No More PDF Downloading?

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So, this might be old news to some, but I just found out that Wizards of the Coast suspended all PDF files from being download from official online merchants. This, in my opinion, is just a stupid move. I understand that illegal downloading is running ramped- but punishing people who pay for official TSR/Wizards products via download is typical corporate neglect and unfair. Instead of people like me who obey the rules and legally download TSR/Wizards products by paying for them, we have to resort to illegally downloading the same files. Which isn’t that hard finding a torrent or P2P site to download, but why should I have to resort to illegally downloading something thats official and something I have money to pay for.

So, someone care to tell me how halting official downloads will stop the illegal downloading?
So, this might be old news to some, but I just found out that Wizards of the Coast suspended all PDF files from being download from official online merchants. This, in my opinion, is just a stupid move. I understand that illegal downloading is running ramped- but punishing people who pay for official TSR/Wizards products via download is typical corporate neglect and unfair. Instead of people like me who obey the rules and legally download TSR/Wizards products by paying for them, we have to resort to illegally downloading the same files. Which isn’t that hard finding a torrent or P2P site to download, but why should I have to resort to illegally downloading something thats official and something I have money to pay for.

So, someone care to tell me how halting official downloads will stop the illegal downloading?

FWIW - While PDF downloads are stopped, WotC is still looking into other methods of electronic distribution. There's no official word yet (that I know of as to what those will be).

Also - while it may not stop piracy (which is, indeed, impossible) - if it curbs it to any significant amount then they achieve their goal.
WolfStar76 Community Advocate (SVCL) for D&D Organized Play, Avalon Hill, and the DCI/WPN LFR Community Manager DDi Guide

Created by MyFitnessPal - Free Calorie Counter

This was a stupid move, you people can defend it for "curbing piracy" all you want, the bottom line is still the same, it cost me $46 because I was not notified that the pdfs I bought would no longer be offered, so I didn't download them before they were taken off the site. Congratulations, Wizards, you've lost at least this customer because of your garbage moves.
RPGnow is now allowing the downloading of any completed purchase again. They "over reacted" to the WoC stop order. You should check back again to see if you can download now.
This was a stupid move, you people can defend it for "curbing piracy" all you want, the bottom line is still the same, it cost me $46 because I was not notified that the pdfs I bought would no longer be offered, so I didn't download them before they were taken off the site. Congratulations, Wizards, you've lost at least this customer because of your garbage moves.

RPGnow is now allowing the downloading of any completed purchase again. They "over reacted" to the WoC stop order. You should check back again to see if you can download now.

This is correct. RPGNow chose to yank the PDFs immediately. WotC offered the sites a grace period to pull the files (as evidenced by Paizo leaving their PDfs up for something like 24 hours after giving notice).

Its my understanding that it was a misunderstanding on RPGNow's behalf that caused them to be pulled immediately - in fact, if I can find it I'll link to the site owner posting here and saying so.
WolfStar76 Community Advocate (SVCL) for D&D Organized Play, Avalon Hill, and the DCI/WPN LFR Community Manager DDi Guide

Created by MyFitnessPal - Free Calorie Counter

Its my understanding that it was a misunderstanding on RPGNow's behalf that caused them to be pulled immediately - in fact, if I can find it I'll link to the site owner posting here and saying so.

http://forums.gleemax.com/showthread.php?p=18284879#post18284879

From the post:
[indent]Wizards gave us legal notice to remove their titles. Due to what I'll characterize as a miscommunication on intent, we complied immediately and removed all public access to Wizards' products from DriveThruRPG and RPGNow. In turns out this was not a situation that either we or Wizards desired. I am in discussions with Wizards legal and it looks highly probable that we will be able to offer customers time to come back and re-download prior purchases for their personal archives. We will email and post information on sites once we have final confirmation on this.[/indent]
Mudbunny SVCL for DDI Before you post, think of the Monkeysphere
http://forums.gleemax.com/showthread.php?p=18284879#post18284879

From the post:
[indent]Wizards gave us legal notice to remove their titles. Due to what I'll characterize as a miscommunication on intent, we complied immediately and removed all public access to Wizards' products from DriveThruRPG and RPGNow. In turns out this was not a situation that either we or Wizards desired. I am in discussions with Wizards legal and it looks highly probable that we will be able to offer customers time to come back and re-download prior purchases for their personal archives. We will email and post information on sites once we have final confirmation on this.[/indent]

Thank ya, boss.
WolfStar76 Community Advocate (SVCL) for D&D Organized Play, Avalon Hill, and the DCI/WPN LFR Community Manager DDi Guide

Created by MyFitnessPal - Free Calorie Counter

So, someone care to tell me how halting official downloads will stop the illegal downloading?

