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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4283 Members Latest Member: - otto Most online today: 92 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
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Author Topic: Kazaa, Piracy & Your PDF game  (Read 6155 times)
Matt Gwinn
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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Posts: 547


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« on: March 03, 2003, 10:06:41 AM »

I was recently introduced to Kazaa Lite, which is a file sharing program similar to napster.  I've found that you can find nearly everything on there that is in a digital format, from porn to music to rpgs.  Every WOTC rpg book is available in PDF form as well as a swell of D20 modules.

My first thought was that some people have far too much time on their hads to scan and PDF hundreds and hundreds of pages of product.  then I started thinking about how easy it would be for someone to share an RPG that is already in PDF format.

I've always been concerned about people passing the Kayfabe PDF along to all their friends, but something like Kazaa puts a whole new spin on it because your game can be made available to anyone and be traded anonymously (as far as I can tell).

What are people's thoughts on this?  

Is allowing free copies of your indy game worth the extra exposure of one more person owning your game?

Is it worth stressing over?

Note:  I did do a search for a few indie games (Kayfabe, Sorcerer, Cartoon Action Hour) and they all came up with no hits.   Is it a good thing that we're not being ripped off, or is it a bad thing that there isn't enough interest in our games to make them available.

,Matt G.
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Jared A. Sorensen
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« Reply #1 on: March 03, 2003, 10:12:31 AM »

I'll repeat my file-sharing rant for the benefit of y'all.

It doesn't really matter.

So far, nobody is offering any of my for-sale PDFs on Kazaa. But if they did, I wouldn't be too concerned. My reasons:

1) Cost to produce 100 copies of a PDF is the same as it is to produce 1. So it's not like a book, where each one stolen cuts into your inventory (and thus your earnings per book goes down).

2) These people wouldn't buy your game in the first place. Now if they ARE into the game after downloading the pirated version, there's an excellent chance that they'll want to thank you with a few bucks (and that's how much PDFs cost so it all evens out).

3) Your game is popular enough to warrant piracy. Kinda cool. I mean, do a search of "Yodels" and a search on "Eminem" and see which pulls more hits, am I right fellas?
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jared a. sorensen / www.memento-mori.com
Valamir
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« Reply #2 on: March 03, 2003, 11:18:43 AM »

Actually Matt, I have been toying with the idea that making quick start rules available on Kazaa would be effective.  I think any game (like TROS or Sorceror) that has a pdf set of quickstart rules that is routinely made available for free would be well served by getting those rules into Kazaa circulation.  Free games like the Pool would probably also be good in this vehicle to enhance the exposure of the label.  For pay games like Kayfabe or Universalis that don't have a whole lot of rules to begin with might not be so well suited...not sure.
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Stuart DJ Purdie
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Posts: 69


« Reply #3 on: March 03, 2003, 11:42:02 AM »

Quote from: Valamir
I have been toying with the idea that making quick start rules available on Kazaa would be effective.


It's not easy.  I had some experience with the Gnutella network, and some indie band songs.  It's very difficult to find something unless it's on many hosts.  Initially, it will only be on one host.  And it's that initial spread that's tricky.

Also, people tend to look for specific things - there is no way to browse a file collection, meaning that there is no incentive to try.

The best solution we had was to put "sounds like: List of bands here" in the file name.  It basically didn't work.

If you did want to make it available, make sure that the word rpg is in the filename.  Also, make the name descripttive, but not too long (If the name gets changed by someone, then it's effectivly lacking duplication).
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Ryan Wynne
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« Reply #4 on: March 05, 2003, 02:01:43 PM »

I would like for everyone who has a copy of a game I design to pay for it.  

   As much as I love to design games and write (All money made from game design goes back into the company) if I found games I designed on Kazaa or a network like that I would be forced to stop releasing the games to the public.  If I could track the people and go after them I would as well.

  It's sad that I have to have this position but art, layout, publishing is expensive and I can't afford for thieves to be stealing my work.  Every sale I don't get is less money I have to put out a new game, not to mention it is disrespectful to the author to not compensate them.

   As for the "They stole it because they wouldn’t have bought it anyway" theory I don't buy it.  They downloaded it because they wanted it, and they MAY have paid for it but since they could get it for free they chose that route.
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talysman
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« Reply #5 on: March 05, 2003, 05:44:33 PM »

Quote from: Ryan Wynne
As for the "They stole it because they wouldn’t have bought it anyway" theory I don't buy it.  They downloaded it because they wanted it, and they MAY have paid for it but since they could get it for free they chose that route.


as a contrary argument, you can read the philosophical statement at the Baen Free Library:

http://www.baen.com/library/

I'm not saying that piracy is a Good Thing, or that you should take steps to make sure you sell as many games or books as possible... nor is Eric Flint, the guy who wrote the essay on the first page of the website and all the "newsletters" under the Prime Palaver link. he even expresses fundamental dislike of the morality of "book pirats" (people who copy and distribute books they don't own.)

however, he makes numerous good points about how the people who download those pirated copies are not necessarily bad... because those that can pay and would have payed will pay, and those that can't pay or won't pay will, at least, tell other people about the book -- and some of those other people will be people who can and will pay.

in his Palaver # 7, he lays out four categories of people who download pirate copies of books (or anything else.)

