Here's what i have to say, and by no means do i declare it ethical. I have never, will never, and hope no one else here shoplifts from stores. I do find it a lot worse to steal physically from stores for a couple reasons, which i don't have time to explain now. I find that stealing via torrent or whatever else is not exactly going out of your way and it is too tempting to pass up. Stealing in general is not right but I'd much rather be known as an internet pirate than a office max thief or something to that idea. As a young person without a job i do believe there is a bigger temtation to do this. I have told myself that once i have an actual full time job i will begin to stop piracy all together. All in all i don't feel good about torrenting stuff but there arent a whole lot of other options. It's hard to take a stance on something you disagree with but go ahead and do it.
But i do agree with small shareware stuff like dtm said.
EDIT: I do know one person who has bought CS2 and i personally have bought Adpbe Elements.
Well, the difference is obviously that when stealing over the Internet the media/disc/... isn't taken from someone so compared to a store the "box" would remain in the store and they could still sell it.
But the price of a dvd in a paperbox or a movie in a case in a store, the production cost for each additional one that is, is probably near to none so you could almost just as good steal the product from a store instead.
What you do pay for is the information on the media, whatever it's software, music or movies. If noone pays a lot of developers/artists/actors will stop with their work and there won't be so much software, music or movies.
So I would say if you really want the product and think it would be worth something for you, buy it, atleast if the price is reasonable.
I can understand if someone who just wanna resize images installes Photoshop CS2 without paying thought, the task they will do with it isn't advanced enough/worth paying $1000.
In the case for Windows atleast I don't wanna run it, all I need it for is running some apps which might not be available in another OS I use, and in the end that is all Microsofts monopoly fault so
I wanna pay for OS X since it will give me a UNIX without all the trouble, and that is worth plenty to me.
I'm less torn than others, but there is a little tear. I dislike it period and wish it just wouldn't happen. There are many kinds of software piracy (and this came from Micrososft's pages):
End-User Copying: When users copy software without appropriate licensing for each copy. I think we've all been guilty of this at some time or another. Most of the time, though, companies don't want to try and find someone who made a copy for the desktop and one for the laptop (it's only when you install like 23895670245 copies that someone will find you). This is one of the biggest arguments that will present itself here in terms of how much is really tolerable to the software industry and to end users.
Hard-Disk Loading: Practiced by dishonest computer system builders who sell PCs with illicit software preinstalled. Dealers use one legally acquired copy illegally for installation on many machines. Much worse than End-User, and I think we can all agree this shouldn't be tolerated.
Counterfeiting: Software piracy on a grand scale, in which software and its packaging is illegally duplicated, often by organized crime rings, then redistributed as supposedly legal products. Again, bad bad bad, and I think we can all agree on this one too.
Online: This form of piracy occurs when copyrighted software is downloaded by a user connected via a modem to the Internet without the express permission of the copyright owner. This would cover warez sites also, and it presents itself with a problem also. As we all know full screen in QuickTime is only available as a Pro ($29.95) option. Most users only want that one feature, as video editing is done in iMovie or Final Cut. Why pay for just one feature when poor, innocent Dawn M. Fredette gave away her QuickTime Pro serial number for everyone to use? This is especially sticky when you're only using one feature of said software.
License Misuse: Software distributed under special discount licenses, either to high-volume customers, computer manufacturers, or academic institutions, that is then redistributed to others who do not hold or qualify for these licenses. This one has a lot of subsets and is well opened to debate also.
If I am allowed to say what I think about all those cases I would say:
Ok enough, atleast you have bought the software, you probably doesn't use both machines at the same time, and so on.
Stealing someone else work and profiting from it! Bad!
Look above, bad!
I have a harder time with this one, as I said before if you only have "limited intrest", would never buy the software if there was no copy available, only do it because you can, and so on, I think it's reasonable ok.
So if there are some game which cost $100 which you will probably only play for 2 hours, then I think it's quite ok. If it's stuff like Final Cut and you will just add a title for your digital camera video, I to think it's ok.
But if you work professionally with FC or are a dedicated gamer or really want to run OS X I think you should show your support and pay for it.
As bad as 2 and 3.