First, don't get me wrong. I am totally anti-intellectual property theft, but if you are going to take legal action, do consider the time lost (time IS money) and the money you will spend in taking that action. There is no guarantee you will "win" in small claims court.
In small claims court, at least in Minnesota, the burden of proof is on the complainant. Additionally, you are not allowed to bring legal representation into small claims court. You are on your own and at the mercy of the judge.
You cannot prevent anyone from copying your articles. You can take legal action if they do, but that legal action will not act as a watch dog for the next time and the time after. Nor will it act as a watch dog for the next individual who believes he/she has a better plan to "get away with it."
As for your point number three, let them argue. The law is clear about when copyright begins and when it ends. The "thousands" of thiefs will be thiefs whether or not you do anything to try to inhibit them.
To summarize what I said in my first post, there are several effective remedies in place to curtail copy-theft on the web. If you use them first, chances are you will save yourself a whole lot of time, money, and aggravation.