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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.


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...
Feb. 24th, 2012 04:42 pm (UTC)
Well, you don't know me, as such, but raising my hand as someone who has never knowingly pirated anything. I say "knowingly" - there was a used box set of a tv series that I bought from ebay that appeared to me to be a pirate copy when I received it (though it could have just been an asian market release), the seller claimed to have purchased it himself in good faith. I suspect he'd perhaps purchased it in Bali or somewhere that 90%+ of DVD/CD/etc on sale are pirate copies.

I hate DRM. It is an abomination and should have been strangled at birth. It is why I find myself having to read ebooks on a couple of different devices because I'm not allowed to convert some of them for reading on my chosen platform.


Jim C. Hines


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