Tuesday, April 7, 2009

A Letter to Wizards of the Coast


Dear WOTC,

Suspending the sale of all .pdf titles?

Dick move, guys. Dick move.

Let's just get one thing clear right now: it's 2009. Anything you publish, in any medium, is going to be pirated. As of today, April 7th, 2009, I can find a work print of the upcoming Wolverine film online. Today is a Tuesday, the usual new release day for books, CDs, DVDs, and videogames, and with the possible exception of some of the videogames, I bet it would take me all of five minutes on Google to find pirated copies of any of those items.

Frankly, I'm glad you took it to the pirates that stole your intellectual property. I hope it's a warning to those who would illicitly distribute your copyrighted material in the future. You see, I don't illegally download any of my entertainment. Haven't since college. And I think one could make a credible argument that the ease and frequency of pirated media has led, at least indirectly, to ten dollar movie tickets and twenty dollar CDs. I don't do it nor do I support it. But, as a realist, I know it exists and will continue to exist.

So, you potentially lost some sales from pirates. Big whoop. Theft is a part of the business. And did it stop the Player's Handbook 2 from making the New York Times best-seller list? No.

Digital Distribution is a new medium, I get that. But are you going to have Barnes and Noble stop selling your books because some of your titles were stolen, which I'm sure is an almost every day occurrence? No.

Crying "no fair!" and hurting Internet businesses like Paizo and RPGnow because of Internet piracy, an inevitable outcome of releasing a book, album, movie, or game in the 21st century, is not the way to conduct good business. Piracy of your material will only increase because of this, since people who run their games off of laptops (which you have heartily encouraged again and again with 4th edition D&D, by the way) have no choice now but to illegally download your books.

There's been more than one accusation on gaming forums that this is an excuse to muscle out third-party distributors of your product. That, in the following months, Wizards.com will begin selling digital versions of your books exclusively. This is, of course, at the moment, nothing but a rumor. But I can't stress how disappointed I would be to find out that this was true.

It's a brave new world out there, Wizards. And you have to be brave in it. I hope you rethink your decision to halt digital sales of your products.

Jeremy Wickett

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