It won't. That's the funny thing about making something illegal -- it doesn't actually stop anyone from doing it. Jaywalking, murder, and cheating on your taxes are all illegal. All of those things have been illegal for a long time. All of them still happen pretty regularly.
So instead of people distributing the pdf that they got from wizard's by purchasing them, they will now distribute scanned copies of the books? How is this going to help to fight piracy? People still have the books by downloading them. I've seen scanned copies of Arcane Power.
So instead of people distributing the pdf that they got from wizard's by purchasing them, they will now distribute scanned copies of the books? How is this going to help to fight piracy? People still have the books by downloading them. I've seen scanned copies of Arcane Power.

As both are illegal, why are you asking why WotC does not support breaking the law?
Plans are always subject to change.
My point is they might as well sell PDF versions of their books. Illegal copies will be out there whether they stop putting out PDFs or not.
My point is they might as well sell PDF versions of their books. Illegal copies will be out there whether they stop putting out PDFs or not.

Well indeed it could add to the income stream, it appears WotC can not implement a secure way to sell them. I have a hard time understanding why, however this appears to be the current status. *shrugs*
Plans are always subject to change.
I don't know how you could come up with a "secure" way to produce something like that. There's always a trick or a hack around anything. Sure, maybe there's somebody brighter than me who can do it, but why hasn't he done it already and made a pile of money selling it to the RIAA?
I'd like to chime in on this thread with the hope that WotC will come out with some policy soon. I have a desire to purchase some of their OOP products so they certainly could get some more money if brought back PDFs in some fashion.
An online store of their out of print books would make sense, though. It's not like they'll make money off of those any other way.
I'd like to chime in on this thread with the hope that WotC will come out with some policy soon.

They have a policy. The policy is that they don't care for your business.

Search whatever used book store sites there are and eventually you'll find what you are looking for there.

-James
An online store of their out of print books would make sense, though. It's not like they'll make money off of those any other way.

Or the books that they have already released in PDF format. I mean what's the point of pulling books from the digital stores if they are already supposedly being pirated in mass? The files are out their and people are pirating them so why not keep selling them? Chances are you'll get several honest people willing to pay for them.

And since you only support the older books and ones that were already previously released on PDF their is no risk since their already out on the net. After all that was the whole reason they stop selling the PDFs. Just cause the online stores take them down doesn't make a bit of different for all the pirate sites.
I think the title should really be 'No More Legal PDF Downloading?".

It seems to be taking 10 days or less for the pirates to put scanned and OCRed versions on the web. By not selling PDFs WoTC has delayed piracy a little but not stopped it.

Hands up those of you who think that WoTC will be able to find a digital format which will be palatable for the consumer whilst preventing piracy.

And if they can't what do they do, carry on as things are now or backtrack and start selling PDFs again? I think the only people who are being inconvenienced at the moment are those like me who want to buy the PDFs legally and the small number of individuals who are actually doing the scanning and OCRing.
This is ridiculous. You guys honestly don't understand why WotC doesn't want to aid and abet pirates? Yeah, it's clear that pirating is going to happen no matter what, but it makes perfect sense that Wizards doesn't want to actively HELP them. Saying that they should continue regardless is the same attitude a little kid has when he tells his mom that he shouldn't have to make his bed in the morning because he's going to sleep in it again later that night. Technically true but still enormously childish.

Wizards is a business. If they pulled the plug on legal .pdf downloads then I'm sure it was because the money they were making wasn't enough to justify the fact that they were helping people steal their product.

And if Wizards, again being a business, finds that their revenue loss from halting .pdf sales is hurting their bottom line more than piracy is, they'll reinstate it.

So don't be mad that Wizards took away your .pdf files. Be glad that they're not losing money and will be able to continue producing a product that you enjoy.
This is ridiculous. You guys honestly don't understand why WotC doesn't want to aid and abet pirates?

And by not selling PDFs they gain a whole 10 days if that.

