I'm starting college this semester, and my friends and I are discovering that some of the required books for our courses are seriously expensive. We've had some discussion about the ethics of downloading books from websites like Library Genesis and other websites that host copies of the textbooks that we need. I understand that there is some discussion about downloading books generally, but we were wondering if within that discussion there is reason to be more lenient when someone holds a physical copy of the book in question. I mean, let's say I already bought the textbook for my biology course -- if we're talking about stealing the idea (because, of course, downloading a book does not include the taking of a physical object), then I already have legal access to the ideas contained in the book, don't I?
Does it make a difference if the book is offered as an e-text by the publisher? Does it make a difference (as one commenter implied) if I would pay for a digital copy, were it not free?
I understand that this place isn't a place to get a legitimate psak, but I'm just looking for ideas to bounce around until I get a chance to ask my rabbi.