Heads up: I´ve been reading Kevin Kelly´s “What Technology Wants” and I thoroughly recommend it. Some of the ideas I discuss here (such as the importance of language for progress) are discussed in his book.
Language is arguably the single most important human invention. It freed us from being isolated in our own minds and opened the doors for sharing, debating, teaching and learning. It allowed us to pool our experiences together and participate in the making of culture. It was the invention that led to other inventions and their successful spreading.
Yet, today, we see a strong movement to wall up Intellectual Property and to better defend it against piracy. PIPA and SOPA have been dropped for now but I would not be surprised if these media-corporation-backed laws were to emerge again, with slightly different provisions. ACTA (Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement) can be used to frame, from a legal point of view, generic drugs as counterfeit drugs. It could also potentially allow for the search of laptops and media players at border controls (There is some discussion on this one). Right here in Portugal, police traffic patrols are checking vehicles for pirated media and everybody is warned not to have anything suspicious on their car.