Friday, April 10, 2009

Two Pirate Yarns

Our first tale of piracy comes to us from the Exurban League. These Arizona bloggers have posted the transcript of President Obama's response to the Maersk Alabama incident. File under "Political 'Teh Funny.'"

Good evening. As you know, early yesterday, Somali-based pirates attacked the Maersk Alabama, a freighter carrying relief supplies to Kenya. While we do not yet know all the details, the Alabama's crew re-took control of the vessel and forced the pirates off the ship.

Since the pirates are still holding the captain, I have sent FBI negotiators to facilitate his safe and speedy release. I assure his friends and family that I will not stop until this man-made disaster is resolved in a peaceful, tolerant and ecologically-sound manner.

Obviously, this incident has raised many concerns among Americans. There have been calls for justice and even violence against the misguided perpetrators. But such an emotional reaction has led to the disparagement of entire groups with which we are unfamiliar. We have seen this throughout history.

For too long, America has been too dismissive of the proud culture and invaluable contributions of the Pirate Community. Whether it is their pioneering work with prosthetics, husbandry of tropical birds or fanciful fashion sense, America owes a deep debt to Pirates.

( Read more ... )

Where's Woodes Rogers when ya need 'im?

Our second tale of piracy involves the digital kind. Namely, an attempt to eliminate illegal dissemination of D&D PDFs. In an exclusive interview with ENWorld, Wizards Brethren of The Coast President Greg Leeds addressed the company's recent decision to yank their PDF products from the shelves of Paizo and RPGNow. This removal of products comes a mere month after the company made the following statement in a 3/6/2009 press release:

In conjunction with the Retailer Rewards program, Wizards of the Coast will also release a new Internet Sales Policy on April 6. The new policy will have clear guidelines for online sales of Wizards’ product, and requires that retailers register with Wizards by signing an Authorized Internet Dealer Agreement.

But according to the Leeds interview, it's more like a No Internet Sales Policy.

We do not have any plans to resume the sale of PDFs, but are actively exploring other options for the digital distribution of our content – including older editions. We understand that digital content is important to our customers.

Barring access to those who sell and buy the stuff legally is like sending in a SEAL Team to take out Captain Richard Phillips instead of the Somali corsairs.

In response (or lack thereof) to concerns that WoTC is "punishing the customers who choose to legally acquire electronic Wizards products while not significantly affecting online book piracy," Leeds said:

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

I think The Eiglophian Press hit the nail on the head:

Basically this Leeds person failed to respond to the first part of the question altogether, which is tantamount to saying "We don't really give a shit if you bought our products electronically." I mean, am I wrong? 'Cus from where I'm sitting I don't see any sort of acknowledgment for the money I legally threw to WotC for PDF copies of OOP books. I guess my support doesn't matter and WotC doesn't value my business.

Fortunately, I don't rely on Leeds and his ilk to supply my gaming needs. I'd be willing to bet that while the rest of us were huddled around a table coated in graph paper, lead miniatures, pizza boxes, Doritos bags, and Mountain Dew cans, Leeds was attending frat parties and filling out his apps for MBA school. Sure, I forked out a few bones to WoTC to pay for my Gamma World PDF and the issue of The Dragon that had the China Mieville stuff in it. But, my gaming dollar has primarily gone to and will continue to go to the crew at Fight On! magazine. The heirs to the legacy of Arneson and Gygax aren't suits like Greg Leeds. They are people like Jeff Rients and James Maliszewski.

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