|When you steal a physical object, that object must be replaced, often at the expense of the owner.|
When you pirate something digital, there's nothing to be replaced. No money is lost.
No money lost? I know what you are saying, but it does money to make them products and if they don't sell (Because everyone is pirating) they don't make the money back that was invested and money is lost and a lot of it.
So you are saying that if lets say 50% of a games buyers decide to pirate the game that the owner (The studio which made that game) is not losing out on anything? That just isn't true. Billions of dollars annually is being lost because of this problem and that money just isn't growing off trees. Just because the business doesn't have to spend money right then and their to replace a copy of it doesn't mean it isn't incurring a expense.
I will go back to the game studio example. They don't make money by buying up product and selling at a markup. Instead of putting money into inventory they are putting money into a future product. Developers, artists, managers, sound technicians, ect. don't come cheap and by the time a project is usually finished that have a good amount of time and money invested.
They use the money made from the sales of that game to get out of that debt and turn a profit. If a large portion of their user base decided that pirating is acceptable they wouldn't turn a profit and their investors/backers are out money.
Either way there is a expense to the owner (The studio, investor, or whatever) in both situations (Physical and digital).
I also don't really wanna get into the whole well them people might not have bought the game if it wasn't free in the first place because the same is true of stealing it in it's physical form (Which we consider bad but not pirating). If I walk into Walmart and say "Well you know I would never get that game unless it was free so you know it is okay that I steal it." how would that turn out?
It might be true that they might not have bought the game in the first place but that doesn't somehow justify the act itself.