Thursday, April 14, 2011

David Fagundes on Roller Derby IP

Can you learn something about intellectual property by studying roller derby girls? Apparently yes: David Fagundes (Southwestern Law) has posted an entertaining new article, Talk Derby to Me: Emergent Intellectual Property Norms Governing Roller Derby Pseudonyms (forthcoming in the Texas Law Review). Fagundes expands on work by Robert Ellickson and others on the role of social norms in creating order without law. From the abstract:
This analysis of derby names shows that IP norms emerge independently of law’s substantive (un)availability, so long as the relevant group is close-knit and the norms are welfare-maximizing. These groups are especially likely to craft formal regulation and registration schemes to buttress informal norms where the relevant community is identity-constitutive, and where the intangible goods arise from nonmarket production. In addition to this critique of existing explanations for IP norm emergence, this study suggests a counter-theory for the emergence of user-generated IP governance systems, casts (further) doubt on the coherence of the prevailing neoclassical economic assumptions underlying IP law, and calls into question what it means for rules to be law.
If, like me, you hadn't heard of roller derby pseudonyms, check out the description of them on pp. 11-12, with names including Tara Armov, Paris Killton, Venus de Maul'r, Paris Troika, Madam Ovary, and Raven Seaward.

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