David Brothers, in a long and thoroughly thought through post, sets the case that Marvel comics made available for illegal download are sourced from art files coming from Marvel itself. Indeed, he makes the case that someone inside Marvel is leaking, citing pages such as the following with lettering flaws – words from a different page on one, or missing tricky fonts on another.
He eliminates a number of options, fans uploading legally downloaded digital files, press copies, the digital distributors themselves, or retailer previews. Instead he points the finger directly into the heart of Marvel itself, the only place such files, especially those with such lettering errors, could have come from.
It is possible someone has found a way to hack into Marvel's FTP site. It is possible that they have hacked into the Marvel section of the printer's database. David considers that an employee of Marvel is making them available, though the prevous versions sound more realistic right now.
Marvel have let a number of employees go recently, under rather unfortunate circumstances. Is there any possibility one of them passed on certain passwords as an act of revenge? Or is it just, as these things often are, a door that has been left open that no one has noticed?
As a result of David's article, I expect Marvel to initiate some rather swift security measures. Let's see if anything has changed… next week.
But one interesting thing that he doesn't touch on is the implications for other publishers. I've always believed that much of the pirated material originated from a small number of comic store clerks, scanning in printed copies, gathered the day before the comic is on sale. But talking to publishers, I've been given the impression that printers or distributors are also under suspicion. If these Marvel pirated comics are coming from printers files, and are so different to other scanned comics, it would seem to eliminate printers as the main source of pirated comics for the last few years.