This chapter argues that at least one goal we have in an intellectual property system is the attempt to solve various “public goods problems.” (Subsequent chapters defend that view historically and normatively, discuss the ideas of moral right and natural right, the tradition of the droits d’auteur, and the similarities and dissimilarities between the arguments for tangible and intellectual property rights. Further reading on those issues can be found in the relevant chapter.)

The single best starting point for someone who wishes to understand an economic perspective on intellectual property is William M. Landes and Richard A. Posner, The Economic Structure of Intellectual Property Law (Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press, 2003). The story laid out in this chapter is one largely (but not entirely) focused on the idea of intellectual property rights offered as incentives—the carrot that induces the author to write, the inventor to research, the investor to fund that research, and the corporation to develop attractive and stable brand names that convey reliable information to consumers. This is conventionally known as the ex ante perspective. But as the chapter also hints, intellectual property rights, like property rights in general, have a role after the innovation has occurred—facilitating its efficient exploitation, allowing inventors to disclose their inventions to prospective licensees without thereby losing control of them, and providing a state-constructed, neatly tied bundle of entitlements that can be efficiently traded in the market. Readers interested in these perspectives will benefit from looking at these articles: Edmund Kitch, “The Nature and Function of the Patent System,” Journal of Law and Economics 20 (1977): 265–290; Paul J. Heald, “A Transaction Costs Theory of Patent Law,” Ohio State Law Journal 66 (2005): 473–509; and Robert Merges, “A Transactional View of Property Rights,” Berkeley Technology Law Journal 20 (2005): 1477–1520. Of course, just as the incentives account of intellectual property has its skeptics, so these ex post theories attract skepticism from those who believe that, in practice, the rights will not be clear and well-delineated but vague and potentially overlapping, that the licensing markets will find themselves entangled in “patent thickets” from which the participants can escape only at great cost or by ignoring the law altogether. It is worth comparing Michael A. Heller and Rebecca S. Eisenberg, “Can Patents Deter Innovation? The Anticommons in Biomedical Research,” Science 280 (1998): 698–701, with John Walsh, Ashish Arora, and Wesley Cohen, “Effects of Research Tool Patents and Licensing on Biomedical Innovation,” in Patents in the Knowledge-Based Economy (Washington D.C.: National Academies Press, 2003), 285–340. There is a nice irony to imagining that the necessary mechanism of the efficient market is “ignore the property rights when they are inconvenient.”

The skeptics argue that the alternative to a deeply commodified world of invention and innovation, with hundreds of thousands of licensing markets, is a rich information and innovation commons, from which all can draw freely, supporting a thin and well-defined layer of intellectual property rights close to the ultimate commercially viable innovation. The rhetorical structure of the debate—replete with paradox and inversion—is laid out in James Boyle, “Cruel, Mean, or Lavish? Economic Analysis, Price Discrimination and Digital Intellectual Property,” Vanderbilt Law Review 53 (2000): 2007–2039. For some of the difficulties in the attempt to arrive at a coherent economic theory of intellectual property, see James Boyle, Shamans, Software, and Spleens: Law and the Construction of the Information Society (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1996), 35–46. Finally, while I urge that at the outset we must care about the actual effects and economic incentives provided by intellectual property rights, I am by no means asserting that we should stop there. Indeed to do so would dramatically impoverish our view of the world. James Boyle, “Enclosing the Genome: What Squabbles over Genetic Patents Could Teach Us,” in Perspectives on Properties of the Human Genome Project, ed. F. Scott Kieff (San Diego, Calif.: Elsevier Academic Press, 2003), 97, 107–109.

In other words, as all this suggests, this chapter is only an introduction to a rich and complex debate.



In this chapter I offered a snapshot of the historical debate over copyright, patent and—to a lesser extent—trademark law. The argument is partly a matter of intellectual history: a claim about what various individuals and groups actually believed about intellectual property rights, and the way those beliefs shaped the policies they supported and the legal structures they created. But it is also a normative argument—a claim that this vision of intellectual property is better than the more “physicalist” and “absolutist” alternatives I described or, at the very least, that it is an important corrective to our current excesses. This dual character complicates the task of providing a guide to further reading: books could be written on either portion alone.

My own understanding of the history of “intellectual property”—itself a relatively recently invented and contentious category—has been profoundly influenced by more scholars than I can list here. Edward C. Walterscheid, The Nature of the Intellectual Property Clause: A Study in Historical Perspective (Buffalo, N.Y.: W. S. Hein, 2002), gives a magisterial account of the origins of the U.S. Constitution’s intellectual property clause. Tyler T. Ochoa and Mark Rose, “The Anti-Monopoly Origins of the Patent and Copyright Clause,” Journal of the Patent & Trademark Office Society 84 (2002): 909–940, offer a vision of the history that is closest to the one I put forward here. In addition, Tyler T. Ochoa, “Origins and Meanings of the Public Domain,” University of Dayton Law Review 28 (2002): 215–267, provides the same service for the concept of the public domain. Malla Pollack provides a useful historical study of the contemporary understanding of the word “progress” at the time of the American Constitution in Malla Pollack, “The Democratic Public Domain: Reconnecting the Modern First Amendment and the Original Progress Clause (a.k.a. Copyright and Patent Clause),” Jurimetrics 45 (2004): 23–40. A rich and thought-provoking account of the way that ideas of intellectual property worked themselves out in the context of the corporate workplace can be found in Catherine Fisk, Working Knowledge: Employee Innovation and the Rise of Corporate Intellectual Property, 1800–1930 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, forthcoming 2009).

Of course, the history of copyright or of intellectual property cannot be confined to the two figures I focus on principally here—Jefferson and Macaulay—nor cannot it be confined to the Anglo-American tradition or to the debates in which Jefferson and Macaulay were participating. Carla Hesse, Publishing and Cultural Politics in Revolutionary Paris, 1789–1810 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1991), is vital reading to understand the parallels between the Anglo-American and droits d’auteur tradition. It is also fascinating reading. For studies of the broader intellectual climate, I recommend Martha Woodmansee, The Author, Art, and the Market: Rereading the History of Aesthetics (New York: Columbia University Press, 1994); Peter Jaszi, “Toward a Theory of Copyright: The Metamorphoses of ‘Authorship,’ ” Duke Law Journal 1991, no. 2: 455–502; Mark Rose, Authors and Owners: The Invention of Copyright (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1993); Lyman Ray Patterson, Copyright in Historical Perspective (Nashville, Tenn.: Vanderbilt University Press, 1968). The British debates at the time of Macaulay are beautifully captured in Catherine Seville, Literary Copyright Reform in Early Victorian England: The Framing of the 1842 Copyright Act (Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 1999). (It should be noted that, while sympathetic, she is less moved than I by Macaulay’s arguments.)

