Upper Deck appears to have made a serious misstep

In late 2008, Konami sued Vintage over allegations that Vintage was repackaging counterfeit Yu-Go-Oh rares for the secondary market. Following the discovery period in this initial case, Konami found that the counterfeit cards were coming from Upper Deck, its contracted distributor in the United States.
As often happens in commercial cases on this scale, both companies then pushed for summary judgment. Briefly, this involves going to a judge and asking them to just decide that your opposition doesn’t have a case. In this case, Konami would have been asking for summary judgment that Upper Deck committed counterfeiting, and Upper Deck would be asking for summary judgment that Konami had no case and therefore was committing slander and libel by suggesting it.
This did not turn out well for Upper Deck. A quick review of the Court orders concerning the various summary judgment motions shows that Upper Deck’s primary defense was that the manufacturing of fake Yu-Gi-Oh cards constituted “promotional activity”, which would be allowed under the 2006 agreement between Konami and Upper Deck. The court didn’t buy this argument:

Magic, ebay, Paypal

I recently did a second round of purging of my old Magic: the Gathering cards via ebay. Last time, I accepted various forms of payment. This time, I only accepted Paypal, finding other things like money orders just too much of a hassle. I was concerned that this might negatively impact bidding, but it appears not to have had that effect.
The top performers:

  • Library of Alexandria – $152.50
  • A set of four Sinkholes, Beta edition – $118.84
  • Mana Drain – $102.56
  • Juzam Djinn #1 – $90.00
  • Juzam Djinn #2 – $85.00

I was expecting the Library to hit $130, so I’m happy that it managed to top that. Actually, everything went for somewhat higher than I expected. I tried to time the auction end times so that the maximum number of people would be able to bid; I have no idea if that helped boost the prices.

The burgeoning PDF market

Several years ago, I decided I wanted a copy of the D&D Cyclopedia, a sort of “all-in-one” book for basic Dungeons & Dragons that was released in 1990 or so. I was able to pick it up at a very sane price (around retail) from an online seller, which was itself a real step up over earlier years when I would have had to go hunting around used bookstores and game stores that stocked used or vintage merchandise.
More recently, game companies, especially roleplaying game companies, have turned to online sales of PDF versions of their books. You can, for example, buy digital copies of your favorite Steve Jackson Games books at their e23 store, or browse thousands of products at DriveThruRPG.com.
PDF versions of game books have a number of benefits. For consumers, they offer immediate access (click to buy it), the convenience of not cluttering your place or your backpack with books, and best of all, the opportunity to buy things that will never, ever see a reprint as a physical book. Similarly, companies can pick up sales from people who are hesitant to add another book to their shelves, can release direct-to-PDF products that would cost too much to distribute conventionally, and can convert their whole product catalog into a revenue stream.
From what I can see on DTR, both Wizards of the Coast and White Wolf have been aggressive in offering a substantial portion of their entire portfolio for sale in PDF. Always meant to run the classic Dragonlance adventures? You can buy them for $4.95 each. Wanted to check out the Planescape setting? $5.95. Try Vampire: the Masquerade, Revised or second edition, for $15 and $14, respectively.
Some people worry about pirating, but to paraphrase Bill Coffin, “Your stuff is being pirated already.” And given the option, people will happily buy material rather than torrent it.
For me, the most appealing aspect is having easy access to material that, as I said, will never see a physical reprint. There are just so many things that looked cool on the shelves through the years…