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Oatmeal, McGuire, and Entitlement

I like The Oatmeal, and I’ve seen a lot of people pointing to this comic, often with a comment like, “This is why people pirate!”

I see two things in this comic. The first is an excellent point: people want to be able to buy and download things when they come out. More and more people watch and read things online, and it’s incredibly frustrating when that option isn’t available. In this example, I think HBO is probably making a mistake by not selling Game of Thrones to people who want to watch it.

The second thing in this comic, however, feels like pure entitlement. HBO has made a business decision to only offer the show for download to HBO subscribers. I think that’s a bad business decision, but does the fact that the show is not available RIGHT THIS SECOND mean people have the right to say, “Oh well, I tried. Time to go swipe it off a torrent site!”

My next book is going to be released as a hardcover, which means it will cost about $25. I totally understand that not everyone will want to pay $25 for a book, and I’m happy that a year later, you should be able to buy it for $8 as a paperback. But if you want a copy of that book for $8, you have to wait. You don’t get to say, “I want it now!” and just swipe it off a bookstore shelf.

DRM is annoying. Businesses that don’t make their products available to users who want to buy them is frustrating as hell. But the entitlement thing is a problem too.

Case in point: Seanan McGuire’s latest book went on sale early at Amazon … in print format. The e-book edition won’t be available until the on-sale date. As a result, readers and so-called fans have been heaping abuse on her because … well, because they might have to wait a whole two weeks to buy the e-book:

People who have to wait for their electronic books are not being denied anything; they’re doing what was supposed to happen in the first place. This has not stopped the exciting emails from rolling in. They mostly stopped after the first day, but on that first day, I was called…

…a bitch.
…a whore.
…a cunt.

Because that sense of entitlement, the idea that I WANT IT RIGHT NOW!!!, is so powerful that these people felt justified in attacking and threatening the author, then running out to pirate all of her books. The author who, incidentally, has no control over this situation!

Naturally, since Seanan is female, the abuse is even harsher and significantly sexualized. Because women, like books and TV shows, are possessions, right? And we’re entitled to say or do whatever we like to them.

What the f*** is wrong with people?

I get being frustrated when you really want to watch/read something and you can’t. It frustrates the hell out of me when publishers limit availability or cripple a file’s usability. And I know perfectly well that people will choose to pirate files when they can’t easily buy them.

But for God’s sake, get a spine and own that choice. Don’t pretend the evil publisher made you do it. Take responsibility for the fact that you couldn’t bother to wait two weeks for Seanan’s book to be available legally, or that you didn’t want to subscribe to HBO and didn’t want to wait for them to make the show available through other outlets.

I don’t really get worked up about piracy these days. I have more important (to me) things to care about. And I get that it’s a more complicated issue than a lot of people want to admit.

But the entitlement thing pisses me off, especially when that attitude leads to such vicious attacks on my friends.

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.


( 112 comments — Leave a comment )
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Feb. 23rd, 2012 09:04 pm (UTC)
I will admit that a time or two I have pirated a copy of something that is not yet available to buy. However, in those cases I consider it to be a moral imperative to buy it legitimately as soon as it becomes available.
Feb. 23rd, 2012 09:08 pm (UTC)
I know few people who haven't, at least once. (Not saying it's right; just saying that it's common.)

I guess my main point is that it's your choice to make, and I'm sick of people pretending anyone's forcing them to make that choice, or -- as with Seanan -- actively attacking and abusing them for not giving them everything they want right this second, if that makes sense?

It's one thing to say, "Hey Company, I hate DRM, so I'm not gonna buy any of your products until you get rid of it!" It's another to say, "If I can't have this RIGHT NOW, I'll threaten to beat and rape you!"

Still angry, so I suspect I'm probably not being quite as clear or articulate as usual...
(no subject) - megabitch - Feb. 24th, 2012 04:42 pm (UTC) - Expand
Feb. 23rd, 2012 09:05 pm (UTC)
>I think HBO is probably making a mistake by not selling Game of Thrones to people who want to watch it.<

Except that HBO is sellling it to people who want to watch it. It comes out on DVD and Blu-Ray on March 6th.

