That is a much more reasoned response... now I'm interested :)
You make a good point with regards to the severity of punishment for certain ages of people. I definitely agree with you that current modes of enforcement do take things to far, especially with the current shakedown approach being taken by the RIAA. But, as a parent, it is your responsibility definitely at that stage to react appropriately to your kid doing this type of thing. If they have no income, then it really isn't a problem yet. If they have a steady income, and are simply pirating because they don't want to pay, there is potentially a discussion that needs to be had about the fairness of exchange. Again, as you are correct in identifying, no external body will have an idea of the appropriate response here.
So, I am happy to concede age as something that affects what happens. However.... if you are a 20yro with a steady job... perhaps the situation is different. If you are a 30yro with a steady job, the situation is very different. At this point... you *have* the means to buy these things legally if you made paying a priority (e.g., go out drinking one less weekend). You are 100% correct in that in my younger days I pirated heaaps of things. But, at some point I grew up and realised that I needed to pay people to encourage more production of things that I like.
This, to me, is why piracy is not a defensible thing. Yes, there are mitigating factors as you've pointed out (they are all good points by the way... thanks for taking the time to share them). Yes, the current legal response is just ludicrous. But... even a 15yro should be taught by someone (e.g., parents) that if you never contribute back to things you like, then those things will stop being made. And for a 30yro, piracy is a deliberate and willful choice, and they deserve some type of punishment for choosing to recognise this important social contract.
Also just to clarify, I said contribute back... so if perhaps the pirates found something useful to do in return...? This is one of the reason free2play games are good value in my opinion. Most free2play allow people to be community/opponents/teammates etc., which is actually contributing to the success of the game in the long run. Maybe more software and/or music could do things like this? If you don't have money to contribute... perhaps you can contribute time and energy instead?