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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 09:07 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...
Feb. 23rd, 2012 09:12 pm (UTC)
Facepalm indeed.
Feb. 23rd, 2012 09:28 pm (UTC)
But...but...either you're dead and nothing anymore, in which case you don't know what you're missing. Or you're in heaven and presumably they have every show from all time, past and future, on tap for your enjoyment.

Or you're in hell and the only videos available are endless streams of televangelists.
Feb. 23rd, 2012 10:57 pm (UTC)
I'm pretty sure there's also paid advertising and CNN in hell. And no way to turn the televisions off, of course.

Or is that Red Robin's?
Feb. 23rd, 2012 09:20 pm (UTC)
I frequently buy whatever I pirated when it comes out. Except in those cases where it doesn't get a release in the US (hello, Macross franchise), or it turns out that I didn't like it (which is pretty evident after a few episodes). People compare watching fansubs to watching it on TV, except that there's no revenue back to the network beyond the original user, and who knows if they'll even pay for it anyway... Scanslations are really popular, especially for series with 1391907135 volumes; our comic shop has basically stopped stocking things like Bleach because they don't sell.

It's a weird grey area. Of the shows I'm pirating right now, one's been picked up by a US distributor, and as soon as it comes out in a box set, I'm buying it. Another's also been licensed, and I may or may not pick that up, depending on whether I like where it goes. (There are so many shows I've loved the first half of and been annoyed/disgusted by the second half. And I hate having partials on my shelf.) The third ... not worth paying for, really. It's pretty stupid.
Feb. 23rd, 2012 09:36 pm (UTC)
"I frequently buy whatever I pirated when it comes out. Except in those cases where it doesn't get a release in the US (hello, Macross franchise), "

Yuuuuup. I'd be more than happy to buy nearly every single series in the Macross franchise, and the only one I didn't like (I *think* it was Macross 7) that we borrowed a few episodes of from someone, I'd still happily pay to rent or download from a legit source. Clusterfucks with distrib. rights suck.
Feb. 24th, 2012 01:49 pm (UTC)
NO MACROSS 7 IS AWESOME. You just have to make it through the first season, which is kinda boring. Maximilian Jenius, Captain of Battle 7. Miria Fallena Jenius, Mayor of City 7. Their teenaged daughter Mylene trying to get them to start speaking to each other again (while playing bass in Fire Bomber and singing at the aliens with Basara). Both of them getting suited up and piloting VFs in the climactic battle. Max saying, "I guess I'm not such a genius after all." Exedore's head popping up into the bridge and giving advice.

It's also very silly at times, but it's freakin Macross; singing at your enemies to make them stop shooting you is pretty silly. Dynamite 7 is incredibly silly: Basara gets all Captain Ahab and sings at space whales (no, really). Macross 7 Encore has Basara going walkabout in one episode and singing at the mountains and running into a Meltran and having a sing-off. (She turns out to be Mylene's sister.)

(And Ozma Lee is a Fire Bomber fan! That's what he's listening to in the car.)

We own the AnimEigo Macross boxes (now out of print), and we have a few Fire Bomber CDs. I think we also have Plus...it's weird, we own DVDs of shows we've seen, but we've never actually played the DVDs. Giant Robo, Cowboy Bebop, Darker Than Black, Black Lagoon...
Feb. 24th, 2012 04:11 pm (UTC)
"Except in those cases where . . . it turns out that I didn't like it."

In which case you're getting the opportunity to sample it for free, illegally. Why is it morally wrong to pirate things you like, but morally ok to pirate things you don't like? You're cutting into both show income streams.

This is as specious as the argument, "It's ok for me to pirate it because I would never buy it anyway, so the maker isn't going to get any money out of me either way."
Feb. 24th, 2012 04:33 pm (UTC)
*shrug* Watching three episodes of a 26-episode series and deciding it sucks and isn't worth my time, let alone my money, doesn't strike me as antisocial behavior. Crunchyroll and Anime News Network have legal streams, as does Funimation, but my laptop can't handle them. (I tried the Funi stream of the new Last Exile series, and it went two frames, 3-second pause, two frames, 5-second pause, etc, at which point I said fark this. There's no low-res option, and streaming HD is misery.)

