On a whim, I did a search for posts that I've made on this subject and came up with a bunch in just a few minutes, beginning in 2003 and the most recent being here: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=18823
I put the rest on a page here: http://www.goladus.com/copyright.html (Basically random greppings from various forum threads in the past 4 years, They aren't proofread very well)
When I said "Copying software is stealing", I was incorrect. What I meant to express was "Copying software is wrong if you can afford to buy it". There's something morally wrong about taking someone's hard work against their wishes and giving it away for free. I don't know what to call it, but don't you at least agree it is wrong?
When framed this way, debate can be about the validity of the copyright or intellectual property rather than whether "stealing" is OK. The colonial "copyright" on salt was clearly not justified; a copyright on "one-click" purchases seems silly; the copyright on the Office 2007 ribbon seems more justified. In any case the debate is focussed on what it should be.
I'm fine with renaming the act, but I have no idea what to call it. Do you have a suggestion? Just "illegal copying" perhaps?
Also, do you feel the law should punish the act as if someone had shoplifted an item of equivalent value, or some other punishment? I'm worried that if the punishment is a fine, people might risk it anyway because the chance of getting caught seems so small in peer to peer networks.
In any case, copyright was not established to help companies like Warner or Scholastic---in fact, it was originally designed to protect authors from having large corporations distribute their stuff without paying authors anything, as opposed to today's model, in which companies pay authors relatively little.
The "real" reality is that what is right is exactly what the people in power say is right. If you believe something is right, but the people in power believe differently, all you can do is gather the power to make it right. That is what Ghandhi did, even though he did it without using weapons. But being able to convince enough people to support your cause is a form of power, too.
There is no god given right to own intellectual property, or any other property for that matter, people can own it only because society as a whole allows them to. If there is no society/police to enforce your rights, all you can do is sit tight in your house with the shotgun ready. You might still be able to defend your property. But that is because you have a shotgun, not because the property belongs to you.
People chose to organize in societies and accept property rights because they think it benefits everybody. As soon as it does not benefit somebody, there is no reason for that person to go on supporting property rights (but the "benefits me" equation should factor in things like jail).
He didn't rule out that there might be some situation where a government-enforced exclusive right might be appropriate.
I've added an update clarifying this.
 There are two kinds of ownership: By law, and by adverse possession. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adverse_possession
If I copy paulgraham.com and post all his essays, claim they are my own, and then try to sue him for infringement, I'm trying to steal his intellectual property.
If I copy some of his essays without his permission, I've infringed.on some of the exclusive rights granted by law. I'm not stealing.
If you define "stealing" as "preventing another from determining the use of his property", then you aren't right.
In a private property system, property rules are organized around the idea that various contested resources are assigned to the decisional authority of particular individuals (or families or firms) http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/property/
...In short, it is a matter of "use" (decision) rather than possession. A copyright indisputably is owned by all creators unless surrendered. But the copyright itself codifies control over a work, and thus is not that which is lost but that which proves loss in matters of IP violations.
"Stealing a portion of an owner's exclusive copyrights," isn't generally the message being sent when someone talks about "stealing music" or "stealing software."
I agree the dictionary is not the right place to look, however I disagree that legal lexicons are much more helpful. I think the issue here is the general metaphor used by regular people to communicate these ideas with each other.