Paizo Staff: Watermarked, Pirated PDFs - What to Do?


Paizo General Discussion

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Scarab Sages

Skeld wrote:
kenmckinney wrote:
Why would a random hacker go after Paizo PDFs? There's no money in that. I think it's more likely that an acquaintance of the person who got banned leaked the PDFs.
This. That story sounds fishy.

Actually it isn't fishy. People look for free resources, and all it takes is for someone to take those PDFs and host on them on a site where you have to fill out surveys to get access. Granted, money might not be rolling in, but it does hurt Paizo, and the pirate can make some money.

Liberty's Edge

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The Shining Fool casts "Summon Really Old Quote"

wraithstrike wrote:

I think that in many of these case a friend gets the file and knows enough to upload it, but not enough to hide the identity of the buyer or know that he should.

I would assume in other cases it goes like this.
Buyer:I have the new Paizo PDF
Friend 1:I am kind of broke can I get it?
Buyer:Sure just don't let anyone else use it. I will get in big trouble
Friend 1:Ok, I promise.
Time passes.
Friend 1:I have this nice pdf.
Friend 2:Can I get it?
Friend 1:Sure, but don't let anyone else get it. I promised Buyer I would not let anyone else copy it.

The Cycle continues.

Alternate version of above incident.
Friend 1:Can I use you computer.
Buyer:Sure.
Friend 1:I see he has the new pdfs. He won't mind if I copy this to my USB drive.

The cycle continues in one form or another, and eventually someone puts it online.

This is what I'm actually afraid of. For years my games were at my house and my digital gaming material was on a computer all of the players had access to. I never said "don't steal my files" because I never thought I needed to say that.

Now I realize that I should have said that, but that genie is long ago out of the bottle.


Pathfinder Card Game, Maps, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

I think this discussion remains a relevant one, so I for one don't mind it being taken out of the moth balls :) Especially since there are things that I trigger on when reading this:

Firstly, many people seem confused on what IP is supposed to do. What it sets out to do is to protect intellectual / creative labor or expressions, for instance the creation of words, art and layout. I could write a poem and IP would have me own that text, but not the things I write it on. I still won't own the idea behind it, though. If I write about love, I won't own love. Just my words about it.

IP is there to protect my rights, or more down to earth, the profit I can make with my expression. That poem, for instance, I could sell it. I could read it aloud to intrigued audiences. And I could ask people to pay for my words. If someone else has a better reading voice and starts to read my poem aloud, people may stop paying me. That's when I'd step up and say "stop that" and IP law would enable me to. Even if they bought a book with that poem in it, they bought paper and ink made pretty, but not the words themselves nor the right to read it aloud to paying audiences.

Some profit for Paizo seems to be had from selling printed or digital copies of their amazing text, art and layout. When people take their text, art and layout and start providing that to others in such a way that it hurts Paizo's income, it's only logical they'll say "stop that".

Issue is, when it's not certain who's doing the illegal providing, how to say stop to whom.

I personally believe banning paying customers from the webshop because products they purchased before were found in illegal avenues, may not be the best way to protect income. Firstly, as mentioned before, it is not clear that the purchaser is the same person as the illegal distributor, nor is it clear if the purchaser is responsible for enabling the illegal distribution. It is actually excruciatingly easy to gain access to someone else's documents and it is not always evident to the owner that someone else made a copy. I'd like to quote Russell's Teapot to illustrate how I feel about it. If a distributor bans a paying customer claiming they were involved in illegal distribution, let the burden of proof lie upon the person that makes the claim. For that claim is unfalsifiable. Even if the accused would state being a victim of hacks, or having lost a USB stick, there is no way to prove that they did not still willingly aid in the illegal distribution. Of course, providing proof of guilt is difficult too; it could require actually identifying the illegal distributor, which is actually the person doing the bad stuff.

And on top of that, it still is not quantifiable what the net effect of the illegal distribution is on Paizo's legal distribution. I for one have "sampled" products prior to buying it. Each time I have money for only one purchase and more than one product I'd like to buy, I try to get informed on which purchase would bring me the most value. Paizo has continuously been the company whose products I decided to buy, due to their quality. I would have spent hundreds of dollars less on their amazing products if I could not have sampled some, either by reading a book at a friends house, allowing me to read the text and gander at the art and admire the layout without paying for it yet, or maybe even by reading a book on my PC from some shady source, allowing me to do the same.

So if the illegal distribution provides a lot of people with a "copy of their own" enabling them to not buy the original product from Paizo, it hurts their sales. If the distribution provides a lot of people with a "product sample" enabling them to buy their own legal product from Paizo, it helps their sales. Banning a paying customer certainly hurts their sales. So unless people have some new statistics on the impact of illegal distribution on official sales hidden in some drawer somewhere, then to me it feels like a matter of principle more than anything else. And banning people that may just as well be innocent, that doesn't feel like good principles.

This actually is the only time I've ever had to ponder Paizo principles, by the way. Since all around I've only seen good things, I do tend to try to find the most positive interpretation possible. But still, there's that little shadow of a doubt, and when it comes to matters of IP, I've seen some pretty strange behaviors.

