December 23, 2003
Intellectual Property

A student writes: I recently listened to lectures by Timothy Taylor produced by the Teaching Company. I found your email through your association with him on the internet. I wanted to know if you would answer a couple questions, or suggest perhaps where I could look into my questions elsewhere. I'm curious what you think about the copywrighting of material. Is it not a form of protectionism? What is the history of this concept? It seems to me that just as it might encourage creativity on the part of inventors and artists, doesn't it also subsidize them in a way that is detrimental to the rest of society? How can it be argued that ideas belong to somebody, beyond perhaps the argument that without copywrights creators would suffer (which I don't see as the governments responsibility to concern itself with). Thank you, Yes. It is a form of ... not "protectionism" but "monopoly." The argument is that it is a *good* form of monopoly. If you want to go more deeply into this, get on one of your university computers and look for http://socrates.berkeley.edu/~scotch/G_and_S.pdf (Gallini and Scotcher, "Intellectual Property: When Is It the Best Incentive Mechanism?"). Suzanne and Nancy have...

Posted by DeLong at 10:44 AM