Most people in the world today have their own small share of media piracy. Some just snatched a song very occassionally, while others are keep downloading, and downloading and downloading constantly…
RIAA and MPAA is trying to protect their client’s interests by educating the public about copyright law, and (especially RIAA) by throwing some lawsuits. Many people online are trying to justify their piracy habits by saying that RIAA/MPAA and their clients already have lots of money and a bit of piracy won’t hurt them. Even if this might be true, it is besides the point. Stealing is stealing and the copyright law has a reason to exist, as it exists in most countries.
My only problem with the whole thing is that how society clashes with finances. What I mean by that is this: I know many people here in the Bay Area who never pirate. But they have a tripple-figure salary per year. People in Greece make $15,000-20,000, but they still have the exact same need to listen to music. They are modern people and society has created a way of life where people listen to popular music, watch TV, buy DVDs. For most of these people, piracy is probably their only way out of this artificially-created “need”.
This is where RIAA needs to slow down a bit: from one side they advertise everywhere about new records and they have created a way of life where stars/actors/movies/songs are part of our everyday life, and on the other side they prosecute people who developed this need based on their advertisements but don’t pay up.
Make no mistake: RIAA is in the clear here. They have every right to prosecute people who steal their property, it’s just that things aren’t as black and white as the law would like them to be. This is very much like advertising how cool recreational drugs are, but prosecute poor people if they steal some of these drugs because they don’t have the money to buy them from the dealer. Entertainment is like a drug anyway, my analogy is not far off at all (stimulates the brain and you can get hooked to specific music).
I think my friend Vince has the right idea about things: he owns no television set, and he listens to free music (licensed under a Creative Commons license). Regarding popular copyrighted music, he just listens to FM radio (he never buys music CDs). He occassionally goes to the cinema, but it’s not the norm.
People might eventually need to “rewire” themselves regarding entertainment and find fun on freely available material instead of risking a lawsuit. “Having fun” is just a point of view anyway.