But yeah, totally agree with you on the entitlement issue.
Feb. 23rd, 2012 09:09 pm (UTC)
I hadn't realized that. Sigh... that would then feed back into my frustration with, "You can't wait a few piddly weeks???"
(Deleted comment)
(no subject) - brendanpodger - Feb. 23rd, 2012 11:13 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - feanna - Mar. 7th, 2012 06:45 pm (UTC) - Expand
Feb. 23rd, 2012 09:07 pm (UTC)
I happen to agree completely about that Oatmeal comic, and have said so in public forums, where I'm roundly informed I'm wrong because you could die tomorrow and then what? You'd never get to see that TV show/movie at all!

Also, everyone said they buy it later when it does eventually come out, which I suspect is bullshit.
Feb. 23rd, 2012 09:11 pm (UTC)
So you could die tomorrow, and the thing you're worried about is watching a freaking TV show? In that case, I think your problems go a lot deeper than piracy...
(no subject) - nick_kaufmann - Feb. 23rd, 2012 09:12 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - barbarienne - Feb. 23rd, 2012 09:28 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - serialbabbler - Feb. 23rd, 2012 10:57 pm (UTC) - Expand
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- akiko - Feb. 24th, 2012 04:33 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - rowyn - Feb. 25th, 2012 05:46 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - coaldustcanary - Feb. 23rd, 2012 10:54 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - nonnycat - Feb. 24th, 2012 12:05 am (UTC) - Expand
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(no subject) - themadfish - Feb. 24th, 2012 08:01 am (UTC) - Expand
Feb. 23rd, 2012 09:17 pm (UTC)
Un-effing-believable. And to do that to Seanan! Who really is one of the sweetest, gentlest people I'm fortunate enough to know.
Feb. 23rd, 2012 09:23 pm (UTC)
I can't wrap my brain around it. How do you get past the age of TWO and still think it's in any way acceptable to treat someone like that?
(no subject) - mrs_norris_mous - Feb. 23rd, 2012 11:06 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jimhines - Feb. 23rd, 2012 11:26 pm (UTC) - Expand
Feb. 23rd, 2012 09:22 pm (UTC)
The problem is that more and more people are growing (if they haven't already) to believe that they should get what they want, when they want. And when they don't they can turn into some pretty nasty 3-year old versions of themselves - they throw tantrums at their perceived tormentor and don't stop to think about how disgusting their behaviour is. Abusing someone simply because you may have to show a little patience for once or for things beyond their control is completely unacceptable. People need to grow up and learn the world does not revolve around them.
Feb. 23rd, 2012 09:23 pm (UTC)
Sobbing and stress vomiting is fun, right?

Feb. 23rd, 2012 09:24 pm (UTC)
Totally! For my next birthday party, I'm planning to go to Vomit World. It's an awesome place (but I advise skipping the water slides).

::Hugs and Velociraptor-riding Goblins::
(no subject) - atdt1991 - Feb. 23rd, 2012 11:28 pm (UTC) - Expand
Feb. 23rd, 2012 09:27 pm (UTC)
Seanan's situation is so horrible. With everything on the internet it seems like people should understand how little control authors have over these sorts of things, but time and time again, it's proved that they don't.

I'm glad you mentioned The Oatmeal comic, too, because when I saw that earlier this week, my very first thought was "No, you do NOT get to pirate things just because you Want It Now and you Can't Have It."

Maybe it's because I'm old enough to remember when you couldn't even buy movies on VHS at consumer prices - video stores paid $70-100 for movies (In 1980's dollars) and you just didn't get to own things like that unless you had a VCR and taped it yourself. If you liked a TV show, you hoped your favorite episodes would get rerun, you didn't get to buy a whole season and own it forever.

But now that those things are commonplace, people suddenly think they're entitled to it even if it's not available to them, and it frustrates me. We've turned into this "I should have ALL THE MEDIA" and well, sometimes you don't. If you don't like how a company is doing something (and I agree that HBO's move is kinda stupid) then complain about it, let them know how you feel. But it's NOT a license to steal it.
Feb. 24th, 2012 08:54 pm (UTC)
Yes, I began to do the dance of happiness when shows from my childhood and teenage years started showing up on DVD. Most of those old VHS tapes have gotten eaten by machines over the years.
Feb. 23rd, 2012 09:27 pm (UTC)
There is no excuse for the kind of entitlement behaviour that leads to mobbing, bullying and the sending of abusive mails. Full stop.
Feb. 23rd, 2012 11:01 pm (UTC)
I love when someone can summarize my anger into a one-sentence punch like this :-)
(no subject) - la_marquise_de_ - Feb. 24th, 2012 10:37 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - miintikwa - Feb. 24th, 2012 12:28 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - la_marquise_de_ - Feb. 24th, 2012 10:39 am (UTC) - Expand
Princess R [dreamwidth.org]
Feb. 23rd, 2012 09:27 pm (UTC)
A) What's happening to Seanan is gross. Seriously. I am so exhausted with the internet enabling the spewing of mysogynist, gross, entitled bile-flavored garbage.

