Smart Mobs - The Battle Of The Internet: How Democracy Is Losing
talks about the ongoing war over who owns information.
Basically, there have long been two "dark" visions of the future -- the "Big Brother Government dystopia" and the "Big Brother Corporate dystopia." I've long had my money on the latter. The profit motive, and all that. Although the Governmental model seems to have picked up some momentum in the last year or two, I see it increasingly as the cat's paw for the Corporate vision.
The IP wars are a case in point. National legislatures enact the laws, and the federal courts and agencies enforce them, but the laws themselves are written to the benefit of the corporate money-masters (and shockingly often written by them).
There are not many "bright" visions of the future. Buckminster Fuller, a radical thinker who saw a way out of our predicament through design rather than through politics, seemed to think that although the odds were against it, global corporations are probably the only entities that have the capability to create a bright, sustainable future. (The fact that his fictional exemplary corporate collossus was named "Obnoxico" might say something about how optimistic he really was....)
The current IP wars are just a warm up. The issues are so arcane that most people in the US are not even aware of them, nor are many of those who are aware looking ahead to the implications of current trends.
Recommended reading: The Future of Ideas, Lawrence Lessig