Any collection of historical works this rich and complex resists summary description—nevertheless, I think it is fair to say that the vast majority of these works stress the centrality of the skeptical “antimonopolist” attitudes I use Jefferson and Macaulay to represent to the history of intellectual property. This does not mean there is unanimity or anything close to it. In particular, Adam Mossoff, “Who Cares What Thomas Jefferson Thought about Patents? Reevaluating the Patent ‘Privilege’ in Historical Context,” Cornell Law Review 92 (2007): 953–1012, which came to light late in the writing of this book, offers a thoughtful historical account that criticizes the tendency to use Jefferson’s views as representative of a dominant strand in American intellectual property. My agreements and disagreements with Mossoff’s arguments are discussed fully later in the notes to this chapter. The central point, however, and the single strongest argument against those who would instead attempt to construct a more absolutist, physicalist or labor-based theory of intellectual property, is the problem of limits. Where does one stop? How can one put a limit on the potentially absolute claim over some intellectual creation? How can one specify the limits on prior creators that actually give me ownership over what I create, for I surely have built on the works of others? How can one circumscribe the negative effects on speech, life, and culture that the absolutist or maximalist tradition threatens to generate? My ultimate argument is that the purpose-driven, skeptical, antimonopolistic tendencies of Jefferson and Macaulay answer those questions far better than any contending theory, that they represent not merely an intellectual history sadly neglected in today’s political debates, but a practical solution to the inevitable question, “where do you draw the line?”



The endnotes to this chapter supply copious particular references; this page provides the overview. Those seeking to understand the various methods by which different aspects of common land were enclosed over a 400 year history in England should start with J. A. Yelling, Common Field and Enclosure in England, 1450–1850 (Hamden, Conn.: Archon Books, 1977). Thomas More, Utopia (New York: W. J. Black, 1947), provides a harsh criticism of the enclosure movement, one that is echoed hundreds of years later by Polanyi: Karl Polanyi, The Great Transformation: The Political and Economic Origins of Our Time (Boston: Beacon Press, 1957). Economic historians have generally believed that the enclosure movement yielded considerable efficiency gains—bringing under centralized control and management, property that had previously been inefficiently managed under a regime of common access. When efficiency gains mean higher productivity so that fewer people starve, this is no small thing. Donald N. McCloskey, “The Enclosure of Open Fields: Preface to a Study of Its Impact on the Efficiency of English Agriculture in the Eighteenth Century,” Journal of Economic History 32 (1972): 15–35; “The Prudent Peasant: New Findings on Open Fields,” Journal of Economic History 51 (1991): 343–355. This argument seems plausible, but it has recently received powerful challenges, for example, that by Robert C. Allen, Enclosure and the Yeoman (New York: Oxford University Press, 1992).

In the twentieth century, the negative effects of open access or common ownership received an environmental gloss thanks to the work of Garrett Hardin, “The Tragedy of the Commons,” Science 162 (1968): 1243–1248. However, work by scholars such as Elinor Ostrom, Governing the Commons: The Evolution of Institutions for Collective Action (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990), and Carol Rose, “The Comedy of the Commons: Custom, Commerce, and Inherently Public Property,” University of Chicago Law Review 53 (1986): 711–781, have introduced considerable nuance to this idea. Some resources may be more efficiently used if they are held in common. In addition, nonlegal, customary, and norm-based forms of “regulation” often act to mitigate the theoretical dangers of overuse or under-investment.

Beyond the theoretical and historical arguments about the effects of enclosure on real property lie the question of how well those arguments translate to the world of the intangible and intellectual. It is that question which this chapter raises. Christopher May, A Global Political Economy of Intellectual Property Rights: The New Enclosures? (London: Routledge, 2000) offers a similar analogy—as do several other articles cited in the text. The key differences obviously lie in the features of intellectual property identified in the earlier chapters—its nonrivalrousness and nonexcludability—and on the ways in which a commons of cultural, scientific, and technical information has been central to the operation of both liberal democracy and capitalist economy. I owe the latter point particularly to Richard Nelson, whose work on the economics of innovation amply repays further study: Richard Nelson, Technology, Institutions, and Economic Growth (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2005).



The first book to read on the history of the tension between copying technologies and the law that regulates them is Paul Goldstein’s effortlessly erudite Copyright’s Highway: From Gutenberg to the Celestial Jukebox, 2nd ed. (Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press, 2003). Goldstein and I differ somewhat in our optimism about current regulatory developments but his work is an indispensable beginning for the inquiry and a pleasure to read. One fascinating theme in the book is that the intellectual tension between maximalists and minimalists (or optimists and pessimists as he describes them) is actually a fundamental part of copyright law’s survival strategy—its dialectical method of dealing with technological change. If so, in this book I am struggling gamely to do my part by holding up my side of the dialectic. It does not seem to be winning much recently. Perhaps copyright’s Hegel is asleep.

Much of this chapter concerns itself with copyright’s response to the Internet. No book comes close to laying this out as well as Jessica Litman’s Digital Copyright: Protecting Intellectual Property on the Internet (Amherst, N.Y.: Prometheus Books, 2001). Litman is a beautiful essayist and this book is both accessible and detailed. Those readers who are interested in the history of that dying technology, the VCR, will find a brilliant account in James Lardner, Fast Forward: Hollywood, the Japanese & the VCR Wars (New York: Norton, 1987). One needs only to scan its pages to pick up the eerie foreshadowing of the Internet Threat. Litman’s article on the Sony case provides a detailed legal history to back up Ladner’s social history. Jessica Litman, “The Sony Paradox,” Case Western Reserve Law Review 55 (2005): 917–962. Pamela Samuelson has a fine article exploring the jurisprudential impact of Sony’s reasoning. Pamela Samuelson, “The Generativity of Sony v. Universal: The Intellectual Property Legacy of Justice Stevens,” Fordham Law Review 74 (2006): 1831–1876.

