> No, the value of the "cat" is the value in keeping the exclusive right to distribute the music. ...
> Damages aren't for the song itself, but the destruction of that right.
Such perceive damages must be measured with real-world losses.
Losses measured in money,
or Losses (from the constitutional copyright perspective) measured in loss of new art or innovation.
If you were to argue on principle alone, then note that the "exclusive right" (as defined by the US constitution) is not defined in reference to profits. The temporary exclusive copyright was created to encourage art, science and innovation.
> However, once people have a choice between "obtain music for money" and "obtain same music for free", very few will choose the pay option.
If there is a choice between:
1. Legitimate unencumbered music for sale at reasonable price, online at a well known location.
2. Unauthorized copies for free (or for sale cheap) on hard to find, disappearing, unreliable online sites.
Most people choose (1). Those that choose (2) would likely not purchase on (1) even if (2) was not available.
It is very difficult to sell a song with no exposure. Very few will buy a song or CD that they have never heard. In the past, people got exposure via the radio, or by word of mouth (along with a tape copy of the song).
The world is different now. Trying to fight the internet, to keep all cats in all bags, is foolish, uneffective, and expensive (both with the cost of such investigation, and with the costs of privacy rights needed to sacrifice to allow such a global personal investigation). Rather than holding on to the pre-internet business model, new business models must form that work with the nature of the internet.