Cracks in the Foundations of Copyright Law

April 21, 2004 - 8:30am to 10:30am

Quad Club, Library Room

Presenter: Richard A. Epstein, James Parker Hall Distinguished Service Professor, University of Chicago Law School

View Richard A. Epstein's paper: "Liberty versus Property? Cracks in the Foundations of Copyright Law"

Many modern intellectual property scholars have argued that the creation of patents and copyrights, for inventions and writings, respectively, should be resisted on the ground that these forms of property necessarily infringe ordinary forms of liberty, in contrast to property that is found in tangible things. This article rejects that claim by showing how property conflicts with liberty in both settings, but that the different configurations of rights observed in these various areas is defensible on the ground that the loss of liberty for all persons is, to the extent that human institutions can make it, compensated by the increased utility generated by the various property rights in question. The appropriate approach to intellectual property is not abolition but fine-tuning in an effort to increase the gains from intellectual property generally.

ABOUT RICHARD A. EPSTEIN: Richard A. Epstein is the James Parker Hall Distinguished Service Professor of Law at the University of Chicago, where he has taught since 1972. He has also been the Peter and Kirstin Bedford Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution since 2000. Prior to joining the University of Chicago Law School faculty, he taught law at the University of Southern California from 1968 to 1972. He served as Interim Dean from February to June, 2001. He received an LL.D., h.c. from the University of Ghent, 2003. He has been a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences since 1985 and a Senior Fellow of the Center for Clinical Medical Ethics at the University of Chicago Medical School, also since 1983. He served as editor of the Journal of Legal Studies from 1981 to 1991, and of the Journal of Law and Economics from 1991-2001, At present he is a director of the John M. Olin Program in Law and Economics. His books include Skepticism and Freedom: A Modern Case for Classical Liberalism (University of Chicago, 2003): Cases and Materials on Torts (Aspen Law & Business 7th ed. 2000) Torts (Aspen Law & Business 1999) Principles for a Free Society: Reconciling Individual Liberty with the Common Good (Perseus Books, 1998): Mortal Peril: Our Inalienable Rights to Health Care (Addison-Wesley, 1997) Simple Rules for a Complex World (Harvard, 1995) Bargaining With the State (Princeton, 1993) Forbidden Grounds: The Case Against Employment Discrimination Laws (Harvard, 1992)Takings: Private Property and the Power of Eminent Domain (Harvard, 1985) and Modern Products Liability Law (Greenwood Press, 1980). He has written numerous articles on a wide range of legal and interdisciplinary subjects. He has taught courses in civil procedure, communications, constitutional law, contracts, corporations, criminal law, health law and policy, legal history, labor law, property, real estate development and finance, jurisprudence, labor law land use planning, patents, individual, estate and corporate taxation, Roman Law torts, and workers' compensation.