Owning a patent doesn't at all give you the right to go ahead and bash someone over the head with it or demand "protection money".
I understand that companies need to recoup their R&D costs by licensing out their patents to companies that choose to license the patent and paying royalties to the company that owns the patent. I have absolutely no problem with this, that's how patents are supposed to work. They are supposed to be licensed out and royalties are paid. But when you start doing the kind of shit that MPHJ and other patent trolls do, you step over the line and you become no better than a mob boss. "Pay up or you get cement shoes!"
A lot of these companies that patent trolls sue don't even get the chance to license the patents, they're simply swept into the court room.
Now if a company decides to not pay royalties and continues to use the patent without licensing it, then the owner of the patent has every right to file a lawsuit. But filing a lawsuit without even giving the third-party a chance to properly license the patent is when you quite simply become a patent troll.
But... did you pay for that copy? If the answer is no, then you legally do not have the rights to have that copy.
If you copy or take something that you do not have the permission or legal rights granted to you by the owner of that "item" then you have technically stolen that "item." Again, I understand that it is a copy but you don't have the legal rights to copy. In any civilized world, that would be considered to be theft.
Now, at one time or another I was once like you. I felt the same way about copying. I remember the old Napster days when I traded songs far and wide across the Internet. But when the lawsuits started happening I deleted all of my ill-gotten songs and started buying them instead to support those artists that made those songs.
If you look at the definition of the word theft, it reads as...
"the act of stealing; the wrongful taking and carrying away of the personal goods or property of another; larceny."
In the case of piracy, though it may not be a physical item that you are taking, you are still wrongfully taking that item/property (though it may just be a copy of that item) that does not belong to you that you did not pay for.
That song or movie that you pirated belongs to someone else, it is not within your rights to take that without proper compensation to the person/entity that owns it.
This is theft if you go by the literal definition of the word "theft."
So by your logic, if a group isn't represented by a "big name record label" they aren't musicians? Biggest bunch of fucking bullshit I've seen a long time, and I've seen a lot of bullshit on the Internet.
This is my set of criteria that I use to describe a musician, it doesn't have to include all of the bullet points.
* A person who sings in band/group.
* A person who plays an instrument in a band/group.
* A band/group that comes together and makes *gasp* music.
* A band/group that people come to see and enjoy hearing their music.
Nowhere in that list is a bullet point that states that they have to be signed by some "big name record label" like EMI. You, jackass... fail.
I prefer to pay for music. not go to The Pirate Bay.
I don't use iTunes and anything that can be labeled as "iShit" but I do use Amazon.com's MP3 Music Store.
When I go there and get a song I get a DRM-free, high-quality, 256-bit (average) variable bit-rate MP3 file that I've seen spikes to full 320-bit. This isn't some badly encoded MP3 which believe you me, I've heard some badly encoded MP3s that was encoded by someone who obviously doesn't know his way around LAME.
There's still Amazon.com's MP3 Music Store. I've not heard anything bad happening to them. The fact that we get DRM-free, high-quality, 256-bit (average) variable bit-rate MP3 files that I've seen spikes to full 320-bit is absolutely great.