reading comics online legal illegal legit

Is it Illegal to Read Comics Online? [The Legal Background]

Comics has been very popular among teenagers and some adults nowadays, but the thing is most of the comic publishers like Marvel, DC ComicsBoom Studios, AC Comics, etc offer comics for subscriptions or as printed books, sometimes there may be free versions. However you have to purchase them to read. With the evolution of the internet and technology, people are looking for everything on the internet. Same way people have started to try reading comics online, rather than purchasing hard copies of comic books. There are many legal and illegal websites on the internet to access and read comics. But the problem is is it legal to read comics on the internet? Let’s dig into this by this article.

Why We Have to Pay for Comics?

The simplest answer is because they are properties of the creators and the authors have taken the copyright of the characters. Almost all the official artists have copyrights to their works and they protected as their intellectual properties. For an example DC Comics rights are owned by Warner Bros Company. No one can republish them and if you do so they can take legal actions against you. If you own some kind of characters which introduced by yourself you can register your cartoon/artwork by submitting application Form to the US Copyright Office, if you based on US.

No matter where you find them may be on a bookshop as printed books or online websites, you have to pay for them. But there are many free royalty-free comics as well where you can find them online.

How to Determine whether online comics are legal or not?

When we talking about this, first thing that we come to our mind is “Are you paying for the comics that you are reading online?” If not, we know that is stealing, right? Yes. because the copyright owner is not receiving their royalty when you download from unofficial websites.If so we have to consider when it is acceptable to download copyrighted material from the internet, and when it is not

For example, let’s say you are planning to read a very famous classic comic book or series which is not publishing nowadays and has been out of print for 10-12 years. You may find them form some places rarely but would be so expensive.If it is a comic that an owned by an independent group of artists offers for free, then that could be also okay.

On the other hand, there are many comics available to find that their artists are still developing them, and of course, they need some compensation for their works. Because they work very hard to entertain you. As we believe artists should never have to work for free. When you download their works for free, you are stealing their work which is not polite.

Sometimes if you find copyrighted material on a free website that offers comics for free and that website which hosts the images does not own the copyright or have permission to post it, then yes it is illegal to view.You’re Much unlikely caught to legal authorities regarding their copyrights unless you’re downloading comics for large scale (eg: for distributing them, publish them somewhere else or sell them) but technically yes it is illegal. These copyrighted material are posted in the circumstances of a review, a joke or something similar that, these would be protected by Fair Use law. but if you are reading full series of scanned comics on online websites and you didn’t pay DC to Marvel or whoever owns the copyright for the privilege, then that’s almost always against the law.

In a situation where website owners have the right to include the comics, for example if it is an original webcomic that the website authors wrote, or if the original publishers named to share it for free, then you are totally fine and you are doing nothing wrong.

Is it Illegal to Read Comics Online? [The Legal Background]
Photo by Clem Onojeghuo

Is it legal to download the comics?

Well, as we discussed above we can conclude that it is legal only if they are issued for free preview, or else issues bought through a site in which the publisher grants you that permission as part of your comixology purchase.

Most of the time If it’s full issues of the retail comics and you didn’t have to open an account of that site to check out (even for free issued comics ) then probably those are illegal.

Is there a place to legally read comics online for free?

Most of famous publishers have some free comics offered for downloads. Those are generally promotional books or maybe samples of full series to encourage you to buy more. We can mention the following places which offers some free comics. As per our reviews those are all legit as most of the time its Illegal to Read Comics Online

Marvel’s Official Site

More than 50 free issues are available here. If you are Marvel fan this could be the best free comics space for you.

Amazon Kindle Store

Amazon kindle store features hundreds of comics to readers. If you are not willing to pay for them, you can browse the catalogue for free offerings. You will find a lot of good comics for free, and also paid comics as well.

Read DC

Read DC also another great publisher who provides a free and paid version of comics. you will need an account to add them to your cart and purchase it for free.

DC Kids

just like Marvel, DC offers impressive comics to read. They have some free comics which are offered to get free.


This is also is an Amazon company. Similar to DC’s official site and Marvel you can subscribe or purchase comics here. In addition to that, you can get read comics online for free.


Depending on how you use it Reading online comics have both legal and illegal aspects.  There are lots of comics on the internet which only released online reading but at most of places its Illegal to Read Comics Online. For an example “webcomics and also recent Sonic Forces comic adaptation”. And also there are some websites that legally host and offer comic books for the users under the license of the owners.  However, reading comics online in a way that is not officially licensed by the creators to bypass their subscription for the comic is an illegal activity. Our advice is to avoid illegal sources always to read comics online.

Leave a Reply