Dotan Oliar

  • Professor of Law

Dotan Oliar’s scholarship focuses on human creativity. He teaches courses on intellectual property law, entrepreneurship, and law and economics. He writes on those topics and their intersection with empirical and behavioral methods, legal history, property theory and cyberlaw. His recent projects include an empirical analysis of copyright registrations at the U.S. Copyright Office, the interaction between expressive creativity and technological change, the scope of Congress’s intellectual property power under the U.S. Constitution and joke ownership social norms among standup comedians.

Oliar’s scholarship has been published in leading journals, including the Georgetown Law Journal and the Stanford, Texas, UCLA and Virginia Law Reviews. His work was selected for presentation in several fora, including the annual meetings of the American, Canadian and European law and economics associations, and the Stanford/Yale Junior Faculty Forum. He was a visiting professor at NYU and Tel-