Earlier this evening, RPGNow pulled all of their Wizards of the Coast product, at WotC’s request. This includes the ability for people who had already purchased PDFs to download them. Paizo will be removing them tonight at midnight.
Their stated reason is an attempt to fight piracy. This is at best misguided.
Piracy is. It will always be. Every form of media can be pirated, and anything which can be pirated will be pirated. It’s not really even a matter of when; for the most part, pirated versions of movies, books, songs and games will be available as soon if not sooner than their legitimate commercial counterparts.
There is nothing you can do to stop piracy. There is nothing anyone can do to stop piracy. Many have tried, all have failed. Many will still try, and they, too, will fail. The problem is, people expect to be able to consume their media. If media can be consumed, the consumer must be able to access it. If the consumer can access it, then it can be copied. Maybe not easily, maybe only by people with specialized skills and software, but it only takes one. Once one unencumbered copy has been made, it can and will be quickly propagated throughout the internet.
Removing your PDFs from RPGNow and other retailers will have one effect, and only one effect: it will now be impossible for people to legally acquire PDFs of your material. Anyone who would have purchased your PDFs will now have two options: pirate them (in which case you get no money) or don’t get them at all (in which case you get no money and the “user base” for your game suffers as well). Neither of those help WotC at all.
As for the pirates? They’ll just go and download the PDFs, same as always.
Wizards of the Coast, please take back this terrible decision. You are hurting yourselves and you are hurting your customers, but you are not even providing so much as a minor inconvenience to pirates. This policy will be completely invisible for them, except perhaps their PDFs will be a few megabytes larger because they’re scanned and OCRed.