Quote from: Eric Flint in Prime Palaver #7

1. The first category are the only crooks involved. These are the types -- we've all met people like this -- who just get some kind of weird kick out of cheating. They basically steal for the sake of it, not because they're really forced to by any monetary concerns.



as he points out, these people are the real crooks, but also in many cases don't even read what they steal, nor would they have bought the product in the first place; they steal because they like to steal.

Quote from: Eric Flint in Prime Palaver #7

2. The second category are young people. Teenagers, basically, whose income is so low than even $4 or $5 is an obstacle for them.

[ ... ]

3. The third category are people who, though not young, suffer from basically the same kind of "disability" as teenagers. Only in their case, the disability is a medical one. The biggest category here is probably people who are blind or suffer severe vision problems. As a rule, though not always, these people are also living on a very tight budget.

[ ... ]

4. The final category are people who are "handicapped" in geographic terms. Basically, people who live in areas of the world or have occupations which (for a variety of possible reasons) make it essentially impossible for them to obtain a copy for sale. Either because their income is too low and/or the exchange rate is too steep, or shipping costs are astronomical, or -- simplest of all -- there are neither bookstores nor a reliable distribution network.



now, the specific case of PDF games is a little different from that of science fiction paperbacks that get convered into e-texts, but there's still some similarity. you are certainly going to have a teenager or other low-income person who comes across a pirate copy of your PDF and can't pay, at least not now; and, although games sold online only aren't exactly restricted by geography, you may have the case of someone without a credit card who is unable to purchase your game online, or someone who doesn't have an internet connection who gets a cd of pirated material mailed to them, or someone who just comes across your material on Kazaa without ever having heard of your website. all of these people will pay when they can, if they aren't part of category 1, and in the meantime help sell your game through word-of-mouth.

this isn't a defense of piracy, just a demonstration that it isn't the simplistic moral situation some people make it out to be.

so, what should you do about piracy?

 - if you find obvious piracy of your game, asked that the pirate copies be removed;
 - make sure your game has contact information in the text, for those who want to pay when they are able;
 -  don't sweat the rest.
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John Laviolette
(aka Talysman the Ur-Beatle)
rpg projects: http://www.globalsurrealism.com/rpg
Valamir
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Posts: 5574


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« Reply #6 on: March 05, 2003, 08:25:29 PM »

John I was about to post that very thing myself.  The fear of internet piracy robbing value from intellectual property is complete and utter bullshit.  Not once have the major music labels sat back and thought that the reason sales are down dramatically has less to do with piracy and everything to do with people being sick of the crap they keep putting out.  Some of the most down loaded music on Kazaa is obscure death metal you can't find in the local walmart CD rack.

"Microsoft is losing billions of dollars to Chinese software pirates".  Bullshit again.  Microsoft has over 40 billion in cash they don't even know what to do with so they started paying a dividend because they had no better use for it.  Ole Bill is the richest man alive...ever.  Yeah, piracy is just putting them in the poor house.

The movie industry said the same thing about VHS piracy ruining the movie biz.  Once they finally got a clue the now get more money from the video market then they do from the box office AND get to collect money on old film assets that hadn't seen box office in decades.  People copying video tapes and off HBO didn't cost them a cent.  The fear was all just more paranoid bullshit.

"Internet Piracy takes money out of my pocket" is an Urban Myth that should be discarded along side saying Candyman three times.  Utter unsupportable nonsense.
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Ryan Wynne
Guest
« Reply #7 on: March 05, 2003, 09:22:57 PM »

Quote from: talysman
however, he makes numerous good points about how the people who download those pirated copies are not necessarily bad... because those that can pay and would have payed will pay, and those that can't pay or won't pay will, at least, tell other people about the book -- and some of those other people will be people who can and will pay.


  I don't care.  If they didn't pay for it I don't want them to have a copy.  If they have a copy and I can track them down I am going to pursue it in court and cost them more then the copy of the game would cost them.


Quote from: talysman
so, what should you do about piracy?

 - if you find obvious piracy of your game, asked that the pirate copies be removed;
 - make sure your game has contact information in the text, for those who want to pay when they are able;

 -  don't sweat the rest.


  Sorry I don't agree with the above.

  If I can go after a person via legal means I will.  If I find my work pirated I will stop releasing it to the public.  It hurts the legal buyers of the games (which sucks) but it also hurts the pirates.

