Sunday, October 18, 2009

Pirates: Beware Wizards of the Coast

The AP reports:

"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.

7 comments:

Chris said...

"The DMCA is not for your benefit proles! Those who steal our extruded gamelike product will be punished for that most heinous of all crimes; theft of imaginary money.
And remember, buy our stuff."
-- Hasbro/WOTC spokesman, yesterday

Sounds like an exemplary punishment pour discourage les autres. The "no pdf for you" clusterf**k grinds on.

Chris Creel said...

I plead the 5th.

The Rusty Battle Axe said...

Things like this cause me to be very careful about what I post on my own blog.

Timeshadows said...

Deletes all of those pirated Encounter Critical and Mazes & Minotaurs .pdfs of the old stuff from the '70's hardbacks and boxed-set days.

;)

Barking Alien said...

As I've said before, all this can easily be avoid by playing...SOMETHING ELSE.

Aside from free games, there are hundreds and hundreds of RPGs out there, many on PDF. D&D is not the best game (IMO), only the most famous and best marketed (until this recent PR fiasco). Show WotC how you feel the only way they'll truly understand. Go buy a non-WotC product.

The Rusty Battle Axe said...

I'm not a fan of WotC but I don't think they are the bad guys and girls here. Typically, in cases where a defendent loses an intellectual property rights case, the violations are clear and a aggregious and they usually have been warned by attorney-generated nasty-grams before someone files a lawsuit.

Don Snabulus said...

That does it! I am never playing Candy Land again. (unless there are small children who want me to)

Seriously though, why isn't Scribd like YouTube where all it takes is a takedown order to remove content? I bet there are salient details we are missing as RBA mentioned. Even so, I think my future gaming will stay in the open source realm.

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