I am more sure with each passing day that we in the western “civilized” world (and possibly the entire world) will soon reach a point at which we will be physically incapable of having certain ideas without having paid license fees each time the mind tries to wander to them. The technology isn’t far away… certainly before the end of the century.
Just imagine, you’re having a conversation with someone and in mid-sentence you stop, your mind gone blank — “Sorry,” you say, “I haven’t paid to have that thought.” and because you’re a little hard up at the moment, the conversation goes elsewhere.
Am I a nut or a prophet? Both. Mostly, I’m scared of the future — a future in which all things are owned either by this multi-national IP organization or that one. It’s what Civilization: Call to Power called “Corporate Democracy” only it’s run amok. Just look at what we’ve got already: SDMI, IP rights for databases of all kinds, CPRM, extended 100+ year copyrights, broadly granted patents with almost no concern for prior art or public good…
And most insidious of all, it’s perfect enforcement, not by physical imposition after the fact, but by intervention before it. You cannot rebel against what does not occur, against what you do not see.
Just you wait. The western nations will own your soul yet.