This is a topic I've been very curious about, but almost afraid to touch o.O sort of like incest, haha, but will save that one for another day...
I'll be honest, I have downloaded songs here and there, and gotten games that are hard to find in an actual physical copy nowadays, and sometimes I've gotten things that wouldn't be hard to get a legitimate way. Thing is, I've never been sure how wrong what I did really is or how much guilt I should be feeling, because the whole issue is so murky and loaded with fearmongering I have no idea where the truth of it lies and where the social myth is.
Wow, that sounded like my incest rant again xD
Anyway, the one arguement I hear a lot is "LOL! Kanye West is rich, stealing his music online won't hurt him" To which I scratch my head... didn't he get rich selling CD's, not, ya know, giving them away? :/ He may not feel it now, or ever, but musicians after him would probably be hurting at some point. Right? This is the thing, I don't really know if this is 'hurting the industry' or if it's 'growing pains'. All industries eventually change, and the elements that stay put will suffer as the system becomes something they can't operate with. Maybe there are better ways to cut down on piracy instead of hiring rabid lawyers to scare potential pirates with highly publicised and heavy handed lawsuits that secretly draw in an assload of cash as a bonus. Maybe these lawsuits are one of the stretch marks of the rise of digital distribution instead of music stores with plastic cases.
I remember once I read that piracy was an issue in Russia, but Valve started upping their localization efforts, which made the Russian versions of their games available around the same time as the American ones, which cut the piracy rate of their games down a good deal. I thought that was kind of a 'well duh!' line of thought, it felt simple and proactive, attacking the source of the problem rather then treating the symptoms.
Be honest, have you ever downloaded an album and felt slightly guilty? Did you try to learn what exactly it was you'd just done and been completely intimidated by how much the issue has exploded that you really can't read on for the legal clusterfuck that just tumbled from your Google?