One of the biggest problems that stems from the perception of piracy is individual’s knee jerk reactions that hurt no one more than themselves.
Wizards of the Coast pulled their D&D books from online format after finding they were being pirated. Currently there is no legitimate way to purchase ebook formats or PDFs of Dungeons and Dragons because WotC was frightened of losing money. Now those who want (or need!) D&D books electronically are being forced to pirate it – even if they don’t want to. There is a Compendium available, but it contains the rules and is website based, so there is no convenient way to get your D&D books – which, I might add, are fairly a bitch to tote around.
Harry Potter was just released on Pottermore after years of J.K. Rowling dragging her feet because she worried that they’d be pirated. The books have been on torrenting sites for years – and now they’ve finally released at $7.99 a book or $57.54 for the complete collection. That is extremely expensive for an ebook, especially when the paperback box set is $50.85 at Amazon.com.
Both WotC and J.K. Rowling have responded negatively to the idea of piracy and punished legitimate fans for it.
Fans that have been demanding, for years, that they respond to their desires and allow them to pay for their hard work and amazing product. In the process, the merchants have only hindered them, and punished them, and demanded that they, in return, purchase products in a manner that consumers don’t want to purchase through.
Currently J.K. Rowling is only allowing her ebooks to be purchased directly through her website – something that is not likely to change any time soon. This limits consumer’s ability to find and buy her product, even though Amazon & Barnes & Noble do have links to Pottermore. There will be some that decide that with the price barrier, and the distributor barrier, it is too much. They might decide not to purchase the goods, or perhaps they will pirate copies as a last ditch effort.
Responding to ‘piracy’ like this hurts legitimate consumers, and it hurts artists. It limits people’s exposure to new media, and it puts customer’s last.
I’m very pleased that J.K. Rowling finally allowed her books to come out in ebook format, and I have no doubt that she will make a lot of money off it. I have every faith that it will be a successful endeavour, and I only worry that if it’s not – will she blame herself? Or will she do like WotC and blame piracy, punishing her dedicated fans in the process?
There are many reasons why this would fail that have nothing to do with piracy. Fans might not be interested in paying $8 for an ebook of a novel released 5 years ago. Fans might not be interested in purchasing through Pottermore, as opposed to their usual retailers. Fans may not realize that the ebooks are available. Or some fans may have already pirated the books long before they were legitimately available.