B) I generally own it if I've downloaded something, whether or not I pay for it later. What irritates me is people who get all "I would never do that...except for this thing that was more than I wanted to pay for, but that's just a one time thing." Like...no. Gross.

(Also, as I said on my G+ share... The truth of this is that the first media company that realizes we want it, and we want it right now, and gives it to us easily and without being cost-prohibitive? They'll make a mint. But that's their business model to find, not ours to demand.)
Feb. 25th, 2012 04:16 pm (UTC)
And I do hope that more publishers get on board with that kind of model. Baen, for a while, was bundling a CD of e-books with their new releases. I'd love to be a part of something like that. Buy Libriomancer and get a free e-book of the first goblin book or something, I don't know...

It's still evolving, and I expect publishing will get things sorted out eventually. I also suspect it's going to be rather bumpy and frustrating at times while we try to get there.
Feb. 23rd, 2012 09:30 pm (UTC)
This is unfortunately germane to a related issue on how people acted towards Jennifer Hepler, the BioWare employee who got attacked because of some things she said which got taken out of proportion. And other reasons. Oh and because she's a woman. All of the nastiness towards her ended up having the same element of gross misogyny and I found myself slowly backing away from the computer upon reading some of the attacks she got. The entitlement was there too, which is sort of an unfortunate thing you run into a lot when you are a gamer. :/
Feb. 23rd, 2012 11:03 pm (UTC)
Ugh. I'm aware of that situation, but I haven't read the actual details yet. (And probably won't get to tonight, because I'm rushing off shortly for my daughter's recital at school.)

The sexual nastiness you run into online is utterly inexcusable.
Feb. 23rd, 2012 09:36 pm (UTC)
I didn't mind the Oatmeal comic because I viewed it more as descriptive, not prescriptive; as reportage of what people actually do (whether their actions are right or wrong).

As for the crap piling on Seanan, that is obviously unspeakable. Unfortunately, it happens so gorram often these days, and over such trivial things, that I don't have any more vomit to heave.
Feb. 23rd, 2012 11:25 pm (UTC)
Interesting point (descriptive vs. prescriptive).

Hm ... I think you could make an argument that there's some moral judgment implied by the shoulder angel, a traditional symbol of moral rightitude, going from "Don't do this!" to joining the others in enjoying the show at the end.

But -- while I usually enjoy that kind of criticism and debate -- I don't know that it would add much to the larger discussion here :-)
Feb. 23rd, 2012 09:37 pm (UTC)
It's a damn shame her publisher can't sue Amazon for pulling these shenanigans.

It's a bigger damn shame awful people who purport to be her fans are treating her so shamefully. :(
Feb. 23rd, 2012 09:53 pm (UTC)
If a store breaks street date and the book is street dated, the publisher can punish the store. But to be honest we are not talking about a new Harry Potter book so I doubt much more than a "please don't do it again" will happen.

(no subject) - vixyish - Feb. 24th, 2012 06:43 pm (UTC) - Expand
Feb. 23rd, 2012 09:53 pm (UTC)
Do you get the impression that the people accusing Seanan of being a narcissist don't actually know what that word means? Or is that an ironic hipster thing on their part... hmmmmm...

*doesn't know what the heck is wrong with people and the random psychology books aren't helping*
Feb. 23rd, 2012 11:04 pm (UTC)
Words are hard...
(no subject) - serialbabbler - Feb. 24th, 2012 04:26 am (UTC) - Expand
Feb. 23rd, 2012 10:13 pm (UTC)
Thank you for this entry. As I was reading Seanan McGuire's plea, and saw the names she was called, I thought about, if she wasn't female would she garner the same reaction?

