On Piracy of Tabletop RPG Books, Consent, and The Trove.
Here is my evergreen opinion on the piracy of TTRPG books:
It is wholly unethical to share PDF books without the express permission of a creator. You aren’t pro-creator if you are anti-consent.
Creators don’t get paid ‘in exposure’ on 4chan, The Trove, or torrent sites. There are better ways to distribute free games (such as Itch.io) to raise awareness among RPG fans.
You have the right to digitally copy and alter any physical book you own for personal use. You don’t have the right to distribute that same book on sharing sites without the permission of the creator.
There is 100% a need to digitally archive out-of-print books. We must empower legitimate digital libraries. Archive on non-profit sites (like the Internet Archive), not on questionable websites run by 4chan racists who monetize traffic using Google Adsense. As a reminder, The Trove earned ad revenue for piracy.
Tabletop RPGs can be prohibitively expensive for people in economically challenged countries and those in undesirable financial situations. This is why creators should provide free community copies at their discretion. Itch.io provides an excellent solution for it.
If you are hard-pressed for cash, ask the creator to give you a free community copy. Most will honor this request. I certainly have numerous times. To veterans. To people who are in tough situations. For FreeRPG Day. For GenCon. For promotions. To people who simply asked before pirating.
Informed consumer choices are important. If a creator is unable to provide community copies, they should do their very best to provide a free quickplay or preview copy on DriveThruRPG. Or offer free SRDs or Compendiums. Like I do on Roll20 and DriveThruRPG.
Sites must honor DMCA requests from creators. Those that don’t deserve to be de-platformed.
Finally, support independent TTRPG creators on Itch and other platforms.