   Sorry, I wont just sit back and let people steal what I do.  If  they steal it then everyone loses access to my games.  Sorry, that's the way it has to be.
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Ryan Wynne
Guest
« Reply #8 on: March 05, 2003, 09:25:35 PM »

Quote from: Valamir


"Internet Piracy takes money out of my pocket" is an Urban Myth that should be discarded along side saying Candyman three times.  Utter unsupportable nonsense.


  This may be true for the RIAA and the MPAA, but for the small game companies piracy is taking money out of their pocket.  And with the margins in game publishing being so small the game companies can't afford it.
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yellow_skeleton
Registree

Posts: 3


« Reply #9 on: March 05, 2003, 09:50:09 PM »

I do think that some small independent RPGs could benefit from the free distribution offered by the internet.  Free Quick-Start rules could possibly gain the interest of people that would otherwise have been unaware of the product.

My first copy of the rules for Vampire: The Masquerade was "free," with my subscription to Shadis magazine.  Looking at my shelf, I have a dozen other White Wolf products.

Mage Knight (not an RPG, but the analogy is the same) offers the rules to their games for free over the internet.  They practically shove free figures into the hands of gamers at the conventions.  They have done very well with this marketing strategy.
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quozl
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Posts: 534


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« Reply #10 on: March 06, 2003, 05:44:15 AM »

Quote from: Ryan Wynne
Sorry, I wont just sit back and let people steal what I do.  If  they steal it then everyone loses access to my games.  Sorry, that's the way it has to be.


So if everybody doesn't play fair, then nobody can play at all?
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--- Jonathan N.
Currently playtesting Frankenstein's Monsters
Le Joueur
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Posts: 1367


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« Reply #11 on: March 06, 2003, 07:25:56 AM »

That's a bit uncalled for.

Listen, Ryan only just started his company; he's probably incredibly busy right now.  I think its far too early to make permanent policy judgements about things he probably knows too little about (marketing, competition, copyright, trademark, exposure).

It's also too early to give him such a hard time.

He's got his opinions; he's entitled to them.  They may be strong.  (What's wrong with passion at this point in his carreer?)  They'll probably rub some people the wrong way; the only way to learn how to give a good public 'face' is by falling on it a few times.  He obviously can't have figured everything out.

Let him learn on his own, because 'telling' him all this stuff is just turning into an argument.  He'll make his own decisions; and profit by them if they're good.

This is a learning process.

I'm looking forward to what Ryan has to say about all the 'three tier marketing' that Ron is always explaining.  It doesn't look like he's dealt with it yet.

For now, let's just let the 'I won't allow pirating' 'everybody else does' argument go down as a pair of opinions and agree to disagree.  There is nothing to 'prove' here.

Fang Langford
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Ron Edwards
Global Moderator
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« Reply #12 on: March 06, 2003, 07:27:20 AM »

Hi Ryan,

You've presented many views on publishing, property, and profit in the last few days.

Here's my question for you: are you interested in others' views, especially those based on many years of experience, or merely in repeating your own?

If it's the former, then how about acknowledging what others have said, especially if they make sense to you. Also, please consider asking a much more focused question that shows you've looked into things - for example, an instance of actual piracy that cost a small publisher money.

If it's the latter, then perhaps you should consider another website. This is a place for people to learn from one another, not merely to announce (a) and then defend it against all comers.

Best,
Ron
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Paganini
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Posts: 1049


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« Reply #13 on: March 06, 2003, 07:49:56 AM »

Hey everyone,

Before I say anything else, I want to make it clear that Valamir is exactly, provably correct. Urban Myth is a good way of putting it. This matter isn't really one for debate anymore. But I've noticed something that may explain why Ryan and everyone else seem to be talking past each other. Ryan is hung up on the idea of people "stealing" from him. The fact is, internet piracy is not theft. It's duplication. This is why it isn't financially harmful.

Here's a little bit deeper explanation. The definition of theft requires deprivation. One has to be able to point to something and say: "I had this, but now he has it and I don't!" Citing potential lost funds due to piracy is not valid. You never actually had those funds. It's all "might have... maybe... possibly."

One other thing to think about. Internet piracy is exactly analogous to a library. The publisher is payed for one copy of his work that many people benefit from. A library buys one book that may people read. A gamer buys one game that many people play. In neither case has the publisher been deprived of any actual stock.

Bottom line: If you wish to complain about piracy and call it theft, then you must also take a stand against public libraries, or lose all your credibility.
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Ryan Wynne
Guest
« Reply #14 on: March 06, 2003, 08:07:11 AM »

Quote from: quozl
Quote from: Ryan Wynne
Sorry, I wont just sit back and let people steal what I do.  If  they steal it then everyone loses access to my games.  Sorry, that's the way it has to be.


So if everybody doesn't play fair, then nobody can play at all?


  Exactly.  That is the way it has to be.  The best thing people can do is make sure the people they know are paying for the games they have.
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