This was the second half of my reply to PaulC’s comment on my previous Pirate Bay post, but I thought it was an interesting enough thought to warrant it’s own post instead.
Taking something that doesn't belong to you is called theft. Thieves can be sympathetic individuals with all kinds of potential motivation. They could be nice guys with no job and eight kids. Stealing bread makes me a thief, because I took your stuff.
Declaring the unjustness of the government and saying "we're not English anymore" is called rebellion (not revolution). A rebel can also be sympathetic, depending on his motivation. A rebellion can be started "because taxation without representation isn't fair" or because a bunch of guys who want to be the new aristocracy want to stir up the public to make it happen (hmmmmm...). Saying "I don't live by your rules anymore" makes me a rebel.
The dissemination of intellectual property without compensation to its originator is not called "theft." It's not called "rebellion." It's called "piracy." Pirate = bad. There's no ambiguity. Pirates are drunkards and rapists who take what they want and will probably kill you to get it. They are motivated by greed 100% of the time. Making a backup copy of a movie to which I have bought the right to view makes me a pirate. Removing the copy protection from a computer game so I don't have to swap CDs every ten minutes makes me a pirate.
So because I'm guilty of what ought to be considered a "white-collar" crime (but I'm not taking anyone's money, no one’s life is being ruined because of me, and I don't drive a Porsche), I'm the same as those guys who hi-jacked that boat a couple months ago. I guess that makes sense, since they killed a bunch of people and stole a bunch of stuff, and I... killed a lot of... time. And I stole... umm... nothing. And I hurt... nobody. But because the government is a slave to the MAFIAA (their real name), who wants me to shell out fifty bucks every time I scratch a disc, I'm a pirate. I guess I should feel lucky they're not calling me an "intellectual property rapist."