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According to a recent study by a global intellectual property firm, 80 percent of the market valuation of the S&P 500 is accounted for by forms of intangible property, which emphasizes that intangible knowledge is one of the biggest producers of wealth in today's society. On Tuesday, AEI's Center for Internet, Communications, and Technology Policy hosted a discussion of conservatives' varying viewpoints of copyright law.
Stan Liebowitz of the University of Texas at Dallas argued that copyrights are simply another form of property rights: they prevent nonpermitted borrowing and plagiarism, not creativity and free speech. Mark Schultz of George Mason University School of Law furthermore stressed that copyrights are important because they support individual liberty, human flourishing, and freedom of expression and inquiry.
Tom Palmer of the Atlas Economic Research Foundation, however, voiced his skepticism regarding the moral and economic arguments that copyright proponents employ. Jerry Brito of the Mercatus Center maintained that the contours of current copyright laws need to be reformed, calling for a reevaluation of term length and of requirements for reapplying.
Finally, an audience question-and-answer session addressed topics such as exclusive versus nonexclusive uses, compulsory licenses, digital piracy, and the importance of incentives and rights in the copyright debate.
Recent years have seen a growing divergence in conservatives’ attitudes toward copyright law. While most still hold that copyrights, as a form of property rights, are vital to rewarding creativity and ensuring well-functioning markets, others worry that overly expansive copyrights could reduce innovation and do more harm than good.
Please join AEI’s Center for Internet, Communications, and Technology Policy for a roundtable discussion of how conservatives should approach fundamental reforms in copyright law and policy. We invite you to follow the discussion on Twitter using #ConservativesOnCopyright.
If you are unable to attend, we welcome you to watch the event live on this page. Full video will be posted within 24 hours.
Jerry Brito, Mercatus Center
Stan Liebowitz, University of Texas at Dallas
Tom Palmer, Atlas Economic Research Foundation
Mark Schultz, George Mason University School of Law
Jeffrey Eisenach, AEI
For more information, please contact Guro Ekrann at [email protected], 202.862.5882.
For media inquiries, please contact [email protected], 202.862.5829.
Jerry Brito is a senior research fellow at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University. He serves as the director of its technology policy program and as adjunct professor of law, where his research focuses on copyright and technology policy. Brito’s op-eds have appeared in The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times, among other outlets. He coauthored “Regulation: A Primer” (Mercatus Center, 2012) and is the editor of “Copyright Unbalanced: From Incentive to Excess” (Mercatus Center, 2012). He is a contributing writer for Technology Liberation Front, an influential technology policy blog for which he has reported on copyright issues. Brito hosts “Surprisingly Free,” a weekly half-hour podcast covering topics at the intersection of technology, policy, and economics.
Jeffrey Eisenach is a visiting scholar at AEI and director for AEI’s Center for Internet, Communications, and Technology Policy. Eisenach has served in senior positions at the Federal Trade Commission and the Office of Management and Budget. At AEI, he focuses on policies affecting the information technology sector, innovation, and entrepreneurship. Eisenach is also a senior vice president at NERA Economic Consulting and an adjunct professor at the George Mason University School of Law, where he teaches Regulated Industries. He writes on a wide range of issues, including industrial organization, communications policy and the Internet, government regulations, labor economics, and public finance. He has also taught at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government and at the Virginia Polytechnic Institute.
Stan Liebowitz is the Ashbel Smith Professor and head of the University of Texas at Dallas’s Center for the Analysis of Property Rights and Innovation, one of the first think tanks to study intellectual property rights in the digital realm. He is a leading expert on copyright issues, beginning with a study for the Canadian Government on the impact of photocopying, portions of which were later published in the Journal of Political Economy and American Economic Review. In 2006, he served as president of the Society for Economic Research on Copyright Issues after providing its first keynote address in 2003. He has performed research on the economic impact of piracy, the strength of the copyright monopoly, and the rise of file-sharing and noncopyright issues such as network effects and path dependence. Liebowitz, who is listed in “Who’s Who in Economics” (Edward Elgar Pub, 2003), is the author of more than 60 academic articles, 5 books, and numerous nonacademic articles. He testified in the LimeWire case and his copyright research has been cited by the US Supreme Court.
Tom Palmer is the executive vice president for international programs at the Atlas Economic Research Foundation, where he coordinated operating programs in 14 languages for a global network of think tanks. He is also a senior fellow at the Cato Institute. He has published in law reviews on the morality, law, and economics of intellectual property. Palmer is the author of “Realizing Freedom: Libertarian Theory, History and Practice” (Cato Institute, 2014) and the editor of “The Morality of Capitalism: What Your Professors Won’t Tell You” (Jameson Books, 2011), “After the Welfare State: Politicians Stole Your Future, You Can Get It Back” (Jameson Books, 2012), “Why Liberty: Your Life, Your Choices, Your Future” (Jameson Books, 2013), and the forthcoming volume “Peace, Love, & Liberty.” His articles on politics and morality have been published in the Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, and The Washington Post, among others.
Mark Schultz is cofounder and codirector of academic programs at the Center for the Protection of Intellectual Property at George Mason University School of Law and serves as an associate professor of law at Southern Illinois University. He has taught, written, and lectured extensively on copyright, trade secrets, and global intellectual property law and policy in the US and abroad. He is currently working with the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development to construct a groundbreaking global trade secret protection index. He recently testified before the US Congress on copyright law. Before joining academia, he practiced law for a decade, serving as outside general counsel to several tech startups and helping technology companies expand their businesses and commercialize their intellectual property in dozens of countries. He has been a distinguished visiting scholar at the University of Botswana, served as chair of the Federalist Society’s Intellectual Property Practice Group, chair of the Association of American Law Schools’ Section on Internet and Computer Law, and nongovernmental organization delegate to the World Intellectual Property Organization. He is currently chair of the academic advisory board of the Copyright Alliance.