People can expect compensation and not get anywhere (see OP), especially if they publish content (they absurdly think it can be made accessible to everyone but not be copied - heck, we still copy content today that was published thousands of years ago!). Or they can build something that is useful with no such expectations and sometimes they will be rewarded anyway.
If I had stuck to expecting compensation for every hour of work, I'd now be very likely stuck in a dull job somewhere ...
We're confused because you appeared to contradict yourself.
Besides... the point you're not getting is that the content is copied because people value it. No one is digging and filling holes pointlessly and expecting compensation for useless "work". We're talking about content that is created that other people like and use.
The difference between what you did and kept your compensation for vs what content creators do that they don't get compensated for is a matter of the proper protection via laws and technologies.
While I would agree that maybe technology-wise it's a losing battle - legally and ethically, saying that the world would be better off if these people would produce what others want for free is problematic.
I think the problem is we are typesetting at all. By typesetting I mean for the printed page. Most of the result is PDF which is then emailed around. It's a PITA to write, a PITA to generate, a PITA to distribute, and then a PITA to read.
For the one percent (perhaps) of the documents which really end up on paper, I guess LaTeX is fine. Or Word. Who cares?
The web was supposed to free us from the over-design of glossy magazines and Madison Avenue bullshit. Content was supposed to be king. So forgive us if we are a little bitter that it turned into just another high gloss magazine.
I wouldn't say it is easier (or harder), I would say it is different. Before you were having to remember lots of tricks to fit as much information into as little memory as possible. Today we have lots more stuff to remember. Operating systems are way more complex.
At the end of the day, most people are programming at a far higher level, so things are more productive. I have produced a reasonably sophisticated databases / web front end for my work, in Django as a one man team. Ten years ago I believe that it would have taken far more man hours to achieve the same thing. I don't have to remember tricks to compress data, as disk space is cheap now. I do have to know reasonably advanced SQL, and remember a lot about how Django works.
Most new students have seen a text editor before (like Notepad or Microsoft word). They are used to things like using the arrow keys for navigation (instead of HJKL), not having to switch modes, and using the mouse to manipulate text. There are plenty of serviceable programmers' text editors which follow these idioms. Better to let students use something familiar so you can focus on the actual subject (programming) and not frustrate them with learning a completely different set of keyboard shortcuts.