Theft, or stealing is the act of taking something such that the previous owner is deprived of its use. And the only way Internet piracy could fall into this definition is if you consider the money that might have changed hands for genuine product. I say might because it's reasonable, in my experience at least (and I believe there are independent studies to back this up too,) to consider that many people pirate that which they would not pay for at any price; you would have to prove that they would have paid had they not pirated for a theft conviction to reasonably stick, tricky even if true.
OK....say you contact a plumber to install some taps...which he does....but you do not pay him.
Do we call that 'theft', 'fraud', 'breach of contract', or just plain 'being an arsehole'? ['you' may also never have intended to pay him at all].
Then....equating it with that downloaded 'content' you'd otherwise never actually BUY ....where's the difference?
Either way, a service/product has been obtained without appropriate payment/consent.
"might" doesn't enter the equation. The facts are self-evident....you have something you have no contractual/legal title to, which, when obtained legally results in a profit/income to the legal owner/vendor/tradesman.
This has already been tested and proven....years ago [about 20, as I recall]. The copyright 'thief' was sued for the value of lost profit to the copyright holder...in this case around $60,000 AUD....[it was an Architectural copyright]....
Ok, so if stealing software is the same as stealing a service, or physical item. Then according to your own logic, rules that apply to physical goods (selling stuff that is defective/broken, etc) should apply to those in the digital realm.
In other words, if downloading software illegally is on par with lets say stealing a car. Then there should also be some grounds to take action on my part if they sell me software that doesn't work, or is defective in some way, in a similar way to what they would do if you bought a car, and the dealership didn't put an engine in it (even though you paid for a car with an engine).
If any of the laws pertaining to real goods/services are applied to those in the digital realm, then all of them should apply, not just the convenient ones.
I dont support piracy, but i believe that if the theft of virtual goods is going to be punishable in a way similar to the theft of real goods, then the laws made to protect consumers should also apply to virtual goods.
And while i believe that catching pirates is important, that personal security is even more important. And that monitoring my net traffic should be akin to wiretapping, and there should be laws to protect our privacy in the digital realm.