The whole back catalogue is available in pirate form but you can no longer buy it legally - now that to me does not make any kind of sense at all. I want to buy old 2nd edition material but at present I can't.
This is ridiculous. You guys honestly don't understand why WotC doesn't want to aid and abet pirates? Yeah, it's clear that pirating is going to happen no matter what, but it makes perfect sense that Wizards doesn't want to actively HELP them. Saying that they should continue regardless is the same attitude a little kid has when he tells his mom that he shouldn't have to make his bed in the morning because he's going to sleep in it again later that night. Technically true but still enormously childish.

Wizards is a business. If they pulled the plug on legal .pdf downloads then I'm sure it was because the money they were making wasn't enough to justify the fact that they were helping people steal their product.

And if Wizards, again being a business, finds that their revenue loss from halting .pdf sales is hurting their bottom line more than piracy is, they'll reinstate it.

So don't be mad that Wizards took away your .pdf files. Be glad that they're not losing money and will be able to continue producing a product that you enjoy.

LOL!! Those are the same kinda of arguments people used for the music industry for YEARS on why they wouldn't go digital. Because "It made it too easy for people to pirate." But they finally wised up and we have sites like iTunes and others others where people buy legal copies of their favorite songs digitally.

And the point is they don't have to sell the NEW stuff in PDF. But simply continue to sell the old stuff in PDF because it's already out there so maintaining it doesn't affect the pirating at all except maybe decrease it. It's like Maccwar said the older stuff is already out there to be pirated you might as well selling it.

There is always going to be pirating. The key is to make it like the music industry has done where it's so easy to simply go out and buy the songs in a hassle free manner the people buy rather the pirate.

Even before the net music companies worried about people making cassette tapes of radio playings and giving them out were cutting into their profits. Well thanks to the net and the increase in copyright law they managed to get pass what they couldn't all those years ago. It's now illegal to make a mix tape for your significant other. And since copyright is a federal matter that makes it a federal crime.

But I digress. The point is inconviencing a few people who are real active in the pirate community to scan a book in and delaying the PDFs release by an extra week (all of which I pretty much said would happen in the original thread when no more PDF sales was announced) doesn't really inconvenience them one bit.

And once the file is out there in many ways it spreads like a disease. Going from one site to another showing up all over depending on it's popularity. Spreading the same way other things go "viral" on the net. Making it damn near impossible to track down and stop.
LOL!! Those are the same kinda of arguments people used for the music industry for YEARS on why they wouldn't go digital. Because "It made it too easy for people to pirate." But they finally wised up and we have sites like iTunes and others others where people buy legal copies of their favorite songs digitally.

LOL!! The difference is that where the music industry resisted online distribution for YEARS and finally relented, WotC has instead -been- offering online content and has apparently decided that in its current state it's not profitable enough to continue supporting. That was already evidenced by the fact that they were selling those .pdfs through a third party rather than dealing with it themselves.

Hopefully at some point in the future, WotC will find a way to make it worthwhile, but no amount of misguided entitlement about what we 'deserve' from WotC is going to really change that, and neither is shouting down WotC because they're "punishing" paying customers.

Ben and Jerry's isn't "punishing" you if they discontinue your favorite ice cream flavor and it's not corporate neglect if, say, Valve decided to stop putting out updates for Left4Dead after Left4Dead 2 comes out.

Like the man said - it's nothing personal; it's just business.

Hell, it's not even that I necessarily disagree with the notion that it would be cool for Wizards to continue putting out the old stuff on .pdf. It's the righteous indignation and the cries of "YOU'VE LOST ANOTHER CUSTOMER, BIG BAD WotC!" that really steam my wontons.
Ben and Jerry's isn't "punishing" you if they discontinue your favorite ice cream flavor and it's not corporate neglect if, say, Valve decided to stop putting out updates for Left4Dead after Left4Dead 2 comes out.

Like the man said - it's nothing personal; it's just business.

Hell, it's not even that I necessarily disagree with the notion that it would be cool for Wizards to continue putting out the old stuff on .pdf. It's the righteous indignation and the cries of "YOU'VE LOST ANOTHER CUSTOMER, BIG BAD WotC!" that really steam my wontons.

Ok...Ben and Jerry's isn't punishing you if they discontinue your favorite ice cream flavor...HOWEVER, they ARE PUNISHING you if they rip the ICE CREAM CONE you purchased LEGALLY out of your hand.

I have no problem with them deciding (idiotically so) to discontinue their old PDFs. I DO have a problem with them disallowing the download of a perfectly legal copy (NON PIRATED) of something that you already have purchased.

