Well, the optimist in me had considered the idea that maybe Wizards of the Coast was pulling all of its PDFs from online stores because it was about to launch a major re-print project wherein a huge amount of out of print product would be republished as collectors’ editions.
Now, I’m totally sympathetic to the problem of piracy. I understand why it’s a real concern to publishers, and I have contempt for those who use illegal copies of someone else’s property as their everyday media. For instance, I’m not a big fan of RPGNow’s watermarked PDFs, but I also don’t have a big beef with it as I won’t be sharing them outside of personal use.
At the same time, it doesn’t take a genius to see that removing the availability of relatively cheap legal copies will do absolutely nothing to cut down on the sales or free sharing of illegal copies. In fact, exactly the opposite will occur.
For all the railing against Wizards by the old school D&D crowd, I’ve long been impressed with their willingness to make PDFs of out of print product available at very good prices. Now they’re apparently undoing that (though it will take some time to see just what it is, exactly, that they are doing) and I can’t see this move as doing anything except helping the retro-clone movement in the long run.