The scholarly literature on Napster, copyright, and peer-to-peer technologies generally is both wide and deep. In addition to Litman’s book, some personal favorites include: Raymond Shih Ray Ku, “The Creative Destruction of Copyright: Napster and the New Economics of Digital Technology,” University of Chicago Law Review 69 (2002): 263–324; Mark A. Lemley and R. Anthony Reese, “Reducing Digital Copyright Infringement Without Restricting Innovation,” Stanford Law Review 56 (2003–2004): 1345–1434; Jane C. Ginsburg, “Separating the Sony Sheep From the Grokster Goats: Reckoning the Future Business Plans of Copyright-Dependent Technology Entrepreneurs,” University of Arizona Law Review 50 (2008): 577–609; Justin Hughes, “On the Logic of Suing One’s Customers and the Dilemma of Infringement-Based Business Models,” Cardozo Arts and Entertainment Law Journal 22 (2005): 725–766; Douglas Lichtman and William Landes, “Indirect Liability for Copyright Infringement: An Economic Perspective,” Harvard Journal of Law and Technology 16 (2003): 395–410; and Glynn S. Lunney, Jr., “Fair Use and Market Failure: Sony Revisited,” Boston University Law Review 82 (2002): 975–1030.

In addition to these articles, a number have focused specifically on alternative methods of encouraging cultural production while maximizing technological and cultural freedom. Two that have profoundly influenced my own thinking are Neil Weinstock Netanel, “Impose a Noncommercial Use Levy to Allow Free Peer-to-Peer File Sharing,” Harvard Journal of Law and Technology 17 (2003): 1–84; and William Fisher, Promises to Keep: Technology, Law, and the Future of Entertainment (Palo Alto, Calif.: Stanford University Press, 2004). Fisher, whose presentations and articles reveal a cathedral-like conceptual structure that would have delighted the Encyclopedists, argues powerfully that a system of levies on broadband technology, distributed in proportion to the popularity of the music downloaded could allow us to permit “free” access to music while still compensating musicians. His responses to the problems of measurement, gaming of the system, privacy, and so on will not convince everyone but they represent by far the most systematic treatment of the subject.



This chapter focuses primarily on the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (“DMCA”), one of the most controversial recent pieces of intellectual property legislation and the subject of extensive scholarship and commentary.

The DMCA and DRM

Once again Jessica Litman’s Digital Copyright: Protecting Intellectual Property on the Internet (Amherst, N.Y.: Prometheus Books, 2001) is an indispensable introduction. David Nimmer offered one of the early, and prescient, analyses of the conceptual problems in the statute. David Nimmer, “A Riff on Fair Use in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act,” University of Pennsylvania Law Review 148 (2000): 673–742. His anthology, Copyright: Sacred Text, Technology, and the DMCA (The Hague: Kluwer Law International, 2003), is also worthy reading for those who wish to pursue the legal issues further. Tarleton Gillespie’s book Wired Shut: Copyright and the Shape of Digital Culture (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 2007), is an accessible but thorough introduction to the economic, political, and cultural consequences of so-called “digital rights management” or DRM. Legal scholars have been assiduous in pointing out the problems that legally backed DRM brings to science, culture, policy, and economic competition. Pamela Samuelson’s “Intellectual Property and the Digital Economy: Why the Anti-Circumvention Regulations Need to be Revised,” Berkeley Technology Law Journal 14 (1999): 519–566, is an early critique that proved to be particularly accurate in its predictions. Jerome Reichman, Graeme Dinwoodie, and Pamela Samuelson, “A Reverse Notice and Takedown Regime to Enable Public Interest Uses of Technically Protected Copyrighted Works,” Berkeley Technology Law Journal 22 (2007): 981–1060, provides a fascinating recent proposal for a method to solve some of those problems. Dan Burk’s “Anticircumvention Misuse,” UCLA Law Review 50 (2003): 1095–1140, offers a similar piece of conceptual judo, looking at the way in which copyright’s traditional concerns with anticompetitive and predatory misuse of intellectual property rights could be turned on the new legally backed digital fences of cyberspace. Julie Cohen sets the debate in the wider perspective of political theory in a way that has been influential on my own thinking. In “Lochner in Cyberspace: The New Economic Orthodoxy of ‘Rights Management,’ ” Michigan Law Review 97 (1998): 462–563, and her subsequent work, she describes the ways in which digital rights management presents fascinating echoes of the ideology of socially untrammeled property rights that dominated the first twenty years of the twentieth century in the United States and was eventually countered with the ideals of the New Deal. Finally, Jane Ginsburg, “Copyright and Control over New Technologies of Dissemination,” Columbia Law Review 101 (2001): 1613–1647, provides a more positive account, arguing that on balance—given the dangers of illicit digital copying—the DMCA’s benefits outweigh its costs.

The DMCA and Freedom of Expression

Those who are interested in the tensions between copyright law and free expression are the beneficiaries of an explosion of scholarship. I cannot begin to cite it all here. Melville Nimmer’s article from 1970, “Does Copyright Abridge the First Amendment Guarantees of Free Speech and Press?” UCLA Law Review 17 (1970): 1180–1204, is a required starting place though its full impact was not to be felt for some time. Lawrence Lessig, “Copyright’s First Amendment,” UCLA Law Review 48 (2001): 1057–1074, provides a lovely reflection of the impact of Nimmer’s arguments more than 30 years on. Neil Netanel’s book Copyright’s Paradox (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008), is the single most comprehensive work in the field and a fascinating read. Netanel’s arguments, and those of Yochai Benkler, “Free as the Air to Common Use: First Amendment Constraints on Enclosure of the Public Domain,” New York University Law Review 74 (1999): 354–446, and Jed Rubenfeld, “The Freedom of Imagination: Copyright’s Constitutionality,” Yale Law Journal 112 (2002): 1–60, have been influential on my own thinking in many areas. Bernt Hugenholtz has demonstrated that the concern about a tension between copyright law and freedom of expression is by no means limited to the United States. P. Bernt Hugenholtz, “Copyright and Freedom of Expression in Europe” in Expanding the Boundaries of Intellectual Property: Innovation Policy for the Information Society, ed. Rochelle Dreyfuss, Diane Zimmerman, and Harry First (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001), at 341. (This entire volume is superb, it should be noted.) L. Ray Patterson—an inspiration to the current generation of copyright scholars—summed up the intellectual current well when he compared the DMCA to the methods of censorship imposed by the seventeenth century Licensing Act. L. Ray Patterson, “The DMCA: A Modern Version of the Licensing Act of 1662,” Journal of Intellectual Property Law 10 (2002): 33–58.

