I think this is where we differ. I do not believe that a legal, equitable system would be developing were it not for p2p. I see p2p as a means to get there -- I agree that there are better alternatives, and some are developing right now. I will say more later about what I see as some viable alternatives, if they are given enough support.
Yes, I think this is a point where reasonable people might disagree. Certainly, at one point, p2p software forced studios to wake up. At this point, however, I doubt continued illegal file sharing could be justified on this point.
The other thing I wish to point out is that you're essentially arguing that illegal file sharing is "civil disobedience." I believe there is a place for civil disobedience, but this is not it. We should follow laws that we think are imperfect, unnecessary, or even unfair. It is only when a law is patently and indisputably unjust while at the same time being immune from legal methods of challenge that we should turn to civil disobedience. This is absolutely not the case here. I might think it'd be more efficient to drive like the British, but that doesn't make it right for me to barrel down the left side of the road. I might think I can hold my liquor just fine, but that doesn't make it okay for me to drive with a BAC of .12. Society requires mutual trust and cooperation, and that sometimes means defering to democratically-made choices.
You've mentioned Ruckus, and if these criticisms from Wikipedia are true, it would not suit my needs:This criticism is incredibly ironic, because all the problems you point out with Ruckus are all caused by illegal downloading. Widespread bootlegging has made artists and labels so averse to digital music and innovation, that they require incredible amounts of DRM. To the extent that Ruckus is hobbled, it is because of piracy.
# The Ruckus music files are copy protected, which prevents them from being used with some of the most popular portable music devices such as the iPod and some irivers. Ruckus works only with Microsoft PlaysForSure, a program with an uncertain long-term future following the release of Microsoft's new flagship Zune format, which is incompatible with PlaysForSure.
# Ruckus music files carry individual licenses that must be renewed monthly by signing into service or playing media.
# The service is not compatible with Apple Macintosh or Linux
I'll get you the empirical evidence of why p2p has helped artists -- I never argued for the complete evisceration of IP rights. You keep bringing this back to whether or not my piracy is justified, on an individual level. I could care less whether you think I am an immoral, horrible being. It's not about that for me -- if you wish, fine, I enjoy the fruits of labor without always compensating artists, and this may not be legally or morally justified. The point is that p2p as a technology is helping artists break out of a system that wasn't good for them. So when I get you the stats, realize that this is what my focus is on.
When you present this evidence--which you should already have, since it is supposedly your reason for your piracy--be sure that it reflects a few things that would be necessary for your conclusion:
1. Illegal file sharing--as opposed to artist-sanctioned p2p sharing--helps small artists.
2. Any benefit to small artists is of a magnitude to outweigh the harms imposed on entry-level workers in the recording industry, employees of music retailers, large artists, and everyone else.
3. That most small artists actually support illegal sharing of their files, since it wouldn't be fair to say you know what is best for them and impose your own solution against their will.
4. That illegal file sharing better serves these goals than other methods of supporting change (like turning to independent, unsigned artists).
5. That illegal file sharing will actually someday result in the imposition of a legal, equitable system.
Finally, I am not making any moral judgments about you. Illegal file sharing, in the aggregate, has serious negative effects on everyone. Illegal file sharing, on an individual basis, violates the law and the autonomy interests of artists. To the extent that any individual judgments can be made from this, it is only because they necessarily follow from reality.
I think Beer is totally right. In much more direct words, he says what I've been saying all along: "People download music because they can get it for free. Period. And not one of you b#tches have the nuts to just say so." All the excuses have been shown to be just that--excuses.