Intellectual Property and the Incentive Fallacy

Eric E. Johnson

University of North Dakota School of Law

January 23, 2011

39 Florida State University Law Review 623

The enterprise of intellectual property law has long been based on the premise that external incentives – such as copyrights and patents – are necessary to get people to produce artistic works and technological innovations. This article argues that this foundational belief is wrong. Using recent advances in behavioral economics, psychology, and business-management studies, along with empirical investigations of industry, it is now possible to construct a compelling case that the incentive theory, as a general matter, is mistaken, and that natural and intrinsic motivations will cause technology and the arts to flourish even in the absence of externally supplied rewards. The result is that intellectual property law itself needs a fundamental rethinking.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 58

Keywords: Behavioral Economics, Intellectual Property, Copyright, Patent, Incentives, Intrinsic Motivation, Psychology, Classical Economics

JEL Classification: O31, H3, K00

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Date posted: January 24, 2011 ; Last revised: June 25, 2014

Suggested Citation

Johnson, Eric E., Intellectual Property and the Incentive Fallacy (January 23, 2011). 39 Florida State University Law Review 623. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1746343

Contact Information

Eric E. Johnson (Contact Author)
University of North Dakota School of Law ( email )
P.O. Box 9003
Grand Forks, ND 58202-9003
United States
HOME PAGE: http://www.ericejohnson.com
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