You can examine all the free and shareware content you like but you won't find games like I mentioned above or movies like the million-dollar hits that come out of Hollywood. If freeware/shareware games were so good they'd be in the Top 10 lists, but I don't recall seeing any there and I don't expect it anytime in the near future. Those top-notch games/movies/software take a lot of time and money to develop. If piracy becomes rampant (no checks at all, legal. social, or otherwise) and sales decrease enough then the quality of the games/movies/software will decrease as well.
I agree completely that many business models have to change. I'm a consumer just like everyone else and I'm not rich, either. I'd like to see prices come down, too. But I'm not sure I'm willing to pay so much less that the entertainment value is adversely affected in the future. Others may be happy playing 20 different "OK" games but I prefer 3-4 good ones. Ten 'B' movies doesn't make one Top 100 movie.
InRe "Non-sequitur": I've been a pirate (ancient history, now) but my buddies and I never once fooled ourselves into believing we weren't doing something wrong. I'm not so sure about today's pirates - and maybe that's part of the problem?
But least you miss the other point I've been making - screwing over everybody to stop piracy isn't the answer, either. And as far as I know even the best of the best geeks can't figure a way to stop it without doing just that.