Indelicate Imbalancing in Copyright and Patent Law
Tom W. Bell
Chapman University, The Dale E. Fowler School of Law
COPY FIGHTS: THE FUTURE OF INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY IN THE INFORMATION AGE AT 1, Adam Thierer, Wayne Crews, eds., Cato Institute, 2002
Courts and commentators routinely claim that copyrights and patents aim to strike a delicate balance between public and private interests. No such balance exists, however. Intractable knowledge problems preclude lawmakers from even measuring the many, fluctuating, and unquantifiable interests affected by copyrights and patents, must less setting those interests in equipoise. Due to public choice problems, moreover, we can expect no better from lawmakers than indelicate imbalances in favor of certain lobbies. Copyrights and patents serve worthy utilitarian ends. They will fail to reach them, however, if we count on centralized political authorities to delicately balance public and private interests. Instead, copyright and patent policy should aim at promoting the progress of science and useful arts through the decentralized enforcement of common law rights.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 16
JEL Classification: copyright, patent, delicate balancing
Date posted: May 4, 2007
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