More than a Metaphor: Frischmann on the Economics of Speech and the First Amendment

First_amendment_area_Muir_Woods.jpgBrett Frischmann has just posted an essay, A Note on the Economics of the First Amendment: Sustaining a Spillover Rich Networked Environment, to SSRN. The essay is part of the University of Chicago Legal Forum in 2008. In the essay, Brett “explores how the First Amendment may operate to sustain a spillover rich networked environment.” In other words, the First Amendment seems to “promote[] externalities and sustain[] an externality-rich environment.” The ideas in the paper touch on whether all externalities must be internalized. It argues that in some cases, such as speech, externalities are desired and that the First Amendment may thus be understood as fostering externalities. So for those interested in a concise presentation of externalities and how to understand them, the piece is more than helpful. In addition, the essay takes that understanding and offers a stimulating idea regarding how speech externalities seem to be the types of externalities that should be internalized, yet are not. The description of why they are not is well worth the time as it points to understanding “the nature of tradeoffs made in the law—in the First Amendment area, but also, in copyright, communications, and other areas that look like broad exceptions to the First Amendment.”

Image: This is sign at one of my favorite places, Muir Woods which is just north of San Francisco. It was taken by Brandt Luke Zorn and may be found at Wikicommons. Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 2.0 license

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