Fred Wilson exposes the truth about piracy — all too often it’s about convenience rather than money. Many people download illegally or watch pirated streams because it’s the easiest (or frequently, only) way to get the content they’re after rather than because it’s saving them a buck or two. Sports is a great example — I am a huge University of Houston fan, and often the only way to see their football games where I live is to find illegal streams online. I’d gladly pay, but there is no legitimate way to see them. That’s a pretty huge market failure.
On a related note, I agree with Matthew Yglesias that piracy isn’t even the appropriate term for this sort of thing.
Update: Every company that makes money selling access to content that can be digitized, whether it’s software, movies, television shows, music, or live performances, should organize a contest for employees to go out and find the most convenient method to get a copy of whatever it is they sell, through legal or illegal means. The only rules should be that the means should be available to the public, and they could stipulate that cost is not an object. I think most would be shocked to find that perhaps outside the world of software and music, the contestants who use illegitimate means would win the race almost every time.
Update: Here’s a post from music site Bandcamp that gets at what I was saying.