That is just plain wrong....no matter how you like your wontons.
:heehee
Ok...Ben and Jerry's isn't punishing you if they discontinue your favorite ice cream flavor...HOWEVER, they ARE PUNISHING you if they rip the ICE CREAM CONE you purchased LEGALLY out of your hand.

I have no problem with them deciding (idiotically so) to discontinue their old PDFs. I DO have a problem with them disallowing the download of a perfectly legal copy (NON PIRATED) of something that you already have purchased.

All I will throw into this is if you purchased a book and your house burns down with book in it, the company is not obligated to send you a free replacement book (If you have good insurance that company will pay to purchase a replacement book).

Replacement down loads because your HD crashed or you accidentally delete the PDF is not the fault of the company. There is no inherent right to a free replacement. The only difference between dead tree and efile is the cost of replacement to company is lower.

Further if I understand correctly, pazio did get clarification that permits them to replace missing files, not sure about the other company (was in drivethru RPG?). This has not been a major issue for me so I have not followed it closely.
Plans are always subject to change.
I prefer digital over paper.

I bought only PDFs of 4e books.

Im disgusted with the decision to end digital books.

(In fact, my computer broke, and I lost one of my books, FRPG, which I hadnt saved on disk. I expected to redownload it from DrivethruRPG.com, but now its unavailable. The company promised upto 3 redownloads, but WotC prevents it from honoring the promise.)

Now I cant buy any PDFs!

The heavyhanded sales and copyright tactics of WotC are a bodyblow to good feelings about WotC.

The shenanigans concerning the coercive autorenewal policy already disturbs me. I refuse to purchase D&Di until WotC removes it.

Someone needs to take the sales and legal departments of WotC and put them out of their misery - before they kill D&D 4e in the same way the heavyhanded sales-and-copyrights tactics of TSR killed D&D 2e.
(In fact, my computer broke, and I lost one of my books, FRPG, which I hadnt saved on disk. I expected to redownload it from DrivethruRPG.com, but now its unavailable. The company promised upto 3 redownloads, but WotC prevents it from honoring the promise.)

Well if WoTC marketing department is to be believed there are "free" copies of those previously sold PDFs all over the net. So you can get your replacement fairly easily. Assuming you don't mind the risk of viruses from ad banners or mis-labeled files I hear plague many sites. Oh and that pesky issue of it's technically illegal. Of course so was the company breaking the contract for you redownloads, You should sue ;).
WotC may have needed to do this for some kind of legal strategy, but its ultimately just not going to address the problem they tell us their going after. Piracy will continue. WotC will just give up its "some of a little" revenue and end up with "all of nothing".
I would like them very much to reconsider. I bought several books - especially adventures - in pdf, which I'd never had bought in dead tree version, just because it was easy to copy and paste statblocks, and sometimes even part of an adventure into my own adventure.

Since it is to much hassle to retype things from a book, I'll hold of buying a lot of stuff until it is once again digitally, if ever.
It really is inconvenient to lug around 500 lbs of books. That's one thing that's nice about the Compendium and character builder - unless you're looking for something more than just stats that is, it's all available digitally. Me, I'm easy. I preorder everything online to get it at super-cheap preorder prices. But not everyone does. And I will probably stop soon - the character generator includes all the books, and DDI content, in their erratad form, so buying even the physical books OR the pdfs is kind of redundant. For example, I won't be buying another X Power book because it all appears fully functional on DDI a week or two later.

I will say WotC has short memories - it was the early leaked PDFs of the 4e core books which fired up the masses to buy those books in the first place. Prior to that, people were very apathetic or even hostile to 4e after spending so much money on 3 and 3.5. The previews were neat, but the pdfs released a flood of publicity on news sites and on forums.

It's handy to have a pdf version and a solid book version. I like reading through an actual book better than reading a pdf, but the portability of a pdf just can't be beat. Most people don't just use the pdf itself, they use it to supplement the actual physical book. I've actually never met anyone who had the core books on pdf but hadn't physically purchased them as well.

As pointed out, it doesn't really matter if WotC makes the pdfs available or not, they will be available anyway. WotC just won't be making any money off them. Or off the sales they might otherwise have generated - as those original core book pdfs did. Their excerpts fill a similar roll, offering preview pages, and those are correctly seen as enticements. Somewhere there's a disconnect here.

