It's a question of creator's choice
Let's all just come down to earth for a minute. And take a deep breath.
As with all debates tagged 'digital' 'music' and 'piracy', this one needs a bit of context.
For me, the key issues are not copyright versus creative commons or 'corporate oligarchies' versus the 'mash-up masses'.
These are artificial battle lines, usually drawn by digital ideologues. It's black or it's white. Or, in the immortal words of George W Bush: 'You're either with us, or against us.'
Ideologues tend to shoehorn exceptions into rules. Which is fantastic for the purpose of theorising, debate and the general production of hot air, but of less practical value back here on Planet Earth where things tend to be a bit more complex. As Aleks rightly notes, the fly in the ointment for digital utopians occurs when human beings enter the equation.
For me, the burning issue - and this is equally relevant to newspapers, games, TV, film makers, authors and software manufacturers as it is to music - is how creative individuals can commercially reconcile their activities both online and offline.
Both are vital. Most artists need to sell CDs and downloads, they need to play live, their music needs to be distributed to a huge variety of digital stores, they need a web presence, they need to be played on radio and they need to be marketed to 'traditional' media. And on and on.
They also need time and space to create.
This is a balancing act.
Ideally, the emerging digital market can complement existing incomes, which in a lot of cases are meagre enough, and not completely displace them. As seen with the likes of Spotify and We7, the music business is working with tech companies to develop sustainable music 'businesses' (as opposed to unsustainable music 'services') that incentivise creator and fan alike, as well as everybody in between. Like the other IP-based businesses above, music must continually evolve and respond to customer demand.
Of course, some artists are doing pretty well in reconciling online and offline activities - witness the growing list of 'heritage' acts reconnecting on comeback tours with their old fanbase - but it's an awful lot of balls to keep juggling, particularly for an emerging artist.
Creativity is not confined to an online vacuum. Most songwriters, composers, artists and musicians don't make distinctions as to where their creative labours will be heard and enjoyed. They don't care if it's on download or vinyl, via terrestrial radio or online stream. They simply create. (Although most like to get paid and have a keen interest in how their music is presented.)
Copyright allows this. It encourages creativity and offers the creator freedom of choice. (Want to sign to a music company? Strike a sponsorship deal with a brand? Give your music away for free? Copyright gives you the option...)
It also offers the creator a degree of moral rights as to how their work is used.
How this is exercised is very much down to the individual.
Working on the proviso that one person's meat is another's poison, each individual artist will have their own personal take as to what is 'permissible'.
Many will encourage fans to post clips to social network sites or give away the odd track in exchange for an email address (and let's face it, 'unsigned' artists have always given their work away for 'free', usually in the form of a demo). However, a line will probably be drawn when it comes to an unlicensed Russian website selling their work or if it's appropriated by a political group whose views they fundamentally disagree with.
This is a 'horses for courses' scenario. But, for me, the creator should always retain the opportunity to decide.
One final thought, in getting hung up on side issues, we potentially miss the elephant in the room: quality. The potential of digital distribution is great, but fundamentally our business is still focussed on the pursuit of great music, great songs, great entertainment and great art.
Whether online or offline, this is what draws a crowd.
If we lose sight of that, we lose everything.