Dose of reality
First of all, copyright law is seriously broken now. Copyright durations lasting decades or centuries past the death of the creator and so on are there purely to enrich large media companies.
In addition, organisations such as the RIAA are abominable in their actions, their morals, their treatment of artists.
However, having contempt for one side in this argument does not make me fail to realise....
Piracy is wrong. People keep using the following excuses:
"Every pirated copy is not a lost sale". Absolutely true, which is why the "losses" media companies claim are rubbish. On the other hand a *lot* of pirated copies *are* lost sales. Claims that anyone who would have bought a copy if they couldn't get one for free doesn't pirate is as dishonest as claiming that everyone who pirated a copy would have bought it. Piracy does cause lost revenue.
"I always buy a copy if I like it" - this is an excuse often claimed but not always rigorously enforced. How many people who claim this after, say, 50 hours of playing a game and completing it, really do go out and buy it and stick it on the shelf? Really? No, there's always something better to spend your money on, but I really did mean it, honest, it's just this one case....
"The quality is so rubbish, they don't deserve the money!" I heartily agree. Which is why I don't buy rubbish. However "I hated it so I'm not paying for it but I played it for 30 hours", or "It's not worth the money, but I've kept a copy on my hard disk, my iPod and burned a CD" is not exactly convincing. If you don't like it, don't pay for it - and don't pirate it. Easy. Yes, sometimes you can't find reviews, demos or listen to it on the radio before you buy, but in 99% of cases you can. How do you expect to convince companies to make better products without buying the good stuff and ignoring the bad?
"It's not really a crime. You're not stealing anything, just making a copy". Well, sort of true, except that you're not really paying for a small plastic disk. You're paying for thousands upon thousands of hours of work by hundreds of people. These people depend on selling copies of their work for their livelihoods. The image that software, games and music appear by divine creation in thousands of little boxes in a big souless global megacorp warehouse is wrong. Plenty of software houses have gone bust. Maybe if System Shock 2 had sold a mere 25% more copies - and at least that many were pirated - Looking Glass Studios woould still exist.
Quite a few of the above posters really boil down to "I want my free stuff without having to pay for it!" rather than being the moral "freedom fighters" they believe themselves to be. I doubt that many of them depend on sales of their copyright works for their income. But lets do a test. Here's my challenge to you. Tell your boss that you have no objection if he were to "pirate" your work and take a copy from your hard disk instead of paying you for it. Promise you'll continue to generate content for him even if you get no money for it. He won't be committing a crime - after all, he won't be taking your car, or your house, he just won't be paying you for the work you do that he uses, just as pirates don't pay creators for their work that they use.
Let me guess - that's different! That wouldn't be fair! My copying a novel and not paying for it is fine, but my boss copying a report *I* wrote and not paying *me* for it would be wrong! I'm not a hypocrite, it's just different somehow! Because it's me!