I'm aware that file-sharing of copyrighted materials is unavoidable, and unscrupulous people will find a way to steal copyrighted content no matter what efforts are taken to prevent it. People are so up-in-arms about being told how to use content they purchase the use of that they see nothing wrong with stripping the DRM from the file (assuming the author/publisher puts that encryption in place, which is useless) with one of a multitude of software choices available for doing so, and then uploading said content onto a "free digital books" site - allowing hundreds - or thousands - of people to download it.
Reality Check: According to statistics from the sites from which I could gather download numbers, Between the Lines has been downloaded illegally more times than it has been sold. A lot more. My second book was released two days ago. It, also, has been downloaded more than it's been sold. That sorta makes me want to cry. Or hit something.
My books are $2.99, people. Not $20.99. $2.99.
I pay for the cover photo, the copy editing, and the copyright, all before making any sales at all. Yes, my programming cost is "free" because my IT Department (Paul) is literally in-house... but he used 24 vacation hours to do that work for me this week. Believe me, both of us consider that something we paid for.
I spend hundreds of hours writing and revising these books. Just because it's work I like to do doesn't make it "not work." Rather than spending 20-60 hours a week at my laptop writing, researching, or editing, I could work full-time instead of part-time and increase my salary, or I could sit on my ass, reading (my favorite pastime), watching television or sleeping. I could actually use a few hundred hours of make-up sleep.
I do not have a problem with someone buying my book and then lending, giving or selling it to someone else, in the same way they could lend, give or sell a paper-based book they'd purchased. I think these things should be allowed, in fact. However, that doesn't mean it's ever okay to upload a file with a few clicks and let hundreds of people download something you paid for ONE TIME.
C'mon people. This is not rocket science. This is, in fact, very, very basic ethics.
Here's the deal. If you upload or read a copyrighted work that you got from a "free" document site, make no mistake about it, you're stealing from that author and you're breaking the law. Period. Not to mention the Karma points you are seriously piling up in the wrong category.
To answer the title of this post: never. Book piracy is never not stealing. If you "share" my book (or someone else's) on a website, or if you read my book (or someone else's) by downloading it from a file-sharing site, you are an asshat and a thief - not a fan.