Last, but by no means least, is the new book by my brilliant colleagues, David Lange and H. Jefferson Powell: No Law: Intellectual Property in the Image of an Absolute First Amendment (Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press, forthcoming 2008). No Law offers a fascinating thought experiment: what would a First Amendment jurisprudence look like that took seriously the premise that “no law” is allowed to restrict ‘the freedom of speech’ protected by the First Amendment and then turned its eyes on copyright? It is the answer to the question “and what exactly does ‘the freedom of speech’ permit?” that is most intriguing. Interestingly, though Lange and Powell find many copyright doctrines problematic, they are inclined to view the DMCA more charitably. I disagree for the reasons given in this chapter.



Musical borrowing is the subject of the next “graphic novel”—which is to say comic book—produced by me, Keith Aoki, and Jennifer Jenkins: Theft!: A History of Music (Durham, N.C.: Center for the Study of the Public Domain, forthcoming 2009). Our earlier effort to make intellectual property accessible to film makers and mashup artists can be found in Bound By Law (Durham, N.C.: Center for the Study of the Public Domain, 2006), available in full at An expanded edition of Bound By Law will be published in the Fall of 2008 by Duke University Press. However, neither graphic novel can provide a sense of the scholarly literature in music, musicology, law, and biography that enabled me to write this chapter.

Musical History

The indispensable guide to music history is J. Peter Burkholder, Donald Jay Grout, and Claude V. Palisca, A History of Western Music, 7th ed. (New York: W. W. Norton, 2006). For those who have access through a university or library the Grove Music database is the single most comprehensive computer-aided source: Grove Music Online, A fascinating book by Frederic Scherer, Quarter Notes and Bank Notes: The Economics of Music Composition in the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 2004), explores different incentive systems—such as patronage or markets enabled by intellectual property rights—and their respective effect on musical aesthetics and musical production. Scherer is one of the foremost contemporary economists of innovation. To have him writing about the practices of court composers and manuscript publishers is completely fascinating. At the end of the day, he diplomatically refuses to say whether patronage or market mechanisms produced “better” music but the careful reader will pick up indications of which way he leans.

Musical Borrowing

There is a vast scholarly literature on musical borrowing—indeed the discipline of musicology takes the study of borrowing, in its largest sense, as one of its main organizing themes. Beyond a personal tour provided by Professor Anthony Kelley of Duke University, I found a number of books particularly useful. Burkholder’s History (J. Peter Burkholder, Donald J. Grout, and Claude V. Palisca, A History of Western Music, 7th ed. (New York: W. W. Norton, 2006)) is full of examples of borrowing and influence—whether of style, notation, musical conventions, or melody itself. But it is Burkholder’s book on Charles Ives—that fertile early-twentieth-century borrower—that was most influential: J. Peter Burkholder, All Made of Tunes: Charles Ives and the Uses of Musical Borrowing (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1995). Ives’s own thoughts on his mashup of prior American musical forms can be found in Charles Ives, Memos, ed. John Kirkpatrick (New York: W. W. Norton, 1991), 10–25. David Metzer’s Quotation and Cultural Meaning in Twentieth-Century Music (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003), throws light on the way that quotations or borrowings came to have a particular cultural meaning in different musical traditions. Honey Meconi’s collection Early Musical Borrowing, ed. Honey Meconi (New York: Routledge, 2004), discusses—among many other things—the issue of borrowing between the secular and religious musical traditions, something that helped me work through that issue in this chapter. Finally, “Musical Borrowing: An Annotated Bibliography” ( provides a searchable database of articles about musical borrowing.

Music and Copyright Law

I was particularly influenced by two books and two articles. The books are Kembrew McLeod, Owning Culture: Authorship, Ownership and Intellectual Property Law (New York: Peter Lang, 2001), and Siva Vaidhyanathan, Copyrights and Copywrongs: The Rise of Intellectual Property and How It Threatens Creativity (New York: New York University Press, 2001). McLeod and Vaidhyanathan are the authors who sounded the alarm about the cultural and aesthetic effects of the heavy-handed legal regulation of musical borrowing. Together with the work of Larry Lessig (particularly his writing on the “permissions culture”) Lawrence Lessig, The Future of Ideas: The Fate of the Commons in a Connected World (New York: Random House, 2001), their scholarship has defined the field.

The two articles that influenced me the most focus more specifically on the details of the evolution of music on the one hand and music copyright on the other. Both of them are by Michael Carroll: “The Struggle for Music Copyright,” Florida Law Review 57 (2005): 907–961, and “Whose Music Is It Anyway?: How We Came to View Musical Expression as a Form of Property,” University of Cincinnati Law Review 72 (2004): 1405–1496. But these two pieces by no means exhaust the literature. Olufunmilayo Arewa has written memorably on copyright and musical borrowing in “Copyright on Catfish Row: Musical Borrowing, Porgy & Bess and Unfair Use,” Rutgers Law Journal 37 (2006): 277–353, and “From J. C. Bach to Hip Hop: Musical Borrowing, Copyright and Cultural Context,” North Carolina Law Review 84 (2006): 547–645. I also recommend K. J. Greene, “Copyright, Culture & Black Music: A Legacy of Unequal Protection,” Hastings Communications & Entertainment Law Journal 21 (1999): 339–392. There is much, much more. Finally, Joanna Demers’s recent book Steal This Music: How Intellectual Property Law Affects Musical Creativity (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2006), provides a more comprehensive coverage than I can hope to in a single chapter.

