"Two of eight people accused in lawsuits of illegally distributing Dungeons & Dragons handbooks over the Internet have settled, and the maker of the pioneering role-playing game is seeking a default judgment against a third.
In one of three lawsuits brought by Wizards of the Coast LLC, a subsidiary of Hasbro Inc., U.S. District Judge Thomas S. Zilly on Friday accepted a settlement in wh">In a settlement accepted by Zilly in July in a second Wizards lawsuit, Arthur Le of San Jose, Calif., agreed to pay $100,000 to the Hasbro Inc. subsidiary.
Wizards has asked the judge to order that Le's co-defendant, Mike Becker of Bartlesville, Okla., pay $30,000 in damages and $14,616.75 in legal fees and costs. Becker has not responded to the lawsuit and was found in default in July, court filings show." More.
That's a lot of money - and probably unrealistic to believe that those 2600 downloads each would have translated into a $40 hard copy sale equaling slightly over $100,000 in sales. Even with the correct price of $34.95, this is a PDF file we're talking about. This seems like a great business practice - don't offer download purchases of your products, just sue when they're downloaded. How long were the files up on scribd.com anyhow? It seems like there might have been better oversight considering the amount of downloads made - surely a flag could have been raised to at least check up on what was using that kind of bandwidth. Assuming conservatively it was a 10mb download that's 25gb of data if I did my math right. What are they, in cohoots with WotC, or just grossly negligent?
Maybe next we'll see RIAA-like tactics with peer to peer file sharing lawsuits. Except in the case of WoTC, it looks like their bottom line might actually be better served. I don't condone piracy, and I've wondered if, like the music industry, WoTC would be better off selling electronic versions of their products (or rather, going back to doing so). Considering these lawsuit amounts, maybe not!
Update: Just to add some more speculation, presumably (WotC's ex-Brand Manager) Scott Rouse's very recent departure from the company has nothing to do with this, but if I'd been in his position, based on the PR disaster the music biz suffered as a result of its lawsuits, it would definitely have encouraged me to leave if they're even considering going after individual downloaders.