Wigmorian Copyright: Law, Economics, and Socio-Cultural Evolution

Intellectual Property Quarterly (IPQ) 2018, 159-180

50 Pages Posted: 4 Aug 2018 Last revised: 7 Oct 2019

See all articles by Tim W. Dornis

Tim W. Dornis

Leuphana University of Lueneburg; New York University School of Law

Date Written: July 11, 2018


The scope of copyright protection has been extended throughout the centuries. While it initially did not cover much more than printed books, it now comprises a large variety of different works and regulates innumerable marketplaces for creative products. At the same time, theory has made enormous leaps, from an initial understanding of copyright as a static and individual natural-law entitlement to today’s more economic conception. Yet one thing has remained unchanged: no matter what the product or marketplace at issue, the law still offers a virtually uniform level of rights protection for all scenarios. Such monolithic invariance is the root of many problems, since today’s marketplaces for creative products are anything but homogeneous with respect to the correlation between rights extension and creative activities. So far, much of the discussion has focused on how to modify substantivelaw copyright doctrine. This perspective overlooks the impact and importance of court adjudication. A more process-oriented and evolutionary view would help conceive of a better, more comprehensive and context-sensitive model of copyright. Indeed, it is the process and method of practical lawmaking rather than the statutory fine-tuning of substantive law policies that is the most significant determinant of the evolution of copyright law “in action.” This study proposes a more evolutionary approach to copyright theory and, accordingly, a number of modifications to current doctrine in order to create a more context-sensitive, flexible, and economically sound copyright law.

Keywords: Copyright, Law & Economics, Economic Analysis, Law & Evolution, Socio-Cultural Studies, John Wigmore

JEL Classification: K15, K20, K24

Suggested Citation

Dornis, Tim W., Wigmorian Copyright: Law, Economics, and Socio-Cultural Evolution (July 11, 2018). Intellectual Property Quarterly (IPQ) 2018, 159-180 , Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3212283 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3212283

Tim W. Dornis (Contact Author)

Leuphana University of Lueneburg ( email )

Universitätsallee 1
Lüneburg, 21335

HOME PAGE: http://https://www.leuphana.de/en/institutes/lls/persons/tim-w-dornis.html

New York University School of Law ( email )

40 Washington Square South
New York, NY 10012-1099
United States

Here is the Coronavirus
related research on SSRN

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics