It bears standing that if someone used their time, effort, knowledge, and resources to develop any of this media, they'd like to be compensated when someone wants it. Who could fault them? None among us can say we don't want to be compensated for our efforts, barring labors of love. However, I can't say that it's fair to lay the protection of Intellectual Property on consumers. What is the incentive to consumers? What is their moral obligation? If a thief steals from a storefront, we do not lay the responsibility for the theft at the feet of another patron - but the owner may be grateful if this patron chose to intervene.
A producer that leaves their Intellectual Property unprotected may be within their rights to object to the methods of it's distribution, just as I may be within my rights to object to someone using my unlocked front door without my consent. The burden of protecting my home from entry fell on me, and I chose not to exercise my ability. Whether the invasive entry was right or wrong, I forfeited a reasonable, and perfectly acceptable ability to prevent it.
- My forklift training card comes with the disclaimer that I've only completed a course, and that my competence in operation isn't endorsed.
- My dish soap's label advises me not to add bleach
Who would enforce this, if not government? The producer, and whoever said producer chooses to aid in the defense of the property in question.
But doesn't that warning describe an unreasonable fine and imprisonment term? Yes, that's the strong arm of Government (financed by the victims), not the producer.
What stops the Producer from imposing such a penalty, or a worse penalty? Who can say definitively? We haven't had a private sector Intellectual Property defense. Cultural norms, peer review, and the cost of enforcement would likely prevent anything outrageous. Why spend millions of dollars to incarcerate hundreds or thousands of "pirates"at a cost to the producer? It's cutting off your nose to spite your face.
You've just pleaded a case for a corporation having incentive to harm or murder several someones. I challenge you to name one private enterprise that has gained from thinning it's market share, fatally at that. Enterprises that enjoy the boon of government connections and protections do not count, and only plead my point.
Nothing about a printed agreement prevents action that violates said agreement, that's how violations of law happen today. That's called life in all relationships, personal and commercial. The point of this is who shields the burden. Right now, it's a little bit of the consumer and the government - everyone except the party invested in protection.
Edit: Whoa. I wrote this without realizing that there had been a lengthy discussion about it on Bionic Mosquito's page. This post was spurned as a challenging question on another libertarian site.