Should Economics Play a Role in Copyright Law and Policy?

20 Pages Posted: 4 Aug 2005

See all articles by Pamela Samuelson

Pamela Samuelson

University of California, Berkeley - School of Law


Given the utilitarian rationale for copyright and the economic incentives this law aims to create for investment in intellectual labor, it is somewhat surprising that economic analysis has thus far played such a small role in copyright law and policymaking. This article suggests several reasons why economic analysis has had such a limited role in the past and why there may be resistance within the copyright policymaking community to giving economic analysis a more substantial role in the future. It goes on to give some examples of legislative uses of economic analysis to inform sound policy-making and of uses and misuses of economic analysis as a tool in interpreting the scope of copyright. The article predicts that economic analysis will have more influence in legislative, policy, and judicial interpretation of copyright in the future.

JEL Classification: A11, O34

Suggested Citation

Samuelson, Pamela, Should Economics Play a Role in Copyright Law and Policy?. University of Ottawa Law & Technology Journal, Vol. 1, p. 1, 2003-2004. Available at SSRN:

Pamela Samuelson (Contact Author)

University of California, Berkeley - School of Law ( email )

Boalt Hall
341 North Addition
Berkeley, CA 94720-7200
United States
(510) 642-6775 (Phone)
(510) 643-2673 (Fax)

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