On the flip side, I may go out and buy a few copies of her book on March 6th just because of this whole flap where as, before, I wasn't going to rush out for it since I have way too many on my to-read pile --what's one more anyway for a good cause?
Feb. 23rd, 2012 10:25 pm (UTC)
Having heard her read the first chapter of this book, I fully endorse your plan!
(no subject) - alicetheowl - Feb. 24th, 2012 03:40 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - yellowblackhaze - Feb. 24th, 2012 04:12 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - alicetheowl - Feb. 24th, 2012 04:51 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - gelsey - Feb. 24th, 2012 08:29 am (UTC) - Expand
Feb. 23rd, 2012 10:19 pm (UTC)
The HBO/Game of Thrones thing makes me crazy, especially because a huge part of the target market for "Game of Thrones" is, uh, technical types (i.e. nerds), who quite often do not have TV service at all. (They use the internet for that.) I know so many people who had money in hand--plenty of it--and were ready to buy access to watch "Game of Thrones" off the internet and were frustrated and angry to learn that HBO wouldn't sell it to them unless they bought TV service. HBO must have lost tons of sales. I'm not saying HBO's decision justified piracy, but it sure was bad business.

That said, what's happening to Seanan is unspeakably ugly. How can someone who considers themself a fan treat an author that way? It's disgusting.
Feb. 23rd, 2012 10:27 pm (UTC)
I don't have TV service at all! So I...pre-ordered the DVDs. Which were available on Amazon for pre-order before the series even finished airing, I believe. Not having TV service has, if anything, made me much more accustomed to just waiting for things to hit DVD before I watch them, and thus even less understanding of the "must have it now, therefore, must pirate!" angle. I am a big girl. I am capable of waiting a few months to see a thing that has been released.
(no subject) - coaldustcanary - Feb. 23rd, 2012 10:48 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jimhines - Feb. 23rd, 2012 11:05 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - mariness - Feb. 24th, 2012 01:29 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - akiko - Feb. 24th, 2012 02:05 pm (UTC) - Expand
Feb. 23rd, 2012 10:19 pm (UTC)
I probably don't need to add this
Since I have lots on my to-read pile and, obviously, I can wait to get to something, I totally don't get the want it now thing. Go read a book by a different author! Maybe one written by jimhines even! There are plenty of good ones out there so there is no need to wait on just one book by one author.
Feb. 23rd, 2012 10:28 pm (UTC)
You know, if I don't want to shell out $25 for your new book, and don't want to wait a year to read it, I can get it from the library. For free, and you get royalties. Then I can buy the paperback when it comes out, for re-reading. Easy peasy.
Feb. 23rd, 2012 11:28 pm (UTC)
At least until we defund and eliminate the libraries...

Sorry. I should limit myself to one rant/day.
(no subject) - foi_nefaste - Feb. 24th, 2012 12:16 am (UTC) - Expand
Feb. 23rd, 2012 10:43 pm (UTC)
I also agree with some commenters on Seanan's blog who expressed wishes that these vicious attackers could be somehow outed or punished legally for their abuse.

The internet is amazing in many ways, but for too long we have let it be a place for spammers and other terrible people get away with being truly nasty human beings. I'm not sure exactly what can be done to reverse that trend, but as a society I'd like to see us try.
Feb. 23rd, 2012 11:21 pm (UTC)
I had similar thoughts...
(no subject) - barbarienne - Feb. 24th, 2012 04:50 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jennielf - Feb. 24th, 2012 06:28 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - netmouse - Feb. 24th, 2012 06:43 pm (UTC) - Expand
Feb. 23rd, 2012 10:44 pm (UTC)
Right on Jim. Entitlement attitudes like both those instances piss me off as well. Um, sorry, but just because something is not available to you RIGHT NOW, doesn't give you the right to do illegal things, or treat people like they've done to Seanan.

