I contract too. I like the idea of not having to and being able to work full-time on my own projects. Anyway, a simple rebuttal. By your logic:
1. The software industry will crumble when humanity as a whole becomes disillusioned to artificial scarcity and ceases to treat data like physical products, and contractors will go down with the ship, or
2. That won't happen, and selling one's own creations will remain just as viable as contracting for companies which do so, albeit with greater risk and reward.
1. I didn't say the industry would crumble. You must fear this to be true, I never said that. I only talk of change.
2. If you contract then you realize you have a contract to do work, you'll get paid for the work you do... That won't change when people stop charging for copies. The free & open source software industries are built on the premise that getting paid to do work (provide a service, add new feature, etc) is just fine and needs no artificial scarcity sales.
Your remarks on artificial scarcity make perfect sense, but they don't seem like they bear much practical value.
This is only because you don't realize they already have.
They don't change my inclination to throw ten dollars at a game I think I will enjoy, and they don't change my outlook on the software industry: the significant consequence is that piracy will proliferate, as it is and has already.
Don't change. Become extinct. It's the way of the Universe. Neanderthals didn't die out over night, but where are they today? Piracy proliferating is the direct result of the disillusionment you mention. That you'll still pay ten dollars for a game will likely hold true if it's to get a demo turned into a full game or to pay after it's created. This is the first generation where the global bi-directional instant information networks have existed. Just like the machine gun changed war, and the printing press changed publishing, change is coming in the digital world.
So let's double back around to the proper topic of this thread. Piracy increases awareness of a software product and its developer, much like free software increases awareness of a contractor. The forward-thinking approach in a world where file-sharing is on the rise is to turn it to one's advantage.
The even more forward thinking can prevent piracy from detracting any profit by collecting said profit up front. Sure, this puts a cap on the greed of being able to make more and more money from little to no work, so established business will resist; However, there's no reason to play by the old rules now just because the old guys do.
Certainly, those bits don't cost anything and the work is in the past, but people don't think this way. Why do we tip our waitress after our meal? It isn't going to make her service retroactively better. Why does the odd passerby throw five dollars to the street busker and his beaten-up guitar? There's no economic sense to that; his music is FREE as the air through which it ripples.
You're wrong. Tossing the money to the busker is a payment for providing the music. You don't toss as much money to a bum as to a busker, that's why buskers exist. You tip your waitress because of the social contract. It's part of paying for your meal. Return visits will reap rewards from tipping well in the past. Time Exists. Incidence are not isolated. The busker can busk more, maybe buy a better guitar and make better music...
People like to show their appreciation to the good things in the world, and to do their part in keeping those things alive.
Well, it seems you're in perfect alignment with my way of thinking here. This alone would allow us to transition from ransoming bits to getting paid to make good things.
In the worst of worlds -- or the best? -- that is what keeps a software developer alive, and that is why things will not change in the way you suggest.
Do you fail to see the changes I've cited already? Publishing is becoming extinct, and with it goes their model of artificial scarcity. They try to apply systems of tangible goods to purely digital products. Self publishing is gaining a huge adoption among science-fiction writing, and other tech savvy writers. Same goes for video games, music, movies...
Man, it's like a blind man telling me "blue" doesn't exist because they've never seen it. I'm done here.