Sometimes It's OK to Steal Spiderweb's Games

In his most recent blog entry, Spiderweb Software's Jeff Vogel tells us why it's not always realistic for some people to purchase his RPGs, and in such cases, he understands why dabbling in piracy might be the only viable solution.
Every so often, I get an e-mail in broken English from some kid in Russia or southeast Asia or India. He says how how he is playing my game in a cyber-cafe, for fun and perhaps to practice English. The disparity in the strength of the currency between our two countries makes it impossible it is for him to get the 25 or 28 hard US dollars to buy my game. (It's entirely possible in much of the world to not be dirt poor and yet to be entirely unable to scrape together a chunk of hard U.S. dollars.) The message ends with a sincere and heart-rending plea for a registration key.

Now, you're probably thinking, "Yeah, the kid is probably making it up." I doubt it. Remember, my games are easy to pirate. Anyone who wants to steal my games can grab them any time he or she wants. Maybe some of these pleas are fake, but I'm sure that most aren't.

When I get one of these message, what I want to respond is, "PIRATE MY STUPID GAME!!!" I mean, seriously, the time used drafting that e-mail would have been much more profitably spent figuring out how BitTorrent works.


These days, some people are legitimately poor. Many people, through a mix of poor fiscal choices and ill fortune, are in bad shape. Foreclosed on, or facing foreclosure. Trying to pay down a mountain of credit card debt. Unemployed for a long time. Lacking health insurance. Some people brush this growing population off, saying, "Oh, they brought it on themselves." And sometimes that is true. They made mistakes. Everyone makes mistakes. I make mistakes. It's just that some people are unlucky enough to be savagely punished for their mistakes.

Someone who is facing long-term unemployment and bankruptcy probably should not pay for my game. And, in that case, if stealing my game gives them a temporary reprieve from their misery (and there's a lot of misery out there right now), I'm cool with that. I'm happy to help. These are my fellow citizens, and I want to help out how I can.
An interesting viewpoint, anyway.