Journal of Economic Perspectives: Vol. 19 No. 2 (Spring 2005)


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Intellectual Property: The Law and Economics Approach

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Posner, Richard A. 2005. "Intellectual Property: The Law and Economics Approach." Journal of Economic Perspectives, 19(2): 57-73.

DOI: 10.1257/0895330054048704


With the rise of the law and economics movement, the focus of economic analysis of intellectual property has begun to shift to more concrete and manageable issues concerning the structure and texture of the complicated pattern of common law and statutory doctrines, legal institutions and business practices relating to intellectual property. Among the issues discussed in this paper are the length of protection for intellectual property, the rules that allow considerable copying of intellectual property without permission of the originator, the rules governing derivative works, and alternative methods of providing incentives for the creation of intellectual property. The emphasis is on copyright law, which, perhaps because of its complex legal structure and the relative neglect by economists of the arts and entertainment, has tended to be slighted in the conventional economic analysis of intellectual property, relative to patent law, where economic analysis can draw on an extensive literature concerning the economics of innovation. The article also touches on trademarks and trade secrets, and explores some parallels and contrasts between the legal treatment of physical and intellectual property.

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Posner, Richard A.


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