I'd be willing to bet that in addition to complete disappearance of pdf sales, the physical sale of books has taken a hit as well. Or, at least, they haven't sold any more books than they otherwise would have. This equals lost sales, because their only source of income becomes the physical product their former pdf buyers didn't want in the first place.
This is ridiculous. You guys honestly don't understand why WotC doesn't want to aid and abet pirates? Yeah, it's clear that pirating is going to happen no matter what, but it makes perfect sense that Wizards doesn't want to actively HELP them. Saying that they should continue regardless is the same attitude a little kid has when he tells his mom that he shouldn't have to make his bed in the morning because he's going to sleep in it again later that night. Technically true but still enormously childish.

Wizards is a business. If they pulled the plug on legal .pdf downloads then I'm sure it was because the money they were making wasn't enough to justify the fact that they were helping people steal their product.

And if Wizards, again being a business, finds that their revenue loss from halting .pdf sales is hurting their bottom line more than piracy is, they'll reinstate it.

So don't be mad that Wizards took away your .pdf files. Be glad that they're not losing money and will be able to continue producing a product that you enjoy.

Bootlegging does not cost a company money compared to the loss they suffer when they don't offer the product in the format the consumer wants.

People who are bootlegging are bootlegging regardless, they were never a potential customer to begin with, i.e. they do not cost Wizards any money since there is no lost sale. The person who wants to buy the .PDF but can't and subsequently changes their montly game to another franchise from another publisher is a lost sale and will therefore in effect cost Wizards money.

What publishers has to come to terms with is that everything is available on the internet regardless of what they do. Employees at movie studios take out screen versions and place them on the internet, editors at various publishing houses do the same. The time of scanning books and using OCR software is long over. The final product being sent to the printing company is also in a digital format that can be converted and released illegally on the internet. It is anonymous and it's very hard to trace the origin.

There are a lot of people who are buying .PDFs every day because making your product available means that the customers loyal to you and who are appreciating your product will BUY them in order to ensure that there will be more products. Only if the option to BUY is somehow prevented might they consider looking for bootlegged copies.

Two very simple principles:

1) If you deny sale you deny income.
2) If you deny sale you DO NOT deny bootlegging but you will encourage it and create an increased demand for it while at the same time loose customer loyalty and respect.

I have more than 100 watermarked legally bought PDFs for the various games I play as well as several non-fiction books. And they all reside in my tablet PCs which weighs half that of the three core books.

Final point to ponder: The cost of creating the PDFs are negligible and there are no printing costs associated with the product. By going away from offering .PDFs for sale, you also go away from the most lucrative form of distribution that takes no time to produce once done once, doesn't take up storage space, are never sold out from vendors, and has no cost associated with their production. Plus they service a customer segment that would never buy a physical book as a replacement.
That's all well and good, but everyone in this thread is making assumptions about WotC's profit margins and income. For all we know, the income from .pdf sales was less than whatever they had to pay some dude to keep track of sales and communicate with the various third-party Web sites that were selling them.

You've got three options here. Either you think WotC is twirling its mustache and laughing evilly as it ties the .pdf download maiden to the train tracks, either you think WotC is run by a bunch of retards who know less than you do about the effect piracy is having on WotC itself, or you think that maybe WotC is acting in its best interests and is testing the waters to see what the effects of halting .pdf downloads are and whether they're good for the company in the short and long run.

I know that many people on these boards prefer to think the worst of WotC because it's fun and chic to bash evil, money-grubbing corporations, but since I love 4e and would prefer to see it continue, I'd also prefer to assume that WotC's marketing department knows more than the collective wisdom of a dozen internet-armchair Alan Greenspans and is doing what is best for their company.
That's all well and good, but everyone in this thread is making assumptions about WotC's profit margins and income. For all we know, the income from .pdf sales was less than whatever they had to pay some dude to keep track of sales and communicate with the various third-party Web sites that were selling them.

You've got three options here. Either you think WotC is twirling its mustache and laughing evilly as it ties the .pdf download maiden to the train tracks, either you think WotC is run by a bunch of retards who know less than you do about the effect piracy is having on WotC itself, or you think that maybe WotC is acting in its best interests and is testing the waters to see what the effects of halting .pdf downloads are and whether they're good for the company in the short and long run.

I know that many people on these boards prefer to think the worst of WotC because it's fun and chic to bash evil, money-grubbing corporations, but since I love 4e and would prefer to see it continue, I'd also prefer to assume that WotC's marketing department knows more than the collective wisdom of a dozen internet-armchair Alan Greenspans and is doing what is best for their company.

