I just purchased an MP3 player, the Creative Labs Zen 30 GB model which I like except that the user interface could be more intuitive. The sound quality and features are amazing though. I "ripped" songs from about half of my hundreds of CD's (at full quality so I can get the best sound at the expense of song storage). All this ripping reminded me of the media companies and their lawsuits against major copyright infringement offenders, (and the embarrassing lawsuits against kids). Stealing songs or movies is illegal, but these companies have partially brought the problem upon themselves. They were greedy and frequently charged outrageous prices for music, $17+ for a CD! So, of course music aficionados without lots of cash found alternative ways to get their favorite music. The answer was Napster. The free version of Napster is gone, but various peer-to-peer file sharing alternatives still exist. To me, piracy isn't as bad of a profit loss problem as software/media producers say. Some people 'steal' stuff they never would have bought in the first place so those instances of theft aren't lost income. Then, these 'thieves' often become loyal customers and ambassadors who spread the word and advertise the product for free (as in buzzmarketing). The message gets to some people that can afford to buy it, and would not have bought it in the first place because they would not have know about it. Potentially, those who stole a band's music will eventually get to the stage in their life where affordability stops being an issue. Then they can buy future CD's or software.
Hopefully the media/music/software companies will continue to innovate in how they deliver content and will not continue their greedy ways. If they lowered prices on music and software, fewer people would steal, and profits might increase. Again, I don't condone illegal free downloads because if all the profit goes away, fewer artists will produce content for us to enjoy and the quality might go down. But major media and content providing corporations must stop exaggerating the problem and begin doing a better job of adapting to technological and market conditions. To do so would only help their credibility and their profits.