I should point out, if it's not obvious, that I'm an anime fan, and I could give a toss about American (or British) TV and movies. I don't have cable; I haven't even turned on my TV to do anything other than play legally-acquired videogames, watch legally-acquired DVDs or Blu-Rays, or watch illegally-acquired fan-subtitled anime in ... a year? Something like that. I go to half a dozen movies in theaters a year. I haven't bought a DVD of an American movie in ages, unless you count Generation Kill (Blu-Ray), which was an HBO miniseries (that came out ... 5 years ago? And any fan squeeing I could do is pointless, because the fans have moved on.)

If things I like are imported and/or licensed in this country, I'll buy them. I buy enough freaking plastic model kits, toys, and other such moichandising -- with import fees and a really painful exchange rate right now. Then again, in Japan, fans make and sell comic books based on their favorite shows/games. It's a HUGE market (Comiket being one example; Mandarake sells both licensed merch and fan-made merch.) It's a somewhat different fan culture. The anime studios know about it; probably a lot of the people that work there nerded out at Mandarake as teens. I don't know that they don't *care*; they ignore it.

North American license holders send out C&D letters to fansub torrent sites once they've started releasing the DVDs. Most follow them. That doesn't mean it isn't possible to still get them, though.
Feb. 25th, 2012 05:46 pm (UTC)
This is one of those interesting cases where doing the moral and ethical thing (not sampling a work that the rights holder has not made available for sampling, when one does not makes purchases without a sample) hurts the rights holder financially, where behaving unethically and getting a sample anyway is to the financial benefit of the rights holder.

I'm not saying that justifies piracy -- sometimes rights holders make decisions for reasons that are not financial, even, and sometimes people are wrong in the self-evaluation that they would not buy X without trying X first. But it's an interesting phenomenon.
Feb. 23rd, 2012 10:54 pm (UTC)
Also, everyone said they buy it later when it does eventually come out, which I suspect is bullshit.

Maybe for many people. Not for me. Literally everything I have ever illegally downloaded - music, film, or television - I have bought when it became available or deleted after realizing that it wasn't for me. At one point I bought a region-free DVD player just so I could do that for a show which didn't come out in the US for 6 years. Just saying, some of us take it seriously, even if we are impatient.

Honestly, for me it's not about dying tomorrow and missing out, it's being able to be part of a fan community for a particular media thing without either missing out on those relationships or being spoiled for everything and having that media ruined for me. In the case of Game of Thrones, I'm actually shelling out money for HBO (lots more than I can probably afford) because if I couldn't watch the show, I'd probably lose a lot of friendships and a place in that fan community. Maybe that's entitled, but it doesn't make it any easier to deal with.
Feb. 24th, 2012 12:05 am (UTC)
"Also, everyone said they buy it later when it does eventually come out, which I suspect is bullshit."

Actually, I do. Couple reasons: 1) sometimes I want special/collector's edition discs and all the neat stuff that goes along with them. 2) do you have any idea how much space torrent rips take up? Yeesh. For stuff I don't want on disc, I'd much rather have them in my Amazon Unbox collection, where I can stream them off Amz's servers onto my Roku!
Feb. 24th, 2012 01:53 pm (UTC)
1) sometimes I want special/collector's edition discs and all the neat stuff that goes along with them

Ooh, yes. I bought all the Last Exile discs because a) I loved that show and b) it came with limited edition postcards (one of which is now signed by Morikawa Toshiyuki). Plus c) the DVD liner notes have things like specs of the various ships, which is total nerd bait.
Feb. 24th, 2012 08:01 am (UTC)
"Also, everyone said they buy it later when it does eventually come out, which I suspect is bullshit."

Weirdly, I have the problem that I wait and then buy the item, then find out that for whatever reason (DRM, incompatible formats, conversion errors result in misspellings to the point I have no idea what's being said) that the version isn't working for me, so I pirate it. Either that or whatever I'm watching isn't available in the US and likely will never be (asian dramas --and I already subscribe to two steaming sites for them, and yet I still need to torrent stuff because neither have it).

But yeah, people can wait and shouldn't be heaping abuse on the author, especially over something she probably doesn't have control over.


Jim C. Hines


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