Intellectual Property’s Great Fallacy

Intellectual property law has long been justified on the belief that external incentives are necessary to get people to produce artistic works and technological innovations that are easily copied. This Essay argues that this foundational premise of the economic theory of intellectual property is wrong. Using recent advances in behavioral economics, psychology, and business-management studies, it is now possible to show that there are natural and intrinsic motivations that will cause technology and the arts to flourish even in the absence of externally supplied rewards, such as copyrights and patents.

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