Beyond the scholarly literature, two websites allow you to experiment with these issues online. The History of Sampling created by Jesse Kriss,, allows you to explore visually exactly which hip-hop samplers borrowed from which older songs and to trace the process backwards or forwards. Extremely cool. The Copyright Infringement Project, sponsored by the UCLA Intellectual Property Project and Columbia Law School,, is an extremely useful educational site that gives examples of cases alleging musical copyright infringement, including the relevant sound files. The older version of this project confusingly referred to these cases as “plagiarism” cases—something that judges themselves also frequently do. Plagiarism is the moral, academic, or professional sin of taking ideas, facts or expression and passing them off as your own. If I take the central arguments from your book and completely reword them, or if I present a series of facts you uncovered as an historian and include them in my own book without attribution, you may accuse me of plagiarism, though not of copyright infringement. If I take the words of Shakespeare or Dickens and pass them off as my own, I am committing plagiarism but certainly not copyright infringement, for even under today’s rules those works have long since entered the public domain. If I credit T. S. Eliot but then proceed to reprint the entire of “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” without the permission of the copyright holders, I am committing copyright infringement, but certainly not plagiarism. At best, plagiarism and copyright infringement overlap to some extent, but each regulates large areas about which the other is indifferent. We sap the strength of both norm systems by confusing them. The new incarnation of the project, at UCLA, has removed the word “plagiarism” from its title.

The People and the Music

A brief biography of Will Lamartine Thompson can be found in C. B. Galbreath, “Song Writers of Ohio (Will Lamartine Thompson),” Ohio Archaeological and Historical Quarterly 14 (January, 1905): 291–312. Since the copyright has expired you can read it in full, and see the picture of Thompson, at,M1.

The best book on Clara Ward is Willa Ward-Royster, Toni Rose, and Horace Clarance Boyer, How I Got Over: Clara Ward and the World Famous Ward Singers (Philadelphia, Penn.: Temple University Press, 1997).

The best biography of Ray Charles is Michael Lydon, Ray Charles: Man and Music (New York: Routledge, 2004). Charles’s autobiography is also a fascinating read. Ray Charles and David Ritz, Brother Ray: Ray Charles’ Own Story (Cambridge, Mass.: Da Capo Press, 1992). Charles’s website, which contains useful biographical and discographical information, is at There is much more, of course, but these resources provide a good starting place.

There are several hagiographic biographies of Mr. West, but none worth reading. Those who have not already been inundated with information through the popular press could do worse than to start with his rather breathless Wikipedia entry

The main source of information on The Legendary K.O.—a name they now use intermittently—is their website is (I am grateful to Mr. Nickerson and Mr. Randle for confirming additional portions of the story by e-mail.) The song “George Bush Doesn’t Like Black People” is no longer available on their website, however an audio version of it is currently available at The Black Lantern’s video can be found at Franklin Lopez’s video can currently be found at Whether any of those sites will be available in a year’s time is hard to tell. Those who plan to listen or view are reminded that the lyrics are ‘explicit.’

The songs by Clara Ward, Ray Charles, and Kanye West are widely available through a variety of commercial outlets, as are several commercial versions of “Jesus is All the World to Me” by Mr. Thompson.

I would recommend The Clara Ward Singers, Meetin’ Tonight (Vanguard Records, 1994), compact disc. It includes a version of “Meetin’ Tonight: This Little Light of Mine” in which the human limits on the ability to sustain a note are broken repeatedly. Any Ray Charles compilation will feature some of the songs discussed here. The most economical is probably Ray Charles, I’ve Got a Woman & Other Hits by Ray Charles (Rhino Flashback Records, 1997), compact disc. It includes “I Got a Woman” and “This Little Girl of Mine.” Kanye West, Late Registration (Roc-a-Fella Records, 2005), compact disc, contains the full version of “Gold Digger.”

Finally, I would love to be able to play you the full version of the Bailey Gospel Singers “I Got a Savior” (B-Side: “Jesus is the Searchlight”) (Columbia Records, 1951), 78 rpm phonograph record. Unfortunately, given the legal uncertainties I am forbidden from doing so, and I know of no licit way—for free or for pay—that you can listen to it, short of traveling to the Rodgers and Hammerstein Archives of Recorded Sound at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts yourself and asking to hear the original 78. Perhaps that simple fact is the most elegant encapsulation of my argument here.



As the introduction to this chapter suggests, the intersection of intellectual property law and science and technology has been attracting considerable attention from scholars recently, some of it dismayed. The difficulty—and this is why I chose the case-study method for this chapter—is that there are multiple sets of concerns and they resist easy summary.

The first set of concerns is that the granting of intellectual property rights far “upstream”—that is very close to basic science—is impeding the process of science and technology. In addition, scholars have argued that the sheer volume of intellectual property claims will produce an anti-commons effect or patent thicket. Michael A. Heller and Rebecca S. Eisenberg, “Can Patents Deter Innovation? The Anticommons in Biomedical Research,” Science 280 (1998): 698–701. The argument here is that the closer one is to basic research the stronger the case is for leaving the information untouched by property rights—allowing all to draw on it and develop “downstream” innovations, which can then be covered by intellectual property rights. In practice, two concerns are often alluded to: the fact that much of the basic research is state funded and conducted in nonprofit universities and the belief that the transaction costs of licensing will inhibit research or concentrate it in a few hands. Research on genes indicating a propensity to breast cancer is a frequently cited example of the latter problem. Fabienne Orsi and Benjamin Coriat, “Are ‘Strong Patents’ Beneficial to Innovative Activities? Lessons from the Genetic Testing for Breast Cancer Controversies,” Industrial and Corporate Change 14 (2005): 1205–1221. But here, too, anecdote outweighs evidence. Timothy Caulfield, Robert M. Cook-Deegan, F. Scott Kieff, and John P. Walsh, “Evidence and Anecdotes: An Analysis of Human Gene Patenting Controversies,” Nature Biotechnology 24 (2006): 1091–1094. On the other side of this debate is the argument that having intellectual property rights, even on state-funded university research, will facilitate commercialization—allowing the commercial investor to know that it will acquire sufficient rights to exclude others from the innovation. This is the premise behind “Bayh-Dole,” the act (P.L. 96-517, Patent and Trademark Act Amendments of 1980; codified in 35 U.S.C. § 200–212 and implemented by 37 C.F.R. 401) that sets up the framework for technology transfer from state funded university research.

