Document Type



California Law Review





Regulatory arbitrage—defined as the manipulation of regulatory treatment for the purpose of reducing regulatory costs or increasing statutory earnings—is often seen in heavily regulated industries. An increase in the regulatory nature of copyright, coupled with rapid technological advances and evolving consumer preferences, have led to an unprecedented proliferation of regulatory arbitrage in the area of copyright law. This Article offers a new scholarly account of the phenomenon herein referred to as “copyright arbitrage.”

In some cases, copyright arbitrage may work to expose and/or correct for an extant gap or inefficiency in the regulatory regime. In other cases, copyright arbitrage may contravene one or another of copyright’s foundational goals of incentivizing the creation of, and ensuring access to, copyrightable works. In either case, the existence of copyright arbitrage provides strong support for the classification (and clarification) of copyright as a complex regulatory regime in need of a strong regulatory apparatus.

This Article discusses several options available for identifying and curbing problematic copyright arbitrage. First, courts can take a purposive, substantive approach to interpretations of the Copyright Act. Second, Congress can empower a regulatory agency with rulemaking and enforcement authority. Finally, antitrust law can help to curb the anticompetitive effects of copyright arbitrage resulting from legislative capture.


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