I don't think there is anything weird, sinister or mystical going on. I think it's the same conservative narrow-mindedness that has lost the music industry all credit over the last ten years that has hit Wizards as well.

The problem is that the larger the company the more generic decisions will be taken and the less in touch with the real world will they become. Decision-making is taking legal considerations and IP considerations over market considerations because from a managerial position, the market starts to look more and more like a nuisance to efficient budget planning. It's partly irony ofcourse but it is surprising how accurate it also is.

To get a small inkling of how many .PDFs they were actually selling, you could see that all their .PDFs were Gold or higher sellers on the digital distribution vendor sites. DriveThruRPG alone sold more than 50,000 Player's Handbook in the first month. That's revenue with no cost of transportation, packaging, distribution, printing, storage, handling or anything.
What publishers has to come to terms with is that everything is available on the internet regardless of what they do. Employees at movie studios take out screen versions and place them on the internet, editors at various publishing houses do the same. The time of scanning books and using OCR software is long over. The final product being sent to the printing company is also in a digital format that can be converted and released illegally on the internet.It is anonymous and it's very hard to trace the origin.

I agree with most of what you say on the topic. But I don't agree with fact companies can't stop internal leaks. While it's often true you can't prevent people from doing things you can still fire them if they leak the product since they work for you. And they can file charges of theft since they stole company secrets regardless of if they profited on it or not. Stealing company files and records is still a crime even though no physical objects were taken as it's considered an act of espionage.

It can actually be very easy to prevent it as is evident by the decrease in pre-release copies of things. You can encode digital content with encryption so that only persons accessing it from curtain places can use it.

The more common thing however is placing a digital watermark into the file which is different for each testing department, user, or press studio you release the digital product to. This way if it's leaked that watermark will be copied along with it so the company simply looks at it from the file being distributed and they narrow down their search greatly.

This is how most companies figure out who leaked the product and in some cases you hear of law suits. If it were truly as anonymous as you claim they wouldn't be able to track down who leaked it and you won't hear about those law suits. Even though many companies probably don't do this the potential that they could and of course wouldn't tell their employees leads most would be insider pirates to reconsider.

As for pirates who are in no way connected to the company yes they are pretty much anonymous. They take final releases of the digital items and distribute them, or in the case of scans, they scan them in and distribute them. This makes it nearly impossible to track down the original source once it spreads across the net. Mainly because it's virtually useless to watermark final releases but also those who make their own scans are not likely to mark them.

I say nearly impossible because it all depends on what the person does since some leaves trails that lead back to them. Just like how they track down those who unleashed a massive virus onto the net. It's been a while since I've heard of any of those cases. Probably because those people original thought it was totally anonymous and no one could track them down. While it is possible to do stuff truly anonymous on the net most people don't because they are not aware of all the ways they can be tracked or "evidence" they leave behind.

Your IP address alone can lead police straight to your house even if you have a dynamic one that changes every time you login into the net. Because your ISP keeps records on which customer is using that IP at any given time. It's how they catch all the digital predators.

But back to the topic at hand. Piracy is a lot like illegal drugs. Even though they have been around much longer they still can't stop their distribution. And going after individual users doesn't solve the problem. So instead they go after the dealers and cartels. In this case it would be the torrent sites just like they did with pirate bay.

The problem though is just like with illegal drugs you take out one supplier and the next day 2 more show up to take it's place. And the reason more show up to take it's place than the number you take down is because the huge shortage in supply leads to several comparators jumping in to try and take the new open top spot so they compete heavily.

And competition is a great driving force for improvement and simple laws of Supply & Demand dictate when there is a shortage their is greater profit to be had. Some torrents sites actually charge subscription fees but many don't so you may wonder what "profit" there is to be had. Well not everyone is motivated by money. Some simply seek the admiration and praise of others. This is especially common driving force on the net for various online socials groups, it's like becoming a celebrity.
It can actually be very easy to prevent it as is evident by the decrease in pre-release copies of things. You can encode digital content with encryption so that only persons accessing it from curtain places can use it.

According to the buzz on the newsgroups, 'Player's Handbook 2' was available for download before official release date. That might be boasting though so I don't know.

