I don't get the argument that file sharing isn't hurting anyone and is actually good for business. So in that world, it's okay for me to go to work and at the end of the day the boss says, "Oh well, I'm not going to pay you for your work today. You going to give me this day for free and maybe I'll pay you for tomorrow, but I'm not promising anything."
I write for a living. I don't have a second job. This is my job and it is a REAL job. That's how I take care of my family. As an author, I do give away some of my books. I donate to libraries and book clubs. I help out readers who want a book, but can't afford it right now. People lend my print books to each other and that's okay. Maybe if they read one, they'll buy another. I also participate in the lending program with my ebooks. Someone can buy an ebook and lend it to a friend for 14 days. So, yes, I am giving away my work, but it is my choice. It is not my choice when someone downloads a whole book and gives it away for free online or worse, sells it. Lending a print book to your group of friends or lending an ebook for a limited number of days is one thing, making my work available to millions is theft.
There is enough free music, literature, art, etc. online without it being necessary to steal, and yes that is exactly what it is. I offer free short stories and other writing that I am happy to see shared. Many other artists do the same and more. Do I hope that generates some book sales? Yes, it's called marketing. I am in a small market genre where every sale counts. I have friends who are independent film makers in this same small market. Everyone loves their latest movie so much that they download it onto YouTube, all the while demanding better and more movies in this genre. How is an independent film company going to stay in business if fans keep giving away their movies for free, forcing them to beg for donations to give the fans what they want?
None of us in this genre are making money hand over fist like the big boy publishers or movie producers. We are not millionaires from some far off fantasyland. We are your neighbors, friends, colleagues, working at a job just like you. I doubt any of us put all this blood, sweat, and tears into our art for the money. We do it because we are driven to create, but we still have to eat, keep a roof over our heads, and pay the expenses for producing that art. Bottom line, everyone deserves to be paid for the work they do. So, as I stated, I don't understand the logic of, "I'm doing you a favor by sharing your hard work to the world. You should thank me. I'm generating fans for you." I'm sorry, but a real fan supports the artist by paying for the art, so that the artist can continue to be creative. Art is and always has been dependent on its patrons to survive.
File sharing is theft. If it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck... well, you know the rest. Really, thanks for the offer to distribute my work and generate fans, but no thanks. That's my job and my responsibility, not yours. If I choose to work all day and not expect to be paid, that is my decision and my right, not yours. I agree that giving the government control over what is and isn't available online is unwise, but then we must govern ourselves. Do not share copyrighted material. Do not stand silently by while your friends and family members do it. Govern yourselves people or the government is going to do it for you. If you see my novels being offered on an unauthorized site, I would appreciate an email - (firstname.lastname@example.org) - and I'm sure my fellow artist would too.
PS. If you're thinking it's easy to get a file pulled down after someone loads it on a site, you are sadly mistaken. The ISPs are uncooperative and simply ignore anything but a legal attack, which again cost me money. If you think that's fair, by all means, share away. If you have a conscience, think before you click - it could mean your favorite artist can keep creating one more day.
Now, I shall consume chocolate, because Harry Potter says it calms you down.