I have some serious issues with people that download music. It's has nothing to do with the fact that our current copyright system is absolute crap. It has to do with the fact that you are getting something for free that someone created for the purpose of selling. It's not 1 hour in the studio to create an album and have it be done. It's usually 3-6 months of 18+ hour days of recording, rerecording, producing, post-production, going back over the originals, adjusting the mix on each of the tracks, and so on. Most musicians make minuscule amounts of money off of each album sold. In fact, most professional musicians would be considered at the poverty level. Record labels purchase the fancy cars, and houses and throw the parties and then give them or loan them to the musicians. Musicians make the most of their money when touring and going to concerts.
Now, why does this make downloading music "bad"? They're not LOSING money, maybe you wouldn't have bought the album in the first place. Maybe no one would have. But what most people don't understand (or they do and don't care) is that the music you downloaded was hosted somewhere. 95% of the music downloaded is using a peer to peer filesharing program, which means everyone running the program is hosting the files as well as downloading others. So in effect, you may have been benign in your downloading of the music ("They were recommended to me, I wanted to listen before I bought it", etc.) but you then become a server for whoever wants to download the music themselves. You are not just downloading the music, you're redistributing it amongst any who cares to download it.
In addition to the rights of the creators, the peer to peer filesharing software is some of the most poorly written pieces of **** out there. They utilize as much of the available bandwidth as possible, without any throttling, latency detection or any other methods of determining when it's getting lower speeds because it is saturating the circuit. It will upload at the full capacity, meaning other internet based traffic you try to attempt will be seriously impacted as well as flooding the downstream with incoming files. It sounds like that's what you want to do, send others files as fast as you can and download files as fast as you can, which is fine, so long as you are doing absolutely nothing else on the internet. The instant you begin web browsing, or say, playing ffxi, it is noticeable. A few of the programs have "throttles" in them that really do nothing at all except set the packet size that it's sending. Setting the "bandwith limit" or "upstream speed" does nothing for it because it is sending at the same rate, it is just prepared to queue any packets that can't be transmitted.
Why should the creators of something not have the decision over whether others can give it away or not? I write software, I write web applications, I write music. I've released a lot of software under the GPL, allowing for others to modify and redistribute it. I've also NOT released a lot of software under the GPL because if everything I do is essentially given away, how do I pay my bills? The same applies for everything, the creator should have the right and the ability to say "No, Catwho, as cool as you are, you can't give my stuff away for free." or to say "Sure thing, Dagiraffe, give it all away."
Our copyright system is flawed in that the current interpretation of it considers the medium in which the product was on, not on the product itself. The current goals of the RIAA and other, similar groups, is to allow you to have only 1 copy per purchase. I.e., buy an album on CD, you can have that CD, but you can't transfer the CD to another medium, like a hard drive, or change the format to mp3 and transfer it to a music player.
Ok, I think I'm done with my rant. You folks don't have to stop downloading music, just understand the full implications of what you're doing.