Arnold Kling

Compulsory Licensing?

Arnold Kling, Great Questions of Economics
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Lawyers are becoming more aggressive in defining and defending intellectual property rights. After looking at several absurd examples, Greg Reynolds suggests,

But the real problem isn't so much the money extracted by these monopolies. It's the hassle, and the paralyzing fear of litigation. That could be dealt with simply by requiring compulsory licensing...

As an economist, my first thought what price? The copyright owner wants a large fee, while the user wants a small fee. If the owner sets the license fee, we are back to where we started. If the user sets the fee, then the owners are bound to feel that something they worked hard to create has been confiscated.

Maybe I'm missing something, but I think that you need to spell out the process for setting the license fee. Otherwise, I do not see how Reynolds' proposal gets us any closer to a solution.

Discussion Question. A slogan developed in a two-hour brainstorming session and a drug formula developed after years of research would both be considered intellectual property. Is there a single legal principle that can be applied to both equally well?

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