Should copyright infringement claims be treated as marketable assets? Copyright law has long emphasized the free and independent alienability of its exclusive rights. Yet, the right to sue for infringement—which copyright law grants authors in order to render its exclusive rights operational—has never been thought of as independently assignable, or indeed as the target of investments by third parties. As a result, discussions of copyright law and policy rarely consider the possibility of an acquisition or investment market emerging for actionable copyright claims and the advantages that such a market might hold for copyright’s goals, objectives, and functioning. This Essay analyzes the opportunities and challenges presented by an independent market for copyright claims, and argues that copyright law, policy, and practice would stand to benefit from the regulated involvement of third parties in acquiring, financing, bringing, and defending infringement claims.
Columbia Law Review COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT MARKETS