Our system of intellectual property, especially the patent system for inventions, prioritizes innovation above other contributions to culture. The patent system (appropriately referred to, I think, as "intellectual monopoly" rather than intellectual property) attempts to allow an innovator to capture the profits that flow from his innovation, largely ignoring the contributions of those who copy and use the technology.
The conception of copying and using an innovation as "theft" is fundamentally wrongheaded. In practice, throughout human history, copying and use (with slight modifications) is how technology has progressed. Use and copying with modification contributes more value than mere innovation, but is not rewarded (and is actually punished) by our current intellectual monopoly scheme. An analogy to biological evolution is apt: innovation provides the raw material upon which selection (copying and use) acts, in the same way that genetic mutation provides the raw material upon which natural selection acts. We would not expect large amounts of genetic mutation caused by radiation to result in better and better ecosystems; quite the opposite. Genetic mutations are mostly harmful, and even mutations that are successful for an organism can disrupt an entire ecosystem. Radical changes to the ecosystem must follow a major genetic change in any participant organism.
Proponents of the value of innovation would argue that unlike radiation, human innovators can think about the implications of an innovation, designing only those that would result in a beneficial change. This is, I argue, fundamentally hubristic. The ability of humans, even the smartest humans, to mentally project changes into the future is more limited than humans generally acknowledge. The most salient consequences of historical innovations were generally not widely anticipated.
The success of an innovation is often not apparent at the moment the innovation is conceived. Only in an environment in which appropriate supportive technologies have developed, and after long use, can any particular innovation be considered successful. (See, e.g., the development of the rudder over the past two millennia.)
The problem of the failure to project the effects of innovation has been especially visible in the case of the design of human societies. Utopian societies of the 19th century failed to have an average longevity of even a single human generation, despite the careful planning and effort of concerned individuals.
A related problem is the size and interconnectedness of modern systems. Many separate ecosystems adapting in different environments would offer some hope of hitting on stable solutions. A single, giant ecosystem, in which everything is interconnected and innovations spread throughout the system immediately, offers much less hope of happening upon a stable solution. Our megasystem limps along, gathering an ever-increasing load of dangerous innovations, and will do so until it no longer can.
This is not to say that simpler, stabler systems are necessarily better. They are frequently quite awful. Interestingly, however, removing the salient awfulness of a particular simple system often (imperceptibly, over generations) also removes whatever was beneficial about the system.
There is a fundamental problem with our extremely complex system. Not only has it failed to provide decent lives for its human citizens, but it is not even on a course likely to provide decent lives in the future. Our almost religious focus on innovation as a solution to our problems ignores the manner in which change occurs in large, complex system.