Decoding and recoding natural monopoly, deregulation, and intellectual property

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16 Scopus citations


Intellectual property scholarship has recently demonstrated a shift from the metaphor of property to that of natural monopoly. In this Article, the author responds to the metaphor of natural monopoly with a three-part argument. First, the author identifies the use of natural monopoly rhetoric in intellectual property. Second, the author decodes the uses of natural monopoly rhetoric using economic theory. Third, the author recodes natural monopoly language in intellectual property debates by reference to criticisms of natural monopoly in the debate over deregulation of traditional natural monopolies, such as public utilities and airlines. The recoding of intellectual property through the terms of deregulation helps identify three often overlooked, but compelling, interests in intellectual property reform: (1) the role of the consumer, (2) the role of competition, and (3) the role of administrative agencies. The identification of these three interests highlights ways in which intellectual property can be deregulated and transformed into a new regulatory regime that is responsive to interests other than the private property interests of the intellectual property owner. The Article concludes by applying this revitalized conception of intellectual property to the policy debates over experimental use, fair use, and administrative reform in patents and copyright.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1125-1184
Number of pages60
JournalUniversity of Illinois Law Review
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2008
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Law


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