All the .PDFs I have bought have had a watermark added to them with my order transaction number and my name on all pages (bottom left, outside of any text ofcourse). I am quite sure that people who distribute bootlegged .PDFs simply remove those, likewise, any digital restriction, lock or ID tagged to any digital format can be circumvented, removed, and/or cracked. I would be very surprised if any bootlegged copies originating either from Wizards staff internally or printing staff would have any trace of such countermeasures left in them.

Likewise, I have not been able to find a single court case leading to any conviction of a worker for distributing unreleased material in a digital format. I found a case from Britain where an employee at a publishing house was given a compensation for unlawful grounds for being fired since the company could not prove he had actually done what they charged him for. I could find some newspaper articles mentioning this practice (distribution of unreleased material by employees) as a problem and companies making blanket statements about their intentions to prosecute but no actual cases. They seem to be more propaganda than fact, a form of scare tactics it would seem.

Digital distribution is here to stay. The question is whether companies creating the material wants to profit on that trend and get paid for their products or they want to rigorously deny the realities of the internet. Personally I think the second is a lost cause.
This is ridiculous. You guys honestly don't understand why WotC doesn't want to aid and abet pirates? Yeah, it's clear that pirating is going to happen no matter what, but it makes perfect sense that Wizards doesn't want to actively HELP them.

Sure but they might want to help their loyal customers, rather than turn them into criminals. Priced right people prefer legal copies of files without copy protection than being force to download illegal copies of the same. This is what the music industry has learned removing DRM from it's digital downloads has boosted the legal sales music far more than their attempts to bring illegal downloaders to court.

So don't be mad that Wizards took away your .pdf files. Be glad that they're not losing money and will be able to continue producing a product that you enjoy.

But they definitely losing money with this move. They have lost the revenue from legal .pdf sales (no matter how small it is) and have not prevented the illegal sales in any way. So the people that were illegally downloading before still are and now the people that were legally downloading before aren't or are doing it illegally.
I'd also prefer to assume that WotC's marketing department knows more than the collective wisdom of a dozen internet-armchair Alan Greenspans and is doing what is best for their company.

How about the collective wisdom of a bunch of other game producers? There are some respectable names in gaming that operate on significantly smaller budgets than WotC that produce a lot of support pdfs or even their entire catalog on pdf.

And I'm not talking about 3rd party guys working out of their basements. DOJ/HERO Games (Champions, HERO System) has pretty much their entire catalog available on pdf. Steve Jackson Games (GURPS) does as well and even run their own online store for pdfs. White Wolf (anything angst-ridden) has a pretty sizable presence as well. These might be "big" game companies, but lets be clear -- there's WotC and there's everybody else as far as the money goes.

These smaller guys have a lot more at stake if pdfs screw them out of money. They're all selling their entire product lines in pdf.

I'm going back to my armchair.
The smaller guys also have to accept situations where profit margins are smaller, whereas WotC has the luxury of not necessarily putting itself into a position it doesn't like. That's one of the benefits of being the most successful guy in the business.

Look, the point I've been trying to make this whole time is that at the end of the day we don't actually know anything about WotC's internal numbers, its profit margins, or what its marketing and sales department's statistics say about .pdf sales. But WotC is still at the top of the heap when it comes to RPGs, so I think it's safe to assume that they know what they're doing. Stop taking every move they make as corporate greed/stupidity, because shouting down the sky on the forums isn't really going to change anybody's mind about anything.

My personal opinion, as I've already said in this very thread, is that WotC is testing the waters to see what their sales figures look like after pulling .pdf sales. If there's a sizable dip in income I'm sure they'll go back to it, or maybe even put up their own online store instead of selling through third parties. But you can be 100% sure that what they're NOT doing is blithely ignoring the effect that the lack of .pdf sales is having on their bottom line. The company isn't run by idiots (as much as a lot of people on these forums, I think, would love to believe).
The smaller guys also have to accept situations where profit margins are smaller, whereas WotC has the luxury of not necessarily putting itself into a position it doesn't like. That's one of the benefits of being the most successful guy in the business.

On Steve Jackson Games releasing GURPS 4e on pdf:

http://www.sjgames.com/ill/archives.html?y=2006&m=February&d=11

"We were concerned, as were many retailers, that PDF sales would reduce the number of print sales. After observing the market, we have concluded that, in general, the sales of a PDF version of a product do not affect the sales of the print version. Therefore, we can satisfy the growing number of PDF-using customers without harming the retailers who have supported us for so long."

