There is a whole lot of recent psychological research that shows that humans (though not chimpanzees) have a strongly developed sense of fairness. In particular, if they see someone trying to get more than they deserve, they will extract revenge (Google "ultimatum game" for details).
Now, consider the situation of the RIAA and MPAA
- The marginal cost of distributing the content -- that is, the cost of one additional unit -- is very close to zero, so any gains from that may be seen as unfair.
- There is no violence involved in the "theft"
- The victim of the "theft" is not an individual but a corporation, an abstract entity that exists only as a legal convenience. These folks aren't mugging grandmothers.
- There is a long and elaborately developed popular wisdom -- which may well have considerable basis in reality -- that most of the money in the entertainment industry goes to assorted corporate sleazeballs who spend their lives ripping off artists, so the individuals truly responsible for the creative content get ripped off either way. Notice that we have a writers' strike? And happy campers who just love industry contracts such as Prince?
None of which favors the industry in the "fairness" category. Add the fact that unlike the Ultimatum Game, the individuals inflicting the "punishment" actually derive some small benefit from their actions, and the likelihood that the RIAA and MPAA will succeed in the long run is pretty close to nil, though like any wounded monster they will do plenty of damage in the process of going out of existance. But similarly, the idea that the demise of IP -- or more specifically, IP as it has been defined in just the past ten years or so -- means the collapse of civilization as we know it is equally misguided.