Piracy is a controversial issue, and I think it's very interesting talk about it from different perspectives. So here is mine.
I live in Spain, one of the most "pirate countries" in Europe. In Spain, by law, you have the right to copy audiovisual stuff (books, movies and music, but NOT software) for free, for your own private use (this also includes friends and relatives). That's why we pay an special tax "for private copy" when we buy a blank CD, or a CD recorder, or a scanner, printer, etc. On the other side, our own RIAA's (here SGAE and CEDRO) pressure and criminalize people for copying/downloading stuff. That's not fair, since we are already paying a tax to do that.
Why do we have this "curious" law here? Because movies books and music are CULTURE, and everyone should be able to access it regardless how poor/rich you are. Furthermore, copying/sharing stuff is something everyone does and it's no sense to criminalize all the population.
Now, think about one thing: money. Here the minimum wage is about 585€. For that money you can't even afford to pay the rent for a small flat (you'd have to share a small appartment with at least 2 or 3 more poeple). I'm gonna be generous and let's say that the rent for a shared apparment costs 200€ (actually it's more about 300€, but well...). So 585-200 = 385€ you have to buy food, clothes, bus tickets and so on. A new music CD costs 18€, that's aprox. 4.8% of your remaining money. What happens then? People with minimum wage (teenagers, young people...) can't afford to buy lots of CD's (maybe just 1 per month).
With all that above I mean it's easy to criminalize piracy when you live in a country where the minimun wage is about 1300€ (France, for instance). Also, in USA or even the UK music CD's and books are not that expensive, so circumstances are different there.