Illegally copying someone's data does not destroy anything, or harm lives in any way at all, it merely stops (possible) profits from going to the maker of said "digital property".
Piracy is "Piracy", "Copyright Infringement" is a totally different matter and has never killed anyone or taken "their" money.
Quite correct Andy. Copyright infringement does not "take" any money away from the companies that gripe about "piracy" hurting them. As you said, it merely stops estimated and potential, but not guaranteed, profit from going to them. Further, the supporters of SOPA and PIPA seem to be large corporations that turn big (HUGE) profits. I've never heard of an individual or small company that has been harmed, in reality or in projected profit not gained, by copyright infringement or "piracy."
To see how absurd the claims about lost profit are, and get an idea about how much "damage" software or content theft has damaged these corporations, lets look at two well-known corporations that support SOPA and PIPA:Time Warner
, (owns TNT, TBS, HBO, Cinemax pay TV services, Cartoon Network, Warner Bros. Pictures, New Line Cinema, Castle Rock, Time Inc. [22 magazines in the US, 70 outside US. Largest magazine publisher in US, based on advertising revenue
] and more.). Data is for the nine months ended Sept. 30, 2011.
Total operating income (more or less the net profits of a company): 4.132 BILLION dollars
Adobe Systems, Inc.
(Acrobat, Photoshop, InDesign, Creative Suites, Flash, Dreamweaver, Premiere Pro, hundreds of fonts, hundreds of other software titles, etc.)
Data is for the year ended Dec. 2, 2011. Net income (more or less the net profit): 832,847,000 dollars
I can't quickly find any data on how many copies of Time Warner's products are stolen every year. Nor can I find what kind of loss to their (astronomical) profit they estimate. However, a profit of 4.132 billion dollars is pretty healthy, and I find it impossible to have any sympathy for them. Please also note that their top executives are not struggling to get by on the average wages of the average American, they are probably making millions per year. And the "creators" of their digital content (directors, producers, writers, actors, etc. of movies, tv shows, etc.) are making big, very big bucks, so again, difficult to claim that they are damaged, or to feel sympathy for them.
As for Adobe Systems, They are members of the Business Software Alliance that supports SOPA and PIPA. This is not surprising given Adobe's intense effort to combat piracy. It makes even more sense that Adobe would support SOPA and PIPA after a report that they published last year claiming that, of all the copies of Photoshop in use world wide, 53% were pirated. But they seem to make a nice profit anyway. Their operating margin, which I think is sort of an indicator of profit to gross income was 26.1% That is a pretty high margin especially with the majority of copies of Photoshop out there being pirated.
If you look at the lists of business or corporate supporters of SOPA and PIPA that are available on the web, you will note that all of them are big (relative to us individuals) corporations that have the ability to turn very big profits. Many or all of them do make substantial profits. The kind of profits that the corporate supporters bring in every year makes mincemeat out of their arguments that they are losing income due to what they call piracy, and that the inventors or creators of media or software aren't getting rewarded for their efforts. Further, their spurious claim that piracy costs the US jobs is simply a way to scare the public into supporting these bills. Right now the US economy is struggling and joblessness is pretty high, so availability of jobs is something everyone is concerned about. Linking SOPA and PIPA to creation of jobs is highly cynical, manipulative, and unsupported. That argument is used by the politicians to make themselves look good (so they think) to the public.
Again, Andy, you are correct in stating that copyright infringement only stops estimated or possible profit, and has never taken anyone's money from them.