To date, the evidence for the anti-commons effect inside academia has been equivocal, at best. Walsh, Cohen, and Arora found no such effect—but one main reason for the absence of problems appeared to be that scientists were simply flouting the law (or were ignorant of it). John P. Walsh, Ashish Arora, and Wesley M. Cohen, “Effects of Research Tool Patents and Licensing on Biomedical Innovation,” in Patents in the Knowledge-Based Economy, ed. Wesley M. Cohen and Stephen A. Merrill (Washington D.C.: National Academies Press, 2003), 285–340. I would question whether a research system based on massive law-breaking is sustainable, particularly after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit clarified for us that there effectively is no academic research exemption in U.S. patent law. Madey v. Duke University, 307 F.3d 1351 (Fed. Cir. 2002). The National Research Council’s committee on the subject found few problems now but possible cause for concern in the future. Committee on Intellectual Property Rights in Genomic and Protein Research and Innovation, National Research Council, Reaping the Benefits of Genomic and Proteomic Research: Intellectual Property Rights, Innovation, and Public Health (Washington D.C.: National Academy Press, 2005). A study by the American Academy for the Advancement of Science also reported few problems, though a closer reading revealed that licensing produced delays in research—some of them considerable—but did not cause it to be abandoned. The effects were greatest on industry scientists. American Association for the Advancement of Science, Directorate for Science and Policy Programs, International Intellectual Property Experiences: A Report of Four Countries (Washington, D.C.: AAAS, 2007), available at Fiona Murray and Scott Stern, “Do Formal Intellectual Property Rights Hinder the Free Flow of Scientific Knowledge? An Empirical Test of the Anti-Commons Hypothesis,” Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization 63 (2007): 648–687, found a definite but modest anti-commons effect, restricting further research and publication on patented materials. Similar concerns have been raised about access to scientific data. J. H. Reichman and Paul Uhlir, “A Contractually Reconstructed Research Commons for Scientific Data in a Highly Protectionist Intellectual Property Environment,” Law and Contemporary Problems 66 (2003): 315–462.

What about the opposite question? Are we getting benefits from the process of increasing the use of intellectual property rights in basic university research? The best study of the effects of the current university technology transfer process found little definitive evidence of net benefits and some cause for concern that the traditional role of universities in freely supplying knowledge is being undermined. David Mowery, Richard Nelson, Bhaven Sampat, and Arvids Ziedonis, Ivory Tower and Industrial Innovation: University-Industry Technology Transfer Before and After the Bayh-Dole Act (Palo Alto, Calif.: Stanford Business Press, 2004).

Beyond the questions about the effects of upstream intellectual property rights on basic research lay the much harder questions about the effects of intellectual property rights on the development of technologies. Here there is much evidence that decisions about patent scope are vital and, as Robert Merges and Richard Nelson reveal, that poor decisions can hamper or cripple the development of disruptive technologies. Robert Merges and Richard R. Nelson, “On the Complex Economics of Patent Scope,” Columbia Law Review 90 (1990): 839–916; Suzanne Scotchmer, “Standing on the Shoulders of Giants: Cumulative Research and the Patent Law,” Journal of Economic Perspectives 5 (1991): 29–41. The fear, highlighted in this chapter, is that poor decisions about patent scope and subject matter can inhibit technological change. On the subject of that fear, there is much more evidence. James Bessen and Michael J. Meurer, Patent Failure: How Judges, Bureaucrats, and Lawyers Put Innovators at Risk (Princeton: N.J.: Princeton University Press, 2008); and Adam Jaffe and Josh Lerner, Innovation and Its Discontents: How Our Broken Patent System is Endangering Innovation and Progress, and What To Do About It (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 2004).



Distributed Creativity

The most remarkable and important book on “distributed creativity” and the sharing economy is Yochai Benkler, The Wealth of Networks: How Social Production Transforms Markets and Freedom (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 2006). Benkler sets the idea of “peer production” alongside other mechanisms of market and political governance and offers a series of powerful normative arguments about why we should prefer that future. Comprehensive though this book may seem, it is incomplete unless it is read in conjunction with one of Benkler’s essays: Yochai Benkler, “Coase’s Penguin, or, Linux and the Nature of the Firm,” Yale Law Journal 112 (2002): 369–446. In that essay, Benkler puts forward the vital argument—described in this chapter—about what collaborative production does to Coase’s theory of the firm.

Benkler’s work is hardly the only resource however. Other fine works covering some of the same themes include: Cass R. Sunstein, Infotopia: How Many Minds Produce Knowledge (New York: Oxford University Press, 2006), and Rishab Aiyer Ghosh, ed., CODE: Collaborative Ownership and the Digital Economy (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 2005), which includes an essay by me presenting an earlier version of the “second enclosure movement” argument. Clay Shirky’s recent book, Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing without Organizations (New York: Penguin Press, 2008), is an extremely readable and thoughtful addition to this body of work—it includes a more developed version of the speech I discuss. Eric Von Hippel’s Democratizing Innovation (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 2005), is a fascinating account of the way that innovation happens in more places than we have traditionally imagined—particularly in end-user communities. In one sense, this reinforces a theme of this chapter: that the “peer production” and “distributed creativity” described here is not something new, merely something that is given dramatically more salience and reach by the Web. Dan Hunter and F. Gregory Lastowka’s article, “Amateur-to-Amateur,” William & Mary Law Review 46 (2004): 951–1030, describes some of the difficulties in adapting copyright law to fit “peer production.” Finally, Jonathan Zittrain’s The Future of the Internet—And How to Stop It (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 2008)—also relevant to Chapter 10—argues that if the democratically attractive aspects of the Internet are to be saved, it can only be done through enlisting the collective energy and insight of the Internet’s users.

