Out of curiosity, how exactly do you know it didn't make a dent in piracy? I'm personally unaware of any studies that are currently keeping track of what the piracy levels are like these days, nor am I aware of how one would go about conducting such studies in the first place. It's not exactly the kind of thing people will usually admit to when questioned. I know you've pointed out that you like to oversimplify things, but this is kind of silly.
You're putting words in the mouths of the people who disagree with you by stating that our argument is that releasing things for free is going to solve piracy-- it's not, and no one thinks that, that's an impossible task and everyone concedes that. The point is that free distribution is proven to be effective across a number of mediums; just look at the shareware boom in PC gaming in the '90s, which was an entire industry built on giving things away for free in order to build interest. The argument here is whether free distribution models can increase interest in a product and whether they can push a portion of downloaders away from illegally obtaining that product. And given consumer psychology, as well as how past and current forms of this distribution have fared, the answer would seem to be yes-- people do in fact prefer to obtain things the legal way and free product can in fact garner interest. If even a hundred people move away from downloading something from the Pirate Bay to downloading from DC directly, that's at least two hundred more eyes on advertising, and the rest of what DC is pushing. And considering that places like Hulu continue to expand, it would seem that experiments in other mediums with this kind of distribution system are working and working well and are at the least drawing in advertising revenue that is at least somewhat sustainable.
You'd be surprised what people admit to when surveyed. Mind you, this is a Spanish survey, but 92% of teens and 70% of adults admitted to filesharing according to this recent survey.http://www.economist.com/node/21526299
As to the original argument, I find it humorous that the link that directed me to the SDCC Batgirl article was entitled "SDCC Batgirl defends illegal downloading" when it now appears that wasn't the point at all. I suppose if someone hadn't oversimplified things, I wouldn't have thought that behind SDCC Batgirl's argument wasn't a thinly veiled excuse for why she illegally downloads comics.
Regardless, the argument is still lacking. Hulu is known to be making little to no money. http://www.investorplace.com/2011/06/hu ... stock-ipo/
It's a broken model which only exists because companies can't come up with a better way to fight piracy. A Comics Hulu would follow the same course. Would it raise interest? Maybe. Would people want to pay for books that they could get for free? Largely no. I know plenty of people who dropped cable because they could get the bulk of their programming either through Hulu or downloading. Comics have been heading down that same path for a while.
From what I understand about Valve, it's successful in part because of the constant updating and perks that it offers that makes it impractical to pirate software. I'd be more inclined to take a business model like that seriously than a "Give it all away for free, that'll fix the problem mentality". It's a shortsighted business practice that's impractical on a large scale and almost impossible to make a profit on. Loss leaders fail as often as they work. It's a gamble to give away a product for free and hope that they come back for more and it's silly and naive to think that "it's so simple and will only help".