Monday, November 30, 2015

Thoughts - Theft and Thievery

Thoughts - Theft and Thievery

Someone I had introduced to D&D a while back is planning on running their own game. I'm pretty ecstatic about that. I really enjoy introducing people to my favourite passtime and watching them grow, learn and tell their own stories. Often when introducing players, I have a digital copy of the player's hand book that I let them have in the beginning, because a 40 dollar buy into the game if you're not sure you will like it at all is difficult. I mean, people borrow and pass around the books all the time, but it's nice to just have a record of the book for yourself so you can peruse it and check. I often tell people though that I'm effectively just loaning them the book, don't share it further, and if you don't intend to play, you should delete it.

I've recently become aware that this person I've given that digital to, is running their session with their own players, and is printing from that digital copy for their players.

The newest edition is not open source, it's not free for distribution (I mean I really shouldn't even have that digital copy per se), and they certainly don't have any kind of printing licence for it.

So they're stealing it.

They're stealing the book, and distributing it. It's my favourite game and they're pirating it.

For a while I felt guilty, it was my fault, it is my fault. I shouldn't have distributed the digital to anyone I didn't think wouldn't fall in love with the game and purchase a hardcopy. (All of my players end up purchasing their own hardcopies of the books). I should not have trusted this player to have the same scruples that I do about piracy. I should have gauged better.

But they are also adults.

I'm trying to figure out if I'm responsible. They made the choice to do something that I think is wrong. I also coloured the lens for my own mental situation about what I think is right and wrong, to me I'm essentially lending the book out, but that's also not quite fair is it.

Where do we draw the line?

I've been thinking a lot about piracy and stealing for the past few years, especially as I've become a content creator and an artist. Often, when people directly contact me about using my work (especially writing, but sometimes art) I'm only too happy to volunteer it to be used for specific projects. I LOVE being asked. But I HATE when people just take.

Personally I've been involved in 5 lawsuits so far with my work. (Some aren't actually lawsuits, some are just notices of infringement)

Every time a new one comes up, it's time that it takes me away from making new art, or new content. It occupies headspace that is better used being creative. In short, it sucks.

So what do I do?

Am I responsible for this budding DM who has taken content and is now pirating it for their players? What does one even say? But I don't want to be silent about it, because for so many strangers, I'm very vocal about my opinion on it. Does personal contact mean people get a free pass? That doesn't seem right either.