Why Custom Cannot Save Copyright's Fair Use Defense

7 Pages Posted: 16 Mar 2008  

Jennifer E. Rothman

Loyola Law School Los Angeles


This article is a short reply to Richard Epstein's comments on my article, The Questionable Use of Custom in Intellectual Property, 93 Virginia Law Review 1899 (2007). In the underlying article, I critique the general preference of courts to incorporate customary practices into intellectual property law. In this reply, I disagree with Professor Epstein's claim that custom should be dispositive in some instances to determine the scope of copyright's fair use defense. Although I observe that for some individual parties various customary practices may be cost-effective, their incorporation into the law expands the scope of copyright in ways that unreasonably limit and undervalue fair uses. Epstein's preference for private ordering is flawed, at least in the IP context, because suboptimal customs will develop due to market inequalities, the complexity of the IP industries and the dearth of ongoing relationships and repeat players.

Keywords: custom, copyright, fair use, intellectual property, private law, private ordering

JEL Classification: K00, K39

Suggested Citation

Rothman, Jennifer E., Why Custom Cannot Save Copyright's Fair Use Defense. Virginia Law Review in Brief, Vol. 93, pp. 243-248, 2008; Loyola-LA Legal Studies Paper No. 2008-7. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1105829

Jennifer E. Rothman (Contact Author)

Loyola Law School Los Angeles ( email )

919 Albany Street
Los Angeles, CA 90015-1211
United States
(213) 736-2776 (Phone)
(213) 380-3769 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.lls.edu/academics/faculty/rothman.html

Register to save articles to
your library


Paper statistics

Abstract Views