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Is Efficient Copyright a Reasonable Goal?
By Stan J. Liebowitz
If we could create an economically efficient copyright law, would we want to do so? This Essay argues that society should not favor an economically efficient copyright law. As this Essay describes, a social welfare-maximizing copyright law amounts to an attempt to restrict the economic profit (rents) going to creators to no more than the amount which is required to induce the creator to produce the work. A perfectly ideal and flexible copyright law would remove all rents going to all creators. Elsewhere in the economy, however, we do not find government policies attempting to remove rents from labor. It does not, therefore, seem “right” or “fair” or “just” to remove the rents for just one category of labor—workers in what are sometimes termed the “creative” industries, comprising music, the arts, movies, and so forth. Maximizing social welfare in copyright amounts to a government intrusion into labor incomes, an outcome considered unacceptable in other parts of the economy.
About This Content
 
Keywords: Liebowitz, efficiency, copyright law, incentives, economically efficient copyright laws, governmental intrusion
Content Type: Article
Media Type: Print
Author: Stan J. Liebowitz
Publish Date: September 2011
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