Free and Open Source Software

Free and open source software has been a subject of considerable interest to commentators. Glyn Moody’s Rebel Code: Linux and the Open Source Revolution (Cambridge, Mass.: Perseus Pub., 2001), and Peter Wayner’s Free for All: How Linux and the Free Software Movement Undercut the High-Tech Titans (New York: HarperBusiness, 2000), both offer readable and accessible histories of the phenomenon. Eric S. Raymond, The Cathedral and the Bazaar: Musings on Linux and Open Source by an Accidental Revolutionary, revised edition (Sebastopol, Calif.: O’Reilly, 2001), is a classic philosophy of the movement, written by a key participant—author of the phrase, famous among geeks, “given enough eyeballs, all bugs are shallow.” Steve Weber, in The Success of Open Source (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2004), offers a scholarly argument that the success of free and open source software is not an exception to economic principles but a vindication of them. I agree, though the emphasis that Benkler and I put forward is rather different. To get a sense of the argument that free software (open source software’s normatively charged cousin) is desirable for its political and moral implications, not just because of its efficiency or commercial success, one should read the essays of Richard Stallman, the true father of free software and a fine polemical, but rigorous, essayist. Richard Stallman, Free Software, Free Society: Selected Essays of Richard M. Stallman, ed. Joshua Gay (Boston: GNU Press, 2002). Another strong collection of essays can be found in Joseph Feller, Brian Fitzgerald, Scott A. Hissam, and Karim R. Lakhani, eds., Perspectives on Free and Open Source Software (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 2005). If you only have time to read a single essay on the subject it should be Eben Moglen’s “Anarchism Triumphant: Free Software and the Death of Copyright,” First Monday 4 (1999), available at

Creative Commons

Creative Commons has only just begun to attract its own chroniclers. Larry Lessig, its founder, provides a characteristically eloquent account in “The Creative Commons,” Montana Law Review 65 (2004): 1–14. Michael W. Carroll, a founding board member, has produced a thought-provoking essay discussing the more general implications of organizations such as Creative Commons. Michael W. Carroll, “Creative Commons and the New Intermediaries,” Michigan State Law Review, 2006, n.1 (Spring): 45–65. Minjeong Kim offers an empirical study of Creative Commons licenses in “The Creative Commons and Copyright Protection in the Digital Era: Uses of Creative Commons Licenses,” Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication 13 (2007): Article 10, available at However, simply because of the rapidity of adoption of Creative Commons licenses, the work is already dramatically out of date. My colleague Jerome Reichman and Paul Uhlir of the National Academy of Sciences have written a magisterial study of the way in which tools similar to Creative Commons licenses could be used to lower transaction costs in the flow of scientific and technical data. J. H. Reichman and Paul Uhlir, “A Contractually Reconstructed Research Commons for Scientific Data in a Highly Protectionist Intellectual Property Environment,” Law and Contemporary Problems 66 (2003): 315–462. Finally, the gifted author, David Bollier, is reportedly writing a book on Creative Commons entitled Viral Spiral: How the Commoners Built a Digital Republic of Their Own (New York: New Press, forthcoming 2009).

Niva Elkin-Koren offers a more critical view of Creative Commons in “Exploring Creative Commons: A Skeptical View of a Worthy Pursuit,” in The Future of the Public Domain—Identifying the Commons in Information Law, ed. P. Bernt Hugenholtz and Lucie Guibault (The Hague: Kluwer Law International, 2006). Elkin-Koren’s argument is that Creative Commons has an unintended negative effect by leading individuals to think of themselves through the reified categories of legal subjects and property owners—forcing into a legalized realm something that should simply be experienced as culture. Elkin-Koren is a perceptive and influential scholar; some of her early work on bulletin boards for example, was extremely important in explaining the stakes of regulating the Internet to a group of judges and policy makers. I also acknowledge the truth of her theoretical point; in many ways Creative Commons is offered as a second best solution. But I am unconvinced by the conclusion. Partly, this is because I think Elkin-Koren’s account of the actual perceptions of license users is insufficiently grounded in actual evidence. Partly, it is because I think the legalization—undesirable though it may be in places—has already happened. Now we must deal with it. Partly, it is because I believe that many of the activities that the licenses enable—a global commons of free educational materials, for example—simply cannot be produced any other way in the political reality we face, and I have a preference for lighting candles rather than lamenting the darkness.



Database Rights

Mark J. Davison, The Legal Protection of Databases (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003), provides a fine introduction to the legal, and legalistic, issues surrounding the legal protection of databases. Precisely because of the need to focus on those issues, and that audience, the discussion is internal to the conceptual categories of the various legal systems he discusses, rather than focusing on the external questions I discuss here. Insiders will find the discussion indispensable. Outsiders may find it hermetic. For those readers, an article by Davison and Hugenholtz may be more accessible. It points out the ways in which the European Court of Justice has tried to rein in the database right. Mark J. Davison and P. Bernt Hugenholtz, “Football Fixtures, Horseraces and Spinoffs: The ECJ Domesticates the Database Right,” European Intellectual Property Review 27, no. 3 (2005): 113–118.

When it comes to the general intellectual framework for thinking about database rights, Jerome Reichman and Pamela Samuelson provide the germinal point of view: J. H. Reichman and Pamela Samuelson, “Intellectual Property Rights in Data?” Vanderbilt Law Review 50 (1997): 51–166. Frequent readers of Reichman will be unsurprised that “take and pay” liability rules make an appearance as a possible solution. Yochai Benkler’s article, “Constitutional Bounds of Database Protection: The Role of Judicial Review in the Creation and Definition of Private Rights in Information,” Berkeley Technology Law Journal 15 (2000): 535–604, indicates the free expression and self-determination problems presented by intellectual property rights over facts. By contrast, J. H. Reichman and Paul F. Uhlir, “Database Protection at the Crossroads: Recent Developments and Their Impact on Science and Technology,” Berkeley Technology Law Journal 14 (1999): 793–838, point out their negative effects on science and technological development. Increasingly, science will depend on the recombination of multiple databases to solve problems. At first, this will be done for huge and important projects. But increasingly, it will be done to solve smaller problems—scientists will seek to mix and mash a variety of data sources into an interoperable whole in order to solve the scientific problem du jour. Unfortunately, there are many obstacles to this promising tendency to harness digital technology to scientific research. Some of them are technical, some social, some semantic, some legal. One of the legal problems is posed by the expansion of database rights: the tendency to have intellectual property rights penetrate down to the most basic, unoriginal, or atomic level of data—a move that, as I point out in this chapter, is empirically shown to be counterproductive. Stephen M. Maurer, P. Bernt Hugenholtz, and Harlan J. Onsrud, “Europe’s Database Experiment,” Science 294 (2001): 789–780. Further information on the various barriers to data aggregation can be gleaned from the website of Science Commons (, an organization with which I am associated.

