Using Experimental Evidence to Improve Delegated Enforcement

47 Pages Posted: 8 Aug 2018 Last revised: 23 Jun 2022

See all articles by Lenka Fiala

Lenka Fiala

Tilburg University - Center for Economic Research (CentER); Tilburg Law and Economics Center (TILEC)

Martin Husovec

London School of Economics - Law School

Date Written: March 3, 2022


Digital content today is governed by online providers like Facebook or YouTube. Increasingly, these providers are expected to enforce the law by removing illegal content, such as copyright infringement or hate speech. Typically, once they are notified of its existence, they have to assess it and, if infringing, remove it. Otherwise, they face liability. This system of content moderation is a form of delegation of the state's tasks to private parties. In literature, it is empirically established that some schemes of delegated enforcement can trigger substantial false positives, mostly due to over-compliance by providers and under-assertion of rights by affected content creators. This results in a phenomenon known as over-blocking: collateral removal of lawful content. We conduct a laboratory experiment to test a possible solution to this issue, as proposed by Husovec (2016). Our results show that an external dispute resolution mechanism subject to a particular fee structure can significantly reduce over-compliance by providers and improve the accuracy of their decisions, largely thanks to the content creators taking initiative. It does so by re-calibrating the typical asymmetry of incentives under the delegated enforcement schemes. The principles behind the solution have the potential to improve also other schemes of delegated enforcement where providers have weak incentives to properly execute delegated tasks in the public interest.

Keywords: experiment, notice and take-down, counter-notice, online enforcement, copyright, hate speech

JEL Classification: C91, D02, K24, K42

Suggested Citation

Fiala, Lenka and Husovec, Martin, Using Experimental Evidence to Improve Delegated Enforcement (March 3, 2022). International Review of Law and Economics, Forthcoming, TILEC Discussion Paper No. 2018-028, Available at SSRN: or

Lenka Fiala

Tilburg University - Center for Economic Research (CentER) ( email )

P.O. Box 90153
Tilburg, 5000 LE

Tilburg Law and Economics Center (TILEC) ( email )

Warandelaan 2
Tilburg, 5000 LE

Martin Husovec (Contact Author)

London School of Economics - Law School ( email )

Houghton Street
London WC2A 2AE, WC2A 2AE
United Kingdom

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