Look, the point I've been trying to make this whole time is that at the end of the day we don't actually know anything about WotC's internal numbers, its profit margins, or what its marketing and sales department's statistics say about .pdf sales. But WotC is still at the top of the heap when it comes to RPGs, so I think it's safe to assume that they know what they're doing. Stop taking every move they make as corporate greed/stupidity, because shouting down the sky on the forums isn't really going to change anybody's mind about anything.

This isn't about demonizing WotC as some giant, evil corporation. WotC is a business that produces very good products and employs some very nice people. They're also a business that doesn't seem to do well with marketing and communicating with their customers right now.

If you look at the reasons they gave for stopping the pdf sales in the interview on ENworld, they were crap. I'm sorry, but they were. In all likelyhood, this is a necessary action for whatever legal action they're pursuing against the guys they're suing for pirating PHB2. I understand that, even if I don't like it. But to say this was to protect the retailers and the community is a complete dodge.

And for what its worth, I'll bet everyone thought TSR knew what they were doing in the late 90's, too.

My personal opinion, as I've already said in this very thread, is that WotC is testing the waters to see what their sales figures look like after pulling .pdf sales. If there's a sizable dip in income I'm sure they'll go back to it, or maybe even put up their own online store instead of selling through third parties. But you can be 100% sure that what they're NOT doing is blithely ignoring the effect that the lack of .pdf sales is having on their bottom line. The company isn't run by idiots (as much as a lot of people on these forums, I think, would love to believe).

I'd be just fine with bringing things in-house or becoming part of DDI. They should just come out and say so. As far as 4e is concerned, their mismanagement of PR is probably a much bigger problem for their bottom line than piracy. This is a community based business they're in.

When you make a controversial decision and just let it hang there with no explanation, you're failing the community. That doesn't mean they're evil. That doesn't mean they're stupid. That means they're making some bad decisions.
When you make a controversial decision and just let it hang there with no explanation, you're failing the community. That doesn't mean they're evil. That doesn't mean they're stupid. That means they're making some bad decisions.

Just to be clear - they gave an explanation.

It was their analysis that they were making it too easy for people to pirate their products, so they chose to halt PDF distribution in an attempt to curb piracy.

Now, one may choose to accept that explanation or not - and we're certainly free to debate it (I both see how foolhardy it is AND how I would have done the same thing in their shoes). I would advise we be careful, however, about creating the impression that PDFs just disappeared one day and nobody from WotC commented on the issue.
WolfStar76 Community Advocate (SVCL) for D&D Organized Play, Avalon Hill, and the DCI/WPN LFR Community Manager DDi Guide

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Just to be clear - they gave an explanation.

It was their analysis that they were making it too easy for people to pirate their products, so they chose to halt PDF distribution in an attempt to curb piracy.

Now, one may choose to accept that explanation or not - and we're certainly free to debate it (I both see how foolhardy it is AND how I would have done the same thing in their shoes). I would advise we be careful, however, about creating the impression that PDFs just disappeared one day and nobody from WotC commented on the issue.

And I should clarify.

WotC did make a public statement / press release. WotC President Greg Leeds also did a short interview on ENworld. Unfortunately, Mr. Leeds' own words tell me the official explanations are having a tough time holding water.

For example:

While we understand that our actions will not eliminate piracy all together, we don’t want to make it easy to acquire illegally, either.

All that has happened is that it takes a couple more days for a pdf to show up on these sites. The only dent they could possibly have made is to avoid a situation where pirated pdfs show up before the print books even arrive at the store, as happened with the core books on release. Whoever is/was in charge of pdf sales had to have told them this.

We need to have a strong retail base in order to support (and grow) the hobby industry. We hope to deter future offenders – or at least slow down their path to obtaining illegal products.

If they genuinely wanted to support hobby stores, they wouldn't sell to amazon.com or walmart.com. I have a hard time believing online discount sales haven't hurt mom-and-pop game stores a lot more than pirated pdfs. By Leeds own admission, the piracy will continue. This will have no real effect on the FLGS.

So, yes, an explanation was issued and I chose my words as poorly as the official explainers did. ;)
So, yes, an explanation was issued and I chose my words as poorly as the official explainers did. ;)

*nods* Fair enough (on both counts, FYI - amazon.com is a particular thorn in my FLGS's side).
WolfStar76 Community Advocate (SVCL) for D&D Organized Play, Avalon Hill, and the DCI/WPN LFR Community Manager DDi Guide

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