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Custom, Comedy and the Value of Dissent

Jennifer E. Rothman

Loyola Law School Los Angeles

May 12, 2009

Virginia Law Review In Brief, Vol. 95, p. 19, 2009
Loyola-LA Legal Studies Paper No. 2009-18

In this essay, I comment on Dotan Oliar and Christopher Sprigman's article, There's No Free Laugh (Anymore): The Emergence of Intellectual Property Norms and the Transformation of Stand-Up Comedy, 94 Va. L. Rev. 1787 (2008). Their study of the quasi-intellectual property norms in the stand-up comedy world provides yet another compelling example of the phenomenon that I have explored in which the governing intellectual property regime takes a backseat to social norms and other industry customs that dominate the lived experiences of many in creative fields. The microcosm of stand-up comedy reinforces my concern that customs are being used to expand IP law both inside and outside the courtroom. This response to Oliar & Sprigman rejects the suggestion that the existence of social norms challenges the incentive rationale for copyright law. I also conclude that the norms that have developed in the stand-up community are not worthy of judicial or legislative deference and suggest some ways that comics and the courts can disrupt the restrictive norms that Oliar and Sprigman identify.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 9

Keywords: copyright, norms, intellectual property, law and economics, emergence of property rights, stand-up comedy, custom, entertainment, private ordering, industry standards, fair use, clearance culture, best practices

JEL Classification: K10, K11, K12, K13, K39, O34

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Date posted: May 13, 2009 ; Last revised: May 14, 2009

Suggested Citation

Rothman, Jennifer E., Custom, Comedy and the Value of Dissent (May 12, 2009). Virginia Law Review In Brief, Vol. 95, p. 19, 2009; Loyola-LA Legal Studies Paper No. 2009-18. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1403483

Contact Information

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

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