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 16, 2012 Top 32

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As a new publisher with products for sale in the Paizo store, I wanted to share my thoughts on this topic.

I ended my my first two PDFs with the following statement about file-sharing:

"Thank you for reading. If you have purchased this copy of [this PDF], your support of the author's work is much appreciated. If you have instead borrowed this copy from a peer, please consider purchasing products written by the author at some later date, or recommending the author's work to other interested readers."

Only time will tell if it was a good idea to include that statement in PDFs I'm trying to sell.


Pathfinder Maps, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Yerdiss wrote:
bits and pieces

I think it's worth bearing in mind that Paizo havent put forth a "here's what we do" policy - other than to note that it depends on the individual circumstances (which seems like a good first step).

The early post around paizo cancelling access to the store was basically "a friend of mine told me that Paizo behaved unreasonably". I have no special knowledge, but I'm willing to bet that the friend's account to the mentioned poster was not 100% factual, but was biased towards a particular perspective.

I think it's also worth noting that although you may want to use IP laws to protect your sales, that isnt necessarily the motivation of every IP-owner. If they want to use IP laws to restrict distribution of their product, they are allowed to - whether it hurts their sales overall or not.


Steve Geddes wrote:
Yerdiss wrote:
bits and pieces

I think it's worth bearing in mind that Paizo havent put forth a "here's what we do" policy - other than to note that it depends on the individual circumstances (which seems like a good first step).

The early post around paizo cancelling access to the store was basically "a friend of mine told me that Paizo behaved unreasonably". I have no special knowledge, but I'm willing to bet that the friend's account to the mentioned poster was not 100% factual, but was biased towards a particular perspective.

I think it's also worth noting that although you may want to use IP laws to protect your sales, that isnt necessarily the motivation of every IP-owner. If they want to use IP laws to restrict distribution of their product, they are allowed to - whether it hurts their sales overall or not.

(A) Even if the friends account was completely insanely unreasonably biased in the procedure/process/mechanism of the events in question; there are 2 pieces which standout and cannot be dismissed without directly calling someone you don't know a liar. Those pieces are (1) the friends paizo.com account was closed, (2) the friend believed this was a result of piracy involving his watermarked PDF's.

So, all we really have to determine is if the friend's perception was good enough to accurately report on (2). Vic was in this thread earlier and had an opportunity to say, "we don't close accounts for piracy reasons." He didn't. He did imply there may be more to the situation than we know of. Sure, of course there was. The guy was probably a horse's ass about getting his account closed. It may have been temporary but the guy's terrible attitude made the Paizo CS guys decide to wash their hands of this guy. Whatever it is, it doesn't matter, because pieces (1) and (2) from above still hold true. And those are the only important pieces of the story for Yerdiss' comments to remain valid.

(B) No one disagree's with you on what *may* be done with IP. What the concerns being expressed here are addressing is the way which Paizo is *choosing* to protect their IP in this case.

To be clear, there are many many things Paizo *may* legally do. Ie. Paizo could burn every book in their warehouse and have the ashes made into plaster which they use to mold dancing circus panda figurines. But it would be apropos of their customers to express to them reservations about whether they should *choose* to do that.


Pathfinder Maps, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

In case it wasnt clear, I'm not suggesting anyone is a liar.

Paizo Employee Chief Technical Officer

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BigDTBone wrote:

(A) Even if the friends account was completely insanely unreasonably biased in the procedure/process/mechanism of the events in question; there are 2 pieces which standout and cannot be dismissed without directly calling someone you don't know a liar. Those pieces are (1) the friends paizo.com account was closed, (2) the friend believed this was a result of piracy involving his watermarked PDF's.

So, all we really have to determine is if the friend's perception was good enough to accurately report on (2). Vic was in this thread earlier and had an opportunity to say, "we don't close accounts for piracy reasons." He didn't. He did imply there may be more to the situation than we know of. Sure, of course there was. The guy was probably a horse's ass about getting his account closed. It may have been temporary but the guy's terrible attitude made the Paizo CS guys decide to wash their hands of this guy. Whatever it is, it doesn't matter, because pieces (1) and (2) from above still hold true. And those are the only important pieces of the story for Yerdiss' comments to remain valid.

What happened in that original incident is between Paizo and that individual; it would be horrifically inappropriate to comment on it here. All I will say is that it is not safe to assume than anything you outlined as truth is actually true.


Vic Wertz wrote:
BigDTBone wrote:

(A) Even if the friends account was completely insanely unreasonably biased in the procedure/process/mechanism of the events in question; there are 2 pieces which standout and cannot be dismissed without directly calling someone you don't know a liar. Those pieces are (1) the friends paizo.com account was closed, (2) the friend believed this was a result of piracy involving his watermarked PDF's.

So, all we really have to determine is if the friend's perception was good enough to accurately report on (2). Vic was in this thread earlier and had an opportunity to say, "we don't close accounts for piracy reasons." He didn't. He did imply there may be more to the situation than we know of. Sure, of course there was. The guy was probably a horse's ass about getting his account closed. It may have been temporary but the guy's terrible attitude made the Paizo CS guys decide to wash their hands of this guy. Whatever it is, it doesn't matter, because pieces (1) and (2) from above still hold true. And those are the only important pieces of the story for Yerdiss' comments to remain valid.

