But from what I can tell, the penalties laid out for downloading one season of a TV show with BitTorrent are much harsher than if you actually stole a DVD set of the same show from a government store. I lay out a practical example in detail below, but to cut to the chase: For stealing the DVD you could face no more than up to 1 year imprisonment and up to a $100,000 fine; for downloading the same material you could face statutory damages of up to $3,300,000, costs and attorney's fees (ie: the other guy's attorneys), as well as up to 1 year imprisonment, and up to a $100,000 fine.
Personally, I have no trouble explaining this. The entertainment industry believes that downloading cuts into their profits directly. Shoplifting doesn't hurt the big RIAA/MPAA-affiliated producers -- the retailer has to suck it up.
"Stupid Copyright Tricks" is going to be a regular feature of this journal. Most, though not all, of this material will probably come from BoingBoing: A Directory of Wonderful Things, which is something you should probably be reading anyway.