What, there aren't any other books you could read in the interim? Or other TV shows to watch while you wait for the DVD release date? These are behaviors my mother wouldn't have tolerated out of me by the time I was in Kindergarten. Why would I respect "adults" who display these poor behaviors.
Feb. 23rd, 2012 10:48 pm (UTC)
I think that comic is a pretty good description of what really does happen. Far too many people just plain don't want to pay for anything, but plenty of people are willing to pay and have no way to do so. I think there is a little more than pure entitlement going on where the decision to steal it now rather than waiting is concerned though. I think at least some of the reason they really want TV episodes right away is that they want to participate in various online fandom activities. The discussion about TV episodes normally takes place when they're first shown, not however many months or years later when DVDs become available, if they do. If you miss seeing an episode right away, you're left out of the discussion. For some people that really matters. When HBO is involved, I find it particularly easy to understand people's frustration. Cable packages that include HBO are expensive. If I felt inclined to watch an HBO show, it would probably cost me somewhere in the $60-80 per month range to be able to do so. (Or maybe more. I haven't checked on cable prices lately.) Luckily, I don't care about HBO's shows. I have no trouble finding plenty of shows that are available without forking over that kind of money to Comcast.

If the MPAA and its members would work on making their products available legally when people want them instead of directing so much of their attention towards trying to stop piracy, I think they'd come out ahead. Making people wait doesn't cause them to buy more as far as I can tell. Making them wait sometimes causes them not to purchase at all, either because they've chosen piracy to get what they want or because it no longer seems important by the time it becomes available.

What is going on with Seanan's book I just plain don't understand. How can anyone possibly think that saying the things that have been said to her is appropriate? Even if she did have control over what is happening, it still wouldn't be appropriate.
Feb. 23rd, 2012 11:09 pm (UTC)
I agree with you that the comic is fairly on-target in terms of describing at least some of what's happening, and (as usual) doing so in a very entertaining way. And I wish more publishers/providers would take the piracy-fighting tactic of making their products more easily available at reasonable prices.

As for Seanan ... yeah. My mind breaks just trying to understand that mindset.
Feb. 23rd, 2012 11:04 pm (UTC)
There's a great deal of piracy that goes on in the musical theatre community, precisely because of the limited-availability issue. Great recordings of shows exist, but whoever owns the rights doesn't see the profit in releasing them, so researchers and collectors trade copies instead.

However, there's a very strong code of ethics, which every researcher and collector is expected to adhere to, which says that if a legal version of something you've bootlegged becomes available, you will purchase it. Whether you still have a burning desire to have it in your collection or not.

To me, if you're willing to live by that rule, and you think it's fair and reasonable, then you're not pirating out of entitlement. If you think it's ridiculous to pay money for something you already own, then, yes, get over yourself.
Feb. 23rd, 2012 11:56 pm (UTC)
Holy crap. Entitlement much? that really sucks :( I'm actually almost glad I haven't been published yet right about now.
Feb. 24th, 2012 01:11 am (UTC)
Oh, for the most part, I think the Published Author thing is rather sweet. But there is an aspect where, especially if you're active and accessible online, you start to lose that ability to just be a person and you become, at least in the minds of some fans, a possession in much the same way as their books.

Not most fans. The majority are amazing, wonderful people. But there are always the exceptions...
(no subject) - pantryslut - Feb. 24th, 2012 01:46 am (UTC) - Expand
Feb. 24th, 2012 12:03 am (UTC)
Also, I read the comic. Shat also tends to happen with piracy is sometimes you can get taken, too. a friend of mine wanted to see The Divide, but it wasn't released in his town for the theatrical run, and he didn't want to wait until they got around to a DVD release. so he searched some sites and Usenet claimed to have it. So he signed up, got charged, did a search for it...and it wasn't there. Not even a little bit. He cancelled the trial, got his money back, and said he'd never try that crap again.

Mind, not because he was depriving the creators, but because he himself had been ripped off. Sigh.
Feb. 24th, 2012 12:09 am (UTC)
...Okay, while I fully admit to pirating a decent number of things (mostly because the developers aren't making money off of it anymore or my original copy has stopped working because of save battery problems, like with most NES and a few Gameboy Color games or I can't find a way to buy it in the States (most of the music I listen to)), spewing vitrol at someone because they're converting something to the various ebook formats and it takes time to do? I... I don't understand how someone could think that that's okay. At all.
Feb. 24th, 2012 01:08 am (UTC)
I can't wrap my brain around what makes people think that's okay either. I mentally short out trying to understand that mindset.
Feb. 24th, 2012 12:18 am (UTC)
I guess Seanan has gone public. My mini-rant of a day or so back, I kept specifics out.

I will repeat: Some people's children . . .
Feb. 24th, 2012 01:08 am (UTC)
Yep. I was kind of waiting for this to go public before rantifying all over it.
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