- It stinks that people make money off someone else's work.
- Traditional media has been crap at making stuff readily available online at reasonable cost.
- For me, music downloads are a great try-before-you-buy method - but not everyone as ethical as I am in terms of getting rid of the stuff they have no intention of purchasing.
- DRM is a fucking PITA - it doesn't stop piracy (obviously!), it increases costs, it restricts portability of the media, and it restricts media to those who possess the correct hardware or software for the DRM to work. That's the reason I won't use something like iTunes.
- If you don't support the artists, eventually they will stop making art.
- Most e-copies (especially of books) are ridiculously over-priced. I shouldn't have to pay the same for a e-version as I do for the actual media.
- A lot of people download free stuff that can't be obtained otherwise (in other words, it's not available for purchase, in an e-version or the original).
There is some movement underway in audio media, with sites like Magnatunes and Deutsche Grammophon modelling a new way of selling music. Acts like Metallica have amply demonstrated the idiocy of bitching about file-sharing without providing an alternative distribution source.
Regarding e-books, I also proposed an "online lending-library" on the SBTB site (since one criticism of the illegal downloaders (of the many) was that they could read books for free at the library). Living in a city with a frankly crap library system, I can certainly see the limits of that thinking. However, a place that puts a big and broad selection of books online could be a winner. As a subscriber, you could purchase "book tokens" that entitle you to read, say, 10 books online for $5. Once you've "activated" a book you want to read, you have 30 days to read it (although maybe some kind of method of temporarily suspending your access to a book during that period, and then picking up where you left off could be useful). More popular books could require more tokens to "rent". Links should be provided to allow subscribers to purchase (non-DRM'd!) copies for permanent use. If you purchase a book, your reading token could be re-credited. Naturally, suitable royalties and costs would return to the author and the publisher (if the publisher isn't doing it themselves, which would be stupid for the large houses).
Can I imagine a publisher doing this in the near future? No, unfortunately. Baen is the only major publisher I'm aware of that makes an effort to make e-books cheap and appealing (with lots of free downloads). Since that model certainly hasn't seemed to have hurt them, it'd be nice if more publishers saw the light.