Missing your point about Steam. I have the same thing. Bears no relevance on the piracy discussion.
You claimed that those who say piracy isn't theft are rationalizing stealing. I have no reason to rationalize it because I pay for games. That was my point.
I'm pretty sure if you "copy" documents from a CIA server, someone will be knocking on your door. If you "borrow" a car and return it, you're still going to jail. If you pirate a video game, movie, or music, yes, you are committing a felony.
If I borrow a car, the owner is deprived of the car for the duration, it might be damaged during my joy ride, and I am introducing wear and tear that would not otherwise be there. If I build an exact copy of someone's car and then drive away with it, I've done no harm to anyone.
People that steal games then bitch about the state of the industry are like people that don't vote, but go all in on the Occupy Movement. Hypocrites. As anyone can tell you, if a studio doesn't generate titles that bring in sufficient revenue to stay around, they will die (See: Looking Glass). Super-easy relationship between the two.
I agree with everything you've said in this paragraph. I just disagree on the line you've drawn and the connection between piracy and theft. If you equate piracy as theft, you're playing into industry propaganda that says 1 pirated copy = 1 lost sale. You're letting them frame the debate, and you're making it easier for them to push harmful DRM and policies of censorship.
Make no mistake, violating DCMA/copyright/patents can result in criminal trial, they just seldom do.
And, lest you think otherwise, and here's that proof:
End of line.
Agreed, piracy with the intent to resell and profit is in fact a felony and you can be sent to prison for it. Now give me an example of someone pirating music or games for their own personal use being charged with a felony. Can you? Do you not see a difference between these two hypothetical cases? Because the law does see them differently. From the very article you linked:
Not withstanding the tough talk, the operation did not target casual downloaders. Gitarts was convicted of conspiracy to violate the NET Act (.pdf), which makes it a crime to infringe a copyright "for purposes of commercial advantage or private financial gain"; to pirate $1,000 or more in music within 180 day period; or to distribute any pirated content before its release date.