As a person who gets their work stolen and traded "freely" everyday on the interwebz... I've got a few thoughts on file sharing. And I don't mean just my work. I mean any work.
If you are an artist what you create is meant first to be shared. Not profited from. I'm sorry. That is a radical idea. But it is true. Music, movies, photography... whatever. As an artist you should strive to have as many people experience your work as is possible.
There is however... a huge caveat to this.
This caveat recognizes that effort without reward will, in the long term, exhaust itself. So.... if an artist is not fairly compensated for his/her efforts... the spigot of "art" runs dry. So... it is not so black and white. You can not say... "hey... art is for everyone... so I am going to take this piece of art and give it away to as many people as I can." Because doing so is self defeating. If you like an artists work... and you never patronize this artist. Never spend a penny with this artist. Only ever take pirated works from this artist (or any artist)... then this work that you value will either go away... or... there will be less of it to enjoy.
Artists have a responsibility to offer their work at its value. Market Value.
If an artist takes a piece of art... let's say... a James Cameron movie.... And sells it for $15 per view... that invites a lot of piracy. Because the price is not consistent with the movies actual value.
The value of the work of art has ZERO to do with the price of production. Some artist's work is so un-valuable to others it is not worth any amount of money. Other's work is worth Million$.
The market decides what a piece of art is worth. Not the artist. The artist names the price. But not the value.
If the artist sets his/her price too far from the actual value... then this invites piracy and theft.
The day of the $18 Compact Disk is over. A song for download is worth about $1.00. Any more and it will invite piracy. In fact, I personally believe songs are actually worth about $.25. Hit songs. And if the price were in this range... less people would seek out pirated songs.
NOW... there is a percentage of the consumer base that will never pay anything for any artists work. They will only ever use pirated and stolen copies. But this is the minority. My belief is the majority would pay if they could pay... and assuming you can deliver the product/art in a manner that does not cost the consumer too much money and more time. Because if you have the right price... but wrong delivery method.... people will also steal your work because it is so much easier to do so.
Finally... I don't think there is a one size fits all solution. Music is different that paintings, photos different than movies, literature is different than...whatever... and so on. The current efforts by industries and governments to stop piracy is a total failure.
There is no evidence that piracy is being slowed by industry and government efforts. In fact... we have an entire generation of young people who don't know what it is like to pay for art. Why??? Because the industry and artists have failed to deliver their product and art close to its actual value... and MOSTLY because they refuse to embrace modern delivery methods for content/art distribution.
What a movie was worth 5 years ago is not the same.
In terms of my intellectual property... I would never mind someone using for personal use a few of my photos they did not pay for. A few. Wholesale trading of more than a few pieces of my work I continue to fight. It makes producing the work much harder.
I've seen my work posted on boards and forums... and in 24 hours there are 800+ downloads. If there was a system by where I could use micro transactions to cash in on half of this traffic I would. But, the cost of exchanging money is too high. Transaction fees make this impossible.
So, I am left to my good customers who value my work at the price I charge. I would be happy to charge $.50 for 1000 photos. If I thought I could continue to create the works. But I can't.
Here is my advice. Spend money with the artists you like. Spend as much as you can, when you can. Don't distribute same day, same week, or same month releases. In fact, I would suggest nothing distributed that is not 6 months old. Give the artists time to earn some income from their work. Never try to make money off the distribution of someone else's work. This is clearly theft. And you should go to jail for it and pay large fines.
Posting a few photos from a set is good advertising. So is posting your favorite scenes from a movie... or your single favorite track from a band. This is still theft in the eyes of the law. But I can't think of a single new or upcoming band that would hate it if you helped them spread their music.
Like I said... our one size fits all system for protecting intellectual property is very very flawed.