Ah, well, if I’m being invited to… :wink:
Initially, I believe that an appropriate definition for “theft” in the particular example/field of digital content could read: “unauthorisedly obtaining a copy of the work”.
This ties up with Tony’s definition, which was also quite good, as the concept on which “theft” hinges most is authorisation vs lack thereof, where digital content is concerned, the authorisation being provided (initially) by the author and, through cascading contractual clauses down the delivery pipeline, eventually all the way down to the end-customer, the ‘purchase’ (in the wide sense of the word, as I believe my definition equally covers Open Source which still requires some form of agreement to “authorised access” for use, if only through agreeing to the GPL) act of this end-customer constituting the last link in a chain of “authorisations”…
The apparently conscious decision by consumers to assent (and partake) in software piracy is not surprising in the least. By way of example, cast your mind as far back as 10 years ago, where the average punter was no more educated about Treasure Software and Wonderswan and the joys of 8-bit PC engine or AES playing, but did know to ask whether the second-hand PSX he was buying was ‘chipped’. Not really changed since, has it?
I don’t think that any solution, or even the problem itself, lie in the current Statutes, which are not as out-of-sync with technology as people believe generally think, because they offer the full range of remedy in cases of piracy. “The Law” would certainly allow a developer or publisher to file suit against one or each pirate (yes, everyone, not just the guy with an industrial DVD replicator in his bedroom) and a finding of infringement (of every form of IP in a copied game) would be reached.
But if there’s no money (damages) to be obtained, unless you have vast $$$ resources (like the RIAA/MPAA), the only value to this approach (for the Plaintiff) is “making examples”. Given the results of the poll/research of the OP, I’d hazard that most consumers will therefore adopt the stance that “it’ll never happen to me”. So, wasteful approach in the extreme.
The problem has arisen out of technology and IMHO, the solution(s) lies in technology as well – someone’s just not come up with it yet…