Like so often, there are two sides to this argument: an ethical/moral one and an economic one. The economic one is the only one that should count.
Copyrights/patents/etc are useful tools to create financial incentives for developing products and services which require a lot of investment but are easy to copy (like drugs) once developed. If there's a reason to assume that something which is useful for society would not have been developed without a protection, protection must apply. In all other cases it must not!
Had Elvis Presley sung his songs even without a decades-long copyright protection? You can bet! In fact, any individual who enters the music industry doesn't do this for the money. It's an unlikely by-product. It makes a tiny minority filthy rich and keeps most of the artists at the breadline. Everyone, except for this tiny minority of lucky artists and their corporate allies would be better off if the work wasn't protected, because the songs would be sung anyway (and this last part is the important one!).
What would have happened if Albert Einstein had protected the theory of general relativity? Well, the ”ownership” of this idea had been transferred to somebody else at his death and we, now, would probably pay this guy or company whenever we use the GPS. (GPS doesn't work without considering the time-delays induced by the gravity of Earth.) Of course, Einstein would never have thought of an idea that absurd.
The problem with intellectual property, like so often in economics, is people who apply other moral arguments than the one that we try to maximize the benefit for society as a whole; like trying to apply some kind of 'justice' for big corporations. But if the product would have been developed even without paying some individuals billions, society shouldn't!
Once again: Look at the economics and try to maximize the benefit of society as a whole. Don't look at bogus arguments about justice and ownership. They may sound convincing at first but they can be twisted any way you like. Try to maximize the economic benefit of the whole society and think of justice, ethics and morality only when necessary to achieve this goal!
Last but not least: The laws on the books right now in most western countries are antiquated. They need to be revised. Unfortunately the opposite is happening in the corporate-interests-driven US at the moment; see my last post. I'm really losing more and more respect for the political system over there. Which is one more reason for a politically strong and united Europe. We may soon be the only major power on this planet which is not run by millionaires and their interest groups.
PS: Since the political conservative side is so often in favour of strong IP laws: think of it as government intervention into the free market; the goverment giving orders to free people to not do something - even though it may be in the interest of society as a whole. And the reason is a moral judgement by government employees who work together with large corporations.
Because that's what copyright law is. It should be used only when it is clearly for the benefit of society as a whole, and in all other cases the free market should be free, not regulated.