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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.
…stupid.
…greedy.
…ungrateful.
…narcissistic.

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.

Comments

lynnet
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."
akiko
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.
rowyn
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.

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