Karrion wrote:[*] On the other hand it's certainly the case that there will be people who pirate songs that, had they not been able to pirate them, would instead have purchased them.
But it is also the case that pirating things encourages the purchase of a product. I would never have bought Supreme Commander, Rainbow 6: Vegas, Gears of War, or subscribed to GameTap for Sam & Max, Beyond Good & Evil, and Psychonauts (and others) had I not downloaded those games. Why should I buy a product if I don't know if I'm going to like it?
Why did you buy Supreme Commander, Rainbow 6, or Gears of War, if you had already downloaded them?
The problem with this argument is that books, movies, games, and songs are not really like clothes. You can't "try them on" before buying them. When I pay for a movie, I pay to watch it. If I watch it first for free, there is no need for the second half. The difference between trying on a shirt and wearing that shirt around town is evident. The difference between trying out a game and playing the game is the money you pay for the second one. If you download a game, play it, and like it, there is no need for you to buy it.
It's a matter of who has control. As a consumer, I want control over artistic media and whether my money goes to any of it. As an artist, I want control over the art I create and whether anybody gives me money for it. Both sides cannot have control. The problem is that an artist who doesn't have that control will not want to create art.
Why can't both sides have control? Because most people doing the illegal downloading are rational people. Me, for example. I have a limited supply of money. I could use half of that for food (and such) and half of that for entertainment. Or I could steal my entertainment and use all of it for food (and such). Given the choice I will choose not to pay for entertainment. Why should I, if I don't have to?
But if everybody acted like me, nobody would pay for entertainment. So what's stopping them?
1. They're not filesharing. Either they think it is wrong (like my parents) or they don't know how (like my grandparents). Expect this group to shrink as time goes on and the people uncomfortable with technology get old and die off.
2. They prefer to bypass the studio system and give money directly to artists. (This is the "I steal but if I like it I donate" option.) Expect this group to grow as long as the studios continue to be asses.
3. They get something legally they can't get illegally. For example: "I'd steal the music but I like the insert that comes with the CD," or "I'd steal the movie but I prefer the quality of an official DVD." Expect this group to shrink as technology gets better.
In the future, more people will take option 2 (and option 4, the one that I take most of the time).
The problem is that this will result in the death of the studio systems. I'll be the first to tell you that the studios we have now suck, from the slavedrivers at EA to the censors in Hollywood to the DRM-loving, sue-happy RIAA.
But studios are necessary, because the creation of art requires capital and infrastructure. So does the marketing of art.
The future consists mostly of low-budget art that nobody's ever heard of. And gee, where'd all the big-budget entertainment go?
So basically my answer to "But filesharing isn't hurting anyone" is "Yet."