From the last few chapters, it is clear that the information economy generates a conflict of interest between those who exercise the right to know and those who subscribe to the right to protect intellectual property. There are economic costs and benefits related to both of these viewpoints. The hypothesis here is that the product cycle should be the determinant for protection of intellectual property. As the product cycle shortens, there is less justification for protection in terms of social welfare.
With the introduction of IT, intangible goods and services have proliferated, and this has altered traditional notions of property substantially ( Thompson 1982). Information technology has had an impact not only on jobs, capital formation, and human skills, but also on the creation of wealth through enhanced productivity of the macroeconomy. In 1967 R. G. D. Allen described the unexplained growth of output as "disembodied technical progress" (p. 385). In 1979 Branson reckoned that only 40% of the growth of output in the United States was explained by input growth. The large residual was attributed to technical improvement of human and physical capital. Microeconomic analysis focused on embodied technical progress, whereas macroeconomic analysis ascribed a major role to disembodied progress.