All of these types of media have generated piracy hysteria, and lots of legal maneuvering (lobbying, EULAs, lawsuits, prosecutions, you name it) by the people who's work could be copied with them... or by the organizations who "represent" them. Nobody seems to have a problem with saying "screw the MPAA" (or the RIAA), and as far as I can tell it's because these organizations seem like a racket. They're screwing your favorite artist on one end, and the fans on the other (while bagging some of your freedoms while nobody's looking)... Fine, so they're not the most sympathetic charactatures, but don't they have a point in here somewhere?
Look at software- no one can deny that piracy is rampant... The rationalizations are that the pirate copies generate "buzz" and let people "try out" the software before they buy it. Also there's a theory that people who pirate copies would not buy them, and vice versa, so no harm no foul, eh? There's ample evidence to support the opinion that piracy is good or bad, depending on how you twist your statistics, but let's take a step back and ask this: can it be stopped? Just looking at the computer and gaming console software markets, any sane person would have to say no. You can download Dreamcast GD-ROMs and Word 2000 from the net. The net will make quick work of any "copy protection," too, offering a little utility to disable it, or as many working "product keys" as you can imagine.
Despite efforts from very early on, software companies have been completely unable to stop piracy... What they have done, for the most part, is put up some minimal barriers (like "copy protection"), accept some level of piracy, and force it underground. This seems to work- there's lots of money to be made in software nowadays.
With VCRs the MPAA took much the same approach. Of course, they're analog, so you can't make perfect serial copies, but they also use Macrovision on tapes and DVDs- "breakable" if you get an electronics magazine and are handy with a soldering iron, but this is not something your "average joe" is going to do.
Enter DeCSS+MPEG-4 and MP3. Here are digital formats that can make perfect serial copies. Granted, they are not "as good" as the original- they're compressed to fit through our current digital pipes, but they are pretty good and our pipes (and disks) will only get bigger. This scares the bejesus out of the MPAA and RIAA for obvious reasons... It must have dawned on them that, if the software people could not stop piracy with "copy protection" alone, they'd need to do more. I am, quite honestly, blown away with the success they've had with lobbying. Granted they've probably spent a fortune, but the DMCA is amazing. Aside from the DAT tax the RIAA managed to get, I don't think any other piece of special-interest legislation has ever been so succeessful.
But, pretend we're in an alternate universe where the MPAA, RIAA and record labels as we know them don't exist (ahhh... doesn't that feel good?). In this universe, you can download songs for $.50 a pop, or movies for, say, $2, and the artists get 90% of it (the rest going to cover bandwidth and production costs, and a thin slice to the movie or record company). Enter Napster and movie trading. Everyone likes to say "I would support the artist, but I don't want to support the $#%@'s who actually are making the money now," but if we take them out of the equation, does Napster go unused? Somehow, I doubt it. What if Napster instead focuses on distributing ISOs of computer software and cracks, does it survive it's first day in court?
My point here is that the details of these powerful organizations make it easy for the geek community to label them as the "bad guys"... I think we need to worry about ourselves, and the big picture, a little here, too. After all, what happens if Napster wins and there's no longer any monetary incentive for musicians to make new albums or production companies to make new films? Does everything shift back to live performance? What happens when we're downloading bootleg vidoes of those with dolby 5.1 surround sound?
I don't think anyone knows the "right answer", but I don't think either extreme of the zealot spectrum will be good for anyone in the end.