Perhaps I should clarify for those who see this as an abstract. I have friends who are professional authors and musicians. They are free-lancers; self-employed and self-producers, which this cyberage has made possible. The make their living on royalties from sales of their products. Probably not three days pass when I don't hear one of them rail about Internet piracy affecting their income.
This IS the same as stealing money from their pocket. Yes, the original copy still exists. But the income derived from the sale of the product is lost.
A married couple I know constantly scans the Internet looking for torrents of the fruits of their labors. When they find them--or those of their friends--they send the torrent hosts a DMCA takedown notice (a legal notice to remove the torrent which is in violation of copyright law), and sometimes they have to do this several times before the torrent disappears. Before going into business for themselves, my friend's wife was an accountant for Chase Manhattan. She tracks their royalties. She say after blitzing the torrents, their royalties increase. In other words; when free downloads are not available, people who want the item somehow find the means to buy them.
It's not as if the stuff downloaded from torrents are necessities for life. These are luxuries; ornaments. Indulgences. We don't NEED them. But the musicians and authors depend on the income to survive. What I'm sensing/hearing here is an attitude of entitlement; that many of you feel you have a right to the fruits of other people's creative effort's without recompensing them for it; without any effort or payment from you.
When I was in school (the first time; I have three different degrees and am going back for a fourth
) going for a BFA, I was on fire with an idea for a painting. I was going to save it for the end of the class. I told everyone about it. Another student took my idea and ran with it, added a couple of minor points, and used it as his own in another class. I couldn't' use my idea because it would look as if I were copying him. The good news was that I can always come up with new ideas. The bad news was that a part of my trust in human decency died that day. Not the last time that happened. I'm not sure much of it remains. Especially when I read on a "Buddhist" forum people defending the idea that it's okay to steal income from others simply because they want to benefit from their efforts without paying them for it.
Attention Venerables: Bhantes, you have your work cut out for you here. HELP.