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top comment:

So just to be clear, are you denying the "anti-piracy" side their argument on grounds of moral simplicity? Of course there are shades of nuance, as many people here have already established. BFV and wasoxygen both have valid points within their discussion, as does thenewgreen when he mentions that stealing for need inhabits a different space on the moral spectrum as stealing something from desire.

In light of all that, it looks like you've oversimplified the argument a few shades. I've seen very few people other than, I dunno, ad men for "The 20" portion of my movie theater experience ever argue that "stealing is stealing, period." I've seen plenty more people supply the below arguments, pro and con. Don't dismiss one side of the argument based on (don't say it don't say it I'm gonna say it) strawman.

You know what else I've seen? The effects from the supply side. This isn't something I talk about often here for various reasons, but for the sake of my stance I think it's useful to clarify: I was once a relatively successful supplier of the kind of IP you're talking about. You know why I'm not anymore? Because more people, by orders of magnitude, decided that they valued my IP enough to copy, share, experience and talk about it, than people did enough to attach a dollar value to that IP the same way they would, say, a sandwich (and at much the same price, I should point out).

I remember being initially flattered by the numbers I was seeing vis a vis filesharing of my IP. Hey, this is great exposure! People like this stuff! This is awesome! That feeling deflated over time as I realized that:

a) A lot of the support I saw at shows was at least as much due to extensive label-side promotion, savvy product placement, licensing exposure, and good ol' fashioned elbow grease from me and mine than from support garnered from the fleeting online hype cycle. We worked our asses off, on the road, for the better part of the year, for several years in order to see the returns we did. Filesharing? It's great for immediate exposure, but it also facilitates a culture of consumers with very low attention span and an insatiable appetite for new stuff faster than you can possibly supply it.

b) Roughly ten times as many people just downloaded our shit over the period of five years than bought it. Resulting in

c) Our label not being able to afford more publicity support due to always having to dig themselves out of the red. Less publicity and general support from label = less exposure = less money for us.

Now, min_wage brought up the tour support thing below (by the way, I have quite a lot of respect for _wage's argument sheerly by virtue of owning it- steal for want, steal for need, but if you're going to do it, tie it to larger philosophy rather than some small-minded moral equivocation). In response: said live purchases are enough to support touring costs- transportation, upkeep, room & board, merch reorders, equipment repair, theft mitigation, management percentage, booking percentage... list goes on. Whatever net profit was left over, that was split anywhere between five and seven smelly, hungry performers. It was often enough to get us through a few months with some pocket change left when we got home... but not always. Money made on the road supports the road.

Interesting tangent: you know where we got the most money? Huge corporate interests that wanted to use our stuff to add "hip" cred to their product. The Man everybody loves to rail against? He was the only one willing to assign value to and then compensate that value for our work.

Wasn't enough, though. Now, if those that had downloaded our IP for free had instead paid for it- and it was pretty cheap, all things considered- I can say with confidence that I'd still be working at it.

I stopped doing what I was doing on the scale that I was doing it because I was broke and tired and finally had to find something that would support my family. So quit and stop whining about it. I did. I bring it up not to cry in my beer, but to highlight a simple point: the less you're willing to pay for the product you choose to consume, the less the producer of said product gets. The less that producer gets, the less incentive there is to supply product.

So if you value the IP you're consuming, it might be worth doing a little more empathizing and a little less justifying. Or else, jesus, have the stones to own up to what you're doing rather than trying to snake your way out of culpability. Is stealing sometimes morally justified? Yeah, fine, but you'd be hard pressed to apply those circumstances to this arena. Sure, you're not stealing a physical thing, you're making a copy. But each free unauthorized copy means less food in the producer's mouth. That's taking something you want at the expense of what she needs. And there will come a time when your very favorite product just doesn't exist, because there's no incentive to produce it.