How intellectual property law impacts the creative industries is mediated by how human actors understand and react to the intellectual property system. This chapter discusses the results of a series of experiments on Americans’ perceptions and understanding of intellectual property law. The studies reveal that lay perceptions of intellectual property law do not align with any of the commonly propounded bases for the intellectual property system. Rather, the most common response among lay individuals is that intellectual property law exists to prevent plagiarism. Intellectual property attorneys’ responses, on the other hand, display significant alignment with an incentive approach to intellectual property rights. Even for intellectual property attorneys, however, there is still variation in their intellectual property perceptions and in how their perceptions align with opinions on about the strength of intellectual property protection. These results have significant implications for the legitimacy and functionality of intellectual property law.
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