Progressive taxation is taxation graduated to a person's ability to pay. If you have a lot of money, then you pay more. That's the point, I think. People who have more time than money are exactly those people who can't pay US $500.00 for Photoshop or $500.00 for 35 CDs. These are the people who pirate. As you get older and make more money, you can afford to buy it and you like the convenience and a good conscience, so you buy it.
People thought nothing of making mix tapes in the 80s. Those same people bought a fair share of tapes by the same artists who were on those prirated mix tapes- to the limit of their financial ability. Now those same people just buy CDs or download tunes from Apple.
What is the point of cracking down on the poor? Spending all that time on lawyers and courts and jail and the enforcement of fines and witnesses and forensic experts and in the end creating millions (as the RIAA would have it) of people whose fines are so high, they're economic basket cases for life- no longer able to contribute to society and the larger economy?
Why should society spend those resources just because an industry can't figure out a viable economic model for their goods and services?
If you don't want people to pirate, then you just need to calm down on your pricing scheme.
The majority or people are genetically engineered to want to get along in society and follow norms- that's why there IS a society, not because there's laws.
Look, think clearly: the reason, say, your neighbor doesn't sneak into your house at night, kill you and take your things isn't because there are laws against doing that.
It's because your neighbor doesn't WANT to do that. The impulse just isn't in your neighbor's heart.
If it were in your neighbor's heart, if that sort of impulse was something that the average person had to fight off by intensely reflecting on the consequences of their actions, then society wouldn't be able to stop it and we'd have all chaos, all the time. In fact, we wouldn't even have survived as a species. Some small percentage of people run afoul of the laws. Small percentage.
On the otherhand, if you charge too much for food, you'll turn everyone into a criminal. Now you're essentailly criminalizing the need to eat.
The record industry needs to take a hard look at how much money people really have. Not as much as they did in the 50s and 60s aor even 70s and 80s.
They outsourced their CD production, their marketing, their manufacturing and so did every other industry. Guess what. If you want customers you need employees. If you want to dump Americans as employees, then plan on selling into those countries whose people you are willing to employ, and at prices they can afford.
Industry has been playing a game for quite a few years called "fire your customers". The first companies to do it made a bundle. They sold to people employed by other, sucker, companies.
As more and more companies jumped ship, the standard of living of the average American and concomitant disposable income has gone down.
As disposable income goes down, the amount of discretionary income devoted to buying CDs for 17.98 goes down. Way down.
Industry in general needs to face what it's done to its own customers, and quit hankering after days gone past. If you don't employ people, you turn them into poor people. Poor people- e.g. students- steal because they have to have those things to participate in society and they can't afford them. Think developing photoshop skills.
As for music, the impulse to participate and posses is even stronger, although it's not future-job-skill based. It's driven by the need to reproduce.
Participating in what's cool, what's going on with your peers, demonstrating you can decode, complex social signals and creatively and meaningfully send those signals back, is to signal your fitness as an aware, creative, discerning and fully functioning potential mate all of whose working parts are in fine form.
It's called "youth culture", and if you're inclined to sneer at its importance, it's only because you're not young anymore.
So stealing the "now" music if you can't afford it is an absolute imperative if you're a part of a subculture that values and is united by that music, and in fact you find that students who wouldn't steal anything don't think twice about stealing THAT.
If you want to stop people from stealing, you need to price things appropriately to their income and the imperatives and pressures on them to gain access to the thing you're selling.
$17.99 is the price you can charge for a CD when you don't have Communist China acting as your jack-booted enforcer of 100 hour weeks for 12 year old girls working in your sweat-shop factories churning out your CDs and slipping the art work into sleaves.
Now that you have that, and you unemployed all your Americans, it's time to rethink your pricing scheme.