Evidence-based Policy

The move toward evidence-based policy has garnered considerable support in academia, but, as yet, only a little traction among policy makers. Readers interested in exploring the issue further can find a series of my Financial Times’s articles on the subject at James Bessen and Michael J. Meurer, Patent Failure: How Judges, Bureaucrats, and Lawyers Put Innovators at Risk (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 2008), is a sterling example of the way in which we could and should be looking at policy proposals. That book’s list of references provides a nice overview of recent work in the field. As the title indicates, Bessen and Meurer do not grade our current system highly. Adam Jaffe and Josh Lerner, Innovation and Its Discontents: How Our Broken Patent System is Endangering Innovation and Progress, and What To Do About It (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 2004), offers an earlier, and similar, assessment backed by data rather than faith. For us to have evidence-based policy, we need actual evidence. Here the work of empiricists such as my colleague Wes Cohen has proven vital. Much of this work is comparative in nature—relying on the kind of “natural experiment” I describe in this chapter. A fine example is provided by Wesley M. Cohen, Akira Goto, Akiya Nagata, Richard R. Nelson, and John P. Walsh, “R&D Spillovers, Patents and the Incentives to Innovate in Japan and the United States,” Research Policy 31 (2002): 1349–67.

All of this may seem obvious. Where else would intellectual property academics turn in order to assess the effect of various policy alternatives than to empirical and comparative data? Yet as the chapter points out, that simple conclusion has yet to become a standard assumption in the making of policy. The Gowers Review mentioned in the chapter is a nice example of how things might be otherwise. Gowers Review of Intellectual Property (London: HMSO, 2006), available at Of course, a turn to evidence is only the beginning. It hardly means that the evidence will be clear, the points of view harmonious, or the normative assessments shared. But at least the conversation is beginning from a rooting in facts rather than faith.

Publicly Generated Information

Access to public, or state generated, data is not simply a matter of economic efficiency. Wouter Hins and Dirk Voorhoof, “Access to State-Held Information as a Fundamental Right under the European Convention on Human Rights,” European Constitutional Law Review 3 (2007): 114–126. But in efficiency terms, it does seem to present some clear benefits. Peter Weiss, “Borders in Cyberspace: Conflicting Government Information Policies and their Economic Impacts,” in Open Access and the Public Domain in Digital Data and Information for Science: Proceedings of an International Symposium (Washington, D.C.: National Academies Press, 2004), 69–73. The issues of publicly generated information are particularly pressing in geospatial data—which can be vital for academic research and economic development. Bastiaan van Loenen and Harlan Onsrud, “Geographic Data for Academic Research: Assessing Access Policies,” Cartography and Geographic Information Science 31 (2004): 3–17. It is an issue that is gaining attention in Europe: “Directive 2003/98/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 November 2003 on the Re-use of Public Sector Information,” Official Journal of the European Union 46 (31.12.2003) 90–96 (L 345). However, there is a long way to go.

Sound Recording Rights

A good place to start is the Gowers Review, cited above, and the report generated by the Centre for Intellectual Property and Information Law, University of Cambridge, Review of the Economic Evidence Relating to an Extension of the Term of Copyright in Sound Recordings (2006), available at My own views are close to those put forward by this excellent article: Natali Helberger, Nicole Dufft, Stef van Gompel, and Bernt Hugenholtz, “Never Forever: Why Extending the Term of Protection for Sound Recordings is a Bad Idea,” European Intellectual Property Review 30 (2008): 174–181.



Those who are interested in the evolution of the analogy between environmentalism and the movement to recognize and safeguard the public domain can start with the editors’ introductions to the Symposium Cultural Environmentalism @ 10, James Boyle and Lawrence Lessig, eds., Law and Contemporary Problems 70 (2007) 1–21, available at

The single best chronicle of the Access to Knowledge (“A2K”) movement is Amy Kapczynski, “The Access to Knowledge Mobilization and the New Politics of Intellectual Property,” Yale Law Journal 117 (2008): 804–885. Lawrence Lessig’s work has been a common point of reference: Lawrence Lessig, The Future of Ideas: The Fate of the Commons in a Connected World (New York: Random House, 2001), and Lawrence Lessig, Free Culture (New York: Penguin, 2004). Many of the key political initiatives have come from James Love and the Consumer Project on Technology. A wealth of material can be found at and at Knowledge Ecology International, The inaugural edition of the journal Knowledge Ecology Studies presents an informal discussion of the origins of the idea at

For the ways in which the A2K movement has involved both criticism of and attempts to reform international bodies such as the World Intellectual Property Organization (“WIPO”) see James Boyle, “A Manifesto on WIPO and the Future of Intellectual Property,” Duke Law and Technology Review 0009 (2004): 1–12, available at, and Christopher May, The World Intellectual Property Organization: Resurgence and the Development Agenda (London: Routledge, 2006).

The minimalist or antimonopolistic attitude toward intellectual property has a long history, as this book has tried to show. The specific concern with the public domain is of more recent origin. The foundational essay was published by my colleague David Lange, “Recognizing the Public Domain,” Law and Contemporary Problems 44, no. 4 (1981): 147–178. I would also recommend Collected Papers, Duke Conference on the Public Domain, ed. James Boyle (Durham, N.C.: Center for the Study of the Public Domain, 2003), which contains scholarly articles on the history, constitutional status, scientific importance, musical significance, property theory, and economic effects of the public domain. The entire volume can be read online at

Finally, Duke’s Center for the Study of the Public Domain, which has generously supported the writing of this book has a wide variety of resources—ranging from scholarly texts to films and comic books—on the subjects of intellectual property, the public domain and idea of an environmentalism for information. Those resources can be found at