The Economics of Intellectual Property

Mar 23, 2005


Dr. Stanley Liebowitz
Professor of Managerial Economics
School of Management, University of Texas at Dallas 

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The Founders were well aware of the importance of establishing legal protections and economic incentives to encourage creativity and invention. With the constitutional rewards of copyright and patent, the Founders struck a delicate balance between the need to encourage innovation and the desire to avoid unnecessarily restricting consumption and competition.

But it’s unlikely that the Founders could have ever imagined the dramatic technological progress we’ve experienced over the past two-hundred and twenty five years. Advanced computer software, digital reproduction technologies, and “peer-to-peer” networks are but a few of the new technologies that are stretching the boundaries of intellectual property law to its limits. Debates over how to define, license, and protect intellectual property rights rage hotter than ever before.

As Congress contemplates changes to “the rules of the IP game,” it’s critical for policymakers to understand exactly what’s at stake. Dr. Stan Liebowitz, a leading IP economist, will help clarify this complex issue and present staff with a framework to better assess legislative proposals that cross their desks. By discussing specific examples – including the current debates over file sharing and peer-to-peer networks - attendees will learn about the fundamental issues at hand. Some questions that will be covered in this session include:

  • What is intellectual property? How does it differ from physical property?
  • What unique challenges does IP present to policymakers?
  • Can copyright law and peer-to-peer (P2P) networks coexist?
  • How might economics inform the IP debate?