Speech, Spillovers, and the First Amendment

56 Pages Posted: 13 Jan 2008 Last revised: 23 Jun 2009

See all articles by Brett M. Frischmann

Brett M. Frischmann

Villanova University - Charles Widger School of Law


Many know the marketplace of ideas as a metaphor. Yet, economics may help explain speech and the First Amendment in more than a metaphoric way.

This essay, written for the Law in a Networked World conference hosted by the University of Chicago Legal Forum, explores how the First amendment may operate to sustain a spillover rich networked environment. The essay focuses on (i) the economics of speech externalities and (ii) the functional role of the First Amendment in constraining the government's ability to force or enable actors to internalize externalities associated with their speech. When viewed from an economic perspective, the First Amendment functions as a broad (though not absolute) restriction on the government's choice of actions or interventions with respect to the speech market/environment. The essay suggests that the First Amendment promotes spillovers (positive externalities) and functions more broadly as an institution that sustains a spillover-rich cultural-intellectual environment.

Keywords: speech, communication, spillover, externality, First Amendment

JEL Classification: D62, D80, H1, H40, K00, O34, Z10

Suggested Citation

Frischmann, Brett M., Speech, Spillovers, and the First Amendment. University of Chicago Legal Forum, 2008, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1082497

Brett M. Frischmann (Contact Author)

Villanova University - Charles Widger School of Law ( email )

299 N. Spring Mill Road
Villanova, PA 19085
United States

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