Tom Bell on copyright reform

Tom Bell

December 4, 2012 · 2 comments

Tom W. Bell, professor of law at Chapman University and author of the concluding essay in Copyright Unbalanced, a new book edited by Surprisingly Free’s own Jerry Brito, discusses the ways in which copyright has evolved over time and why reform is vital.

Bell differentiates copyright from other types of property, arguing that conflating the two terms causes great confusion amongst laypeople and, over time, corrodes the value placed in tangible property rights. According to Bell, copyright is a privilege created by statute that doesn’t exist in a state of nature and is not recognized by common law.

As a special type of economic good, copyright must be treated differently than tangible property rights, according to Bell, who outlines five proposals for copyright reform.

While Bell is not opposed to copyright, he argues that copyright enforcement has gone too far, and lawmakers should structure policies to lead us towards a world in which we conceivably do without it.



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  • Taxpayer

    Learned a lot from this interview, thanks.
    One of the participants noted that the new Copyright Unbalanced book could be purchased from Amazon in either hardcopy or e-book form.  When I went to the Amazon site at there was no indication that any Kindle or other e-book format is available, either for purchase or license. 

  • Stan Tsirulnikov

    A Kindle version of the e-book is now available (bought it this morning).