Search the Archives           Subscribe           About this News Service           Reader Comments

Archived updates for Friday, September 10, 2004

The Coming of Age of Intellectual Property

According to "Property, Intellectual Property, and Free Riding," by Mark A. Lemley of Stanford Law School, courts and scholars have wrongly assumed that intellectual property rights are like other forms of tangible property in order to justify their condemnation infringement as "free riding." The economics of such classical notions of property are concerned with "internalizing negative externalities," i.e., the imposition of costs for the harm that one person's use of property (such as land) does to another's common interest in that property.

In contrast, he argues, intellectual property concerns the "internalization of positive externalities" due to the imposition of benefits on the common interest. Classical property theory offers little or no justification for internalizing positive externalities. In fact, free riding is desirable for intellectual property "except in limited circumstances where curbing it is necessary to encourage creativity." Since too much intellectual property protection is just as bad as not enough, intellectual property law must search for balance rather than free riders. It no longer needs to turn to some misused anology to tangible property. Intellectual property has come of age on it own terms.
    (0)comment(s)     translate     More Updates     Send