Comics requesting the removal of all torrents related to DC Comics material from their site.
In addition, Top Cow Studios also requested the removal of their material, noting that Top Cow offers legal downloads of their backlist through Direct2Drive.
From Top Cow:
Top Cow and ZCult FM have agreed to have all torrents of Top Cow comics removed from ZCult FM's website and trackers. ZCult FM has been incredibly professional and cordial in working with us to protect our copyrighted material. Top Cow sells our comics and graphic novels in comic shops, major book retailers, and online but we also offer digital downloads of our material legally through Direct2Drive.com. We also have a variety of first issues available to read on our website (www.topcow.com) and we're providing ZCult FM with a number of special preview issues of Madame Mirage, The Darkness, Wanted, Tomb Raider, and Witchblade to share with you. We really appreciate how easy Serj and ZCult FM have been to work with and hope you guys will check out our digital download offerings.
With the DC & Marvel torrents no longer available – easily the largest draws for the site – the question remains what's next for Z-Cult FM. Serj noted in a letter that for the time being they will stay in operation and likely evolve the site.
What effect will this have on illegal comics downloading? As one of the most popular destinations for illegal comics downloads amongst the comics community, it will likely only slow things down in the short term. The trading of illegally scanned comics was not just limited to Z-Cult FM, are widely available on numerous Torrent web sites with a very large concentration of illegal scans available on Usenet. There's also the chance another site like Z-Cult FM could emerge in the coming weeks.
Where previously it seemed most publishers watched from afar the activities of sites like Z-Cult, now they're taking action, although future requests may not go as easily. Z-Cult had an unusual policy in place for a torrent tracking site – giving publishers the opportunity via their DMCA policy to request the removal of copyrighted materials from Z-Cult. Most, if not all, other torrent trackers don't offer such an option for a copyright holder to request the removal of their product. Furthermore, other sites may not be so fast to cooperate with the copyright holders, potentially creating a protracted legal battle.
Regardless, these actions do signal a major shift in approach from comics publishers related to illegal comics downloading.