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Information Society

The first development we will describe is the rise of the Information Society. It is the development that makes intellectual creations and IP globally relevant. Information is namely becoming a major resource as ever more production and creation by humans takes the form of information, designs, movies, research and other digitized or easily digitizable works, instead of physical goods.

According to Alvin Toffler with the advent of the Information Society, we are currently entering the third of three waves. The first was the agricultural revolution, in which hunter-gatherer societies were replaced by agricultural ones. Land became the most important resource, and was therefore increasingly enclosed. Then came the Industrial Revolution in which capital and the means of production became all important. It was a time of mass-production, mass-consumption, and mass-media. And now, in the third wave, information is becoming the most important resource, hence its protection with stronger IP-laws. There are now even what a true Hacker Manifesto calls not proletarians but `cogitarians': the wage labourers of the Information Society.

Still; IP is to some extent justifiable in that the increase of information production also brings, and makes sensible, a division of labour between research and production, and between various types of private research. Where in the past R&D mainly happened in-house, and in the service of the production-line, it is now becoming the core business of many companies. Also from the beginning of the 20th century onwards a lot of professionalisation has been going on in culture, with the factory model of culture. And at least for some forms of culture this has brought us many quality improvements.

So totally removing all forms of IP and market-based compensation for creation does not seem justified. Especially because in our Information Society immaterial goods will become an ever more important and bigger share of total production. In addition, leaving all private sector creation and innovation to hobbyists or factories of physical goods will be detrimental, because even if it were possible, there are many talented artists and actors that would benefit society more when they would be creative on a full-time basis.

Next on read-path: Second Enclosures
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