Online piracy in the form of p2p and other file sharing using means like online hosting and IRC's is one of the largest sectors of crime in today's world. "One credible analysis by the Institute for Policy Innovation concludes that global music piracy causes $12.5 billion of economic losses every year, 71,060 U.S. jobs lost, a loss of $2.7 billion in workers' earnings, and a loss of $422 million in tax revenues, $291 million in personal income tax and $131 million in lost corporate income and production taxes" according to the Institute for Policy Innovation (IPI). To combat this, Organizations like the EFF, RIAA, MPAA, MPA, GVU and others have mounted a considerably huge legal campaign which we now call the The Intellectual Property Wars.
A long time ago, when the prepubescent adolescent hormones of stupidity ruled my friend's mind and he didn't have a computer,he got caught shoplifting. Of course, this was horrendously stupid , not advisable and will never be repeated; but for the 20 buck movie,he got a year of probation, had to pay close to 1000 dollars in legal fees and almost went deaf for a month due to the yelling his got from my parents.
Today, all around me people are doing much worse and getting off Scot free. I watched the movie that he tried to steal so long ago on a computer for free(not on my computer off-course!) I even know a couple of online hosting sites where you can watch the movie and many others illegally without any legal recourse possible. In the engineering department, There are so many people in the engineering department carrying laptops around with pirated softwares like Orcad, Allegro, Matlab, Proteus, Autocad that have licenses that can go for about 1000 to 3000 dollars without any sort of guilt whatsoever. I am basically shooting myself in the foot right of the bat in my studies and in real life if i choose not to use warez software. There are open source options like KiCad and others and, legal options like student licenses, other options like exclusively using school computer but to be able to compete in the academic world and even in the real world, you gots to be rich or do some pirating.
For quite a while, I used to regularly buy a magazine called racecar engineering. This is a UK magazine that analytically talks about the technology in High-performance cars and automotive racing machines. It was one of a kind. They would talk about F1 technologies like the J-damper, F1 aero devices like barge boards, diffusers and double diffusers, ground effects skirts. They would analyze aero on open and closed wheel prototypes in detail. rake angles,ride height effects for front and rear, effects of aero devices like the splitter, canards e.t.c. One of my favorite issues was one where they were able to get detailed plans of the BloodHound SSC, almost a year before the builders even made a scale model. It was SO COOL!
But the fact of the matter is I am an unemployed sap, Even though I used to try and buy the magazine monthly, I stopped due to financial problem, and as a result due to low demand for the magazine, the only bookstore selling the magazine (Barnes & Noble) stopped stocking it. It is now simply impossible to find the magazine in Mobile Alabama. All of this drama could have been avoided if i simply torrented the magazine instead.
The intellectual property war has now become such a stupid fight with lawyers, governments, companies, and legions of people fighting out this battle that cant be won. What possible reason can exist for fining a single mother 2 million dollars for a single cd. We have got to get to a middle ground. Pirating on one level is wrong, if people in a society do not have a basic respect for other peoples intellectual property then that society is not really healthy. However the current copyright and patent laws are illogical and hopelessly outdated, some of the most prominent laws have gone unchanged since the early 15'th century, and the RIAA and other western organization in lieu with America and other western countries are using these laws as a vice to perpetuate neocolonialism on the rest of the world. So humanity is stuck and will stay stuck in this web for quite a while.
There are many such reasons that people pirate. It is simply unwise to follow some given antiquated sense of morality that is not defined by you to your own detriment. You simply do what you got to do. However a good guideline to use is to still retain a basic respect for intellectual property, don't blatantly flaunt the law like for example hosting a server in your basement or blogging about piracy :D and pray to Jebus or whomever you choose to that the RIAA, MPAA or the many other big bullies don't choose to pick on you.