Comics are some of the most popular forms of literature in the world as they allow us to have a more vivid idea of what is happening in the story thanks to how they use a dialogue approach alongside images of the actual events in each panel. Thanks to the digital age, we are now capable of reading comics online on certain websites or even through apps. But is reading comics online on free websites illegal?
There are some websites where reading comics is legal because the authors purposely allowed them to be read for free. But if you are downloading and reading from unofficial websites, then that is obviously illegal. It depends on whether or not you are using a website that is legal or not.
The reason why reading comics online for free can be illegal is that there are some copyright laws that we need to strictly adhere to as those who wrote such comics need to be compensated and paid for their work. On the other hand, there will be some authors who offer their work for free depending on certain factors. It is now up to you to determine whether or not you are reading those free comics legally so that you can avoid getting into trouble with the law. But, in relation to determining whether certain websites are legal or not, that is where we come in to help you.
Is Reading Comics Online Illegal?
Comic books have always been some of the most popular forms of printed literature and may even be second to traditional novels or books. Actually, some of the most popular characters and names throughout history started from comic books. These names include Superman, Batman, and Spiderman.
But, because we live in the digital age now and because devices such as smartphones, tablets, and laptops are now used more widely than they have ever been in the past, more and more people are now reading books through their digital devices. There are websites and apps that allow people to read comic books either for free or for a fee because of how convenient it is for them to use websites and apps for reading. After all, it is easier to carry around these devices as they are light and they also don’t take up a ton of space.
However, you might be wondering whether or not it is actually legal to read comic books for free on websites and apps that offer them without any payment whatsoever. After all, it is quite easy to wonder the legality of doing so considering that buying the physical copies of comic books will require you to actually pay. So, if you need to pay for your physical comic books, should you also be paying for your online or digital comics?
Of course, you should. Art and literature should never be free unless the authors meant them to be free. That means that digital or online comic books that you read on websites should also be paid for because there are copyright laws that we need to follow. Anything that comes from the imagination and from the creativity of an author should never be free and should always be paid for except for when the author actually offers them without pay to the general public.
In that regard, when you are reading comics online on websites, you should actually be paying for them especially when you are reading from official websites. Most of these official websites allow you to subscribe to their vast library of digital comic books for a regular monthly fee. These are the websites where you will never run into any legal troubles if you read comic books from them because they are also paying for the comic books to be available in their library.
But what about those websites that offer online comic books for absolutely no payment at all? Well, for starters, such websites are more likely to be unofficial and are illegal if they are offering comic books for free. In that regard, they must have pirated such websites from other sources and then allowed them to be available in their online library without payment from the readers but are still profiting from the comics through the ads that are featured on the websites.
That said, if the comic books you read come from unofficial websites and are absolutely for free, then that is most likely illegal. But there are some exceptions, which we will be discussing shortly. This leads us to…
Can You Read Comics Online for Free Legally?
So now that you know that reading comics online for free is most likely something that is illegal and should not be done if you don’t want to run into some trouble with the authorities, is it still possible for you to read comic books online without having to pay for them and in a legal manner?
Well, there are some exceptions to the general rule that reading comic books online is illegal because there are some websites that, despite being free, are still able to provide you with certain comic books for you to read legally.
One such exception is when the author purposely meant for the comic books to be legal. There are some authors, for certain reasons such as publicity, who offer some of their comic book titles for free on websites. As such, it is okay for you to read them for free because they were supposed to be for free in the first place.
Another exception is when the comic book has already been out of print and is no longer being published for more than 10 years already. There are some independent groups that will offer such comic books for free via their websites in a legal way because the authors and the publishers will not be prejudiced profit-wise considering that the comic books are no longer even available for sale anywhere, in the first place.
Is There an App to Read Comic Books for Free?
Aside from online websites that offer comic books for free, there are also some apps that you can use on your mobile devices such as your smartphone or your tablet to read these comic books for free. Most of these apps are available for both iOS and Android devices for download.
While most of the comic book apps available for smartphones and tablets tend to be paid apps such as Amazon Kindle and Shonen Jump (for manga enthusiasts), there are still some apps that are free such as ComicRack, Perfect Viewer, Manga Rock, and ComiXology.
Most of those apps already have vast online libraries full of comics but Perfect Viewer is an exception because it is only meant for viewing comics you have already downloaded. Nevertheless, it is still highly regarded as one of the best comic book reader apps you can find on the market.
What Are the Best Places to Read Comics Online?
If you are looking for the best places to read comics online whether for free or for a paid subscription, here are the websites you should be going to:
ComiXology is free to download and also offers some titles for free but, if you want to make the most out of its vast library, you can pay a small sum to subscribe to this website. Founded in 2007, ComiXology is widely considered the best website and app to use for reading comics online because of its vast library and due to the fact that it offers you a very good and easy-to-use reader.
2. Marvel Unlimited
Marvel Unlimited is the official source for all Marvel Comics. Of course, because it is Marvel’s official website for Marvel Comics such as Spider-Man and Iron Man, you need to pay a subscription fee to unlock an unlimited library full of Marvel comic book titles.
3. DC Comics
Originally known as Detective Comics, the DC comic book universe is home to characters such as Superman and Batman. So, if you want to read such comic book titles, you have to go to DC Comics, which is the official website for all of the comics published under DC. Of course, you also have to pay a subscription fee as well.
4. Digital Comic Museum
If you are looking for a website that is perfect for free so that you won’t have any troubles with the legality of reding comics online for free, Digital Comic Museum should be a good choice for you as this website has comics that are free of copyright and are made to be read for absolutely no payment at all. The titles might not be the best but you may end up with some gems that are undiscovered by making use of Digital Comic Museum.
5. Comic Book Plus
One of the oldest free websites for comic books is Comic Book Plus, which is similar to Digital Comic Museum in the sense that there are no copyright laws violated when you read the comics for free. Most of the comics you can find on this website come from the silver and golden ages of comic books, which are quite old but are still very much gems.
6. Crunchy Roll
Even though Crunchy Roll is widely known for being an anime streaming website, it also has a separate section for manga readers or for fans of Japanese comics. So, if you are an avid fan of manga and you want to read them for free with absolutely no copyright laws violated, Crunchy Roll should be a fabulous choice for you.