Does Music Piracy Really Dwarf Bank Robbery?

The Songwriters Guild of America recently released a statement about how damaging music piracy is, and how law enforcement needs to work harder to combat it. Ars Technica excerpts and explains why the Guild thinks file-sharing is worse than bank robbery:

"There are numerous economic crimes of much lesser magnitude (such as bank robbery) that are routinely and fully investigated, for which law enforcement agencies such as the FBI have significant resources," complains the Guild ( pdf ). "By contrast, online copyright piracy dwarfs bank robbery in causing economic losses, yet the FBI has limited criminal investigative interest and no civil mandate whatsoever to pursue this devastating economic harm. This inequity must change."

The Guild demands that the Department of Justice make criminal prosecutions of "willful copyright infringement" a higher priority; right now, the issue is not classed as a "serious" crime. "Unfortunately, this misguided attitude allows domestic and foreign pirates to decimate an industry—intellectual property—where the United States enjoys a true global competitive advantage," says the group.

That's a clever pitch, though I imagine that law enforcement gets more bang for its buck by going after bank robbers—and protecting against them. Andrew recently noted how difficult it is to make money by making music ; it's clearly all the more difficult if no one pays for your stuff.

Should the Department of Justice place prosecutions of file-sharing and piracy higher up on its list of priorities? Do you pay for the music you hear?