First, let's start with the only bit of "real" news in the piece, which is this footnote:
The 10:1 ratio that Greg references is for PDFs only – it has nothing to do with the physical books. For every one PDF purchased legally, there were at least 10 downloaded illegally. And yes, we can track it.
*snicker* No, you can't, and everyone knows you can't. Saying otherwise just makes you look silly.
But not nearly as silly as the line of reasoning. Because people were pirating WotC's latest release at a ratio of ten pirated for every one purchased, WotC decided to yank their entire catalog of PDF offerings.
First, why is Mr. Leeds being shoved out the door to explain this situation days after the event itself? Did they not understand how the PDF market works? Did they not understand that people who had legitimately purchased PDFs would now no longer be able to download the product they had legally bought? When the event itself happened, the only official word from the company itself was posted on bulletin boards, leaving understandably shocked and angered customers to speculate wildly on the reasons.
Granted, this explanation, even if it had been announced in advance, wouldn't have helped much:
The piracy of our products was increasing at an alarming rate, and we felt that it could have a negative impact not only to Wizards of the Coast, but to the hobby industry as a whole...
The piracy became a substantial concern when we saw thousands of copies of our recently released Player’s Handbook 2 being downloaded illegally within hours of its release. We cannot share sales figures, but I can tell you that we conservatively estimate the ratio of illicit downloads to legally purchased copies was 10:1.
I'm still having trouble wrapping my mind around a world where this action makes sense. First, if it's true that the folks at WotC "do not have any plans to resume the sale of PDFs, but are actively exploring other options for the digital distribution" of their texts, what possible good was achieved by shutting down the legitimate sale of PDFs? The digital copies were already out there, and apparently there are 10 cracked copies for every legitimate copy of the PHB2 already loose on the net, where they can be reposted to torrents or made available through other means. Stopping the sale of any more digital copies of PHB2 can't have much of an impact on this.
It gets even worse when you look at WotC's out-of-print catalog. Even if the pirated-to-purchased ratio of these texts was a billion-to-one, WotC was still selling that one at almost no cost to themselves. Whatever their volume of sales was on these products, it's now zero. This is the very living and breathing definition of cutting off your nose to spite your face.
If piracy was, in fact, the reason for ending the sale of their PDFs, it would have made more sense for WotC to announce a six-month delay between the release of the dead-tree and PDF versions of their books. As it is, all they appear to have done is annoy their customers while denying themselves income from the sale of PDFs.