What happened in that original incident is between Paizo and that individual; it would be horrifically inappropriate to comment on it here. All I will say is that it is not safe to assume than anything you outlined as truth is actually true.

No doubt. I'm certain that the situation was miserable to deal with for both parties.

Unfortunately, perception is reality as far as reputations go. My real point was to say that is ok for folks to express concerns about the possibility of having their account closed. There may be no real risk of that happening, but customers are concerned it may, and it is good for both those folks and Paizo to have customer concerns aired.

Thanks for the reply!


Pathfinder Card Game, Maps, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Vic Wertz wrote:
BigDTBone wrote:
(On the matter of the OP's case)

What happened in that original incident is between Paizo and that individual; it would be horrifically inappropriate to comment on it here. All I will say is that it is not safe to assume than anything you outlined as truth is actually true.

You are completely right. This discussion is rather hypothetical and my worries are mostly of the "What if" kind. I wouldn't want to imply that any actual mishaps have occurred. My apologies if my previous post sounded that way.

In hindsight, I do acknowledge that expressing those worries in a post referring to an actual case, is not the best of ideas. And I'm glad that you show the integrity of keeping the involved person's privacy intact.


As far as I understand the psychology of a hacker:

1.) He/She is only interested in immediate monetary value. eg. Credit Card number, SSS, Government ID, Passport and etc that he can manipulate in relation to identity theft.

2.) He/She will probably sell information that he/she got to third party for a profit.

Now, Pirate Bay, Kick Ass Torrent, Iso Hunt and the like are torrent uploads for hacked pirated software DRM. Usually the seeder will spare hard disk space and monthly internet bandwidth to have the copyrighted materials circulated online. Meaning, he/she is exerting effort and resources and gains nothing in return.

If you analyse this flow, it will definitely root back to deliberate leak/distribution of copyrighted materials in the hope of gaining more materials and keep the community of pirates alive.

Therefore, no matter what reason one gives to Paizo, definitely it will go back to that person and Paizo ain't stupid. As the saying goes, a thief will never confess a crime even if evidence surrounds him/her. This is human nature.

I do hope this gives light to the community. Let us support the publishers and buy what they sell if we like their product. Believe me, some of them literally rely on this livelihood to support a family.

Have a heart.


peterchua96 wrote:
stuff

There are two important points you missed Peter.

1: even monetary hackers have hobbies. While they're in if they notice something they're interested they might grab it while they're there.

2: there are non-monetary hackers who hack for kicks. These types also seem fairly prone to piracy. They may even have the technical know-how to 'scrub' a watermarked PDF but choose not to because they think it would be funny if the schlub they hacked got punished somehow.

I agree wholeheartedly with supporting publishers of material we use, but banning paying customers [as has been claimed but obviously can not be substantiated in this thread] is generally a pretty bad way of making sure that support continues.


Epic Meepo wrote:

As a new publisher with products for sale in the Paizo store, I wanted to share my thoughts on this topic.

I ended my my first two PDFs with the following statement about file-sharing:

"Thank you for reading. If you have purchased this copy of [this PDF], your support of the author's work is much appreciated. If you have instead borrowed this copy from a peer, please consider purchasing products written by the author at some later date, or recommending the author's work to other interested readers."

Only time will tell if it was a good idea to include that statement in PDFs I'm trying to sell.

Well, if it's any consolation, Game of Thrones is the most pirated show from HBO, but it also has the highest DVD sales of any of their shows.


Hello,

I sent report using the email address webmaster@paizo.com How long do they usually response to piracy reports?

Rudy


Pathfinder Maps, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

I think things have changed (this thread was started quite some time ago). I believe the address they like to hear about this kind of stuff is now:

dmca@paizo.com

I’d send the email there as well.

Paizo Employee Managing Developer

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As is commonly the case, Steve is correct.


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I emailed them using webmaster@paizo.com, and so far so good, it was taken down (or maybe that pirate chickened out and quickly removed the content before they get fried). 2 websites full of Paizo contents including the latest releases... Anyway, I will take note of the dmca address, Steve Geddes. Thanks buddy.

I will be watching...


10 mins google search l found over 15 sites with update and black log of stuff and most were on face book so paizo mite like to start there


I forwarded another email that exposes another site containing pirated pathfinder products.


Pathfinder Companion, Maps Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

Google and Bing searches of various Player Companion titles with "pdf" at the end will reveal many pirated Paizo products.

They will also reveal some sneakier types who promise free copies of the most recent Paizo products to people who register with them. In those cases, I couldn't be sure whether they were phishing for spamming purposes or trying to protect themselves from liability while exposing their "customers" to it.

Paizo Employee Licensing Manager

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We pursue pirates as diligently as possible, but it is a never-ending battle. We prioritize going after the bigger, more flagrant sites. Often, though, all that accomplishes is that they move to a new ISP and are back up and running in just a couple of days.

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