I take offense at this:
“Or self-indulgent netizens who believe it is their God-given right to get all the music, films etc. they can stuff into their hard disks without paying the creators a single penny”
Caveat Emptor applies in many purchases, but when a product is defective or doesn’t deliver on it’s promised function, consumers can often return the product or at least obtain credit for their purchase. This is true for most physical purchases, perhaps not all.
However, when one buys media (music, movies, games) you end up in a hinterland. Say I’ve bought “Plan 9 from outer space” not knowing that it is camp and expecting a classic space horror (I live in a cave or something) I can’t return it to the store for a full refund. They won’t let me. However, if I watch it online or download it I can know if the investment was worth the money.
You may not agree with this, but at least you can see the sense of it. I think I’ve seen the basic content nearly 90% of the DVDs I own before I even saw the disc. Sometimes in the theatre (I vowed to never purchase the Transformers Movie (the first M bay one after that) and sometimes via other means.
However; in the cases where I went to the theatre I’m out 20-50 dollars depending how many people come along and the theater; I can’t recover that money in any way. It’s not just a foolish investment, it’s robbery. I was promised X amount of entertainment and instead I was bored or offended or even worse disgusted for X amount of time. I charge 60 dollars an hour for my wasted leisure time; where do I collect?
If groups like the RIAA can charge thousands of dollars for individually “stolen” songs, why can’t consumers have similar protections? These protections were invented for the Producers; the Pirate Bay and their ilk are the market reaction to these protections.
What I’m driving at is if consumers had the ability to receive refunds for bad media; it would go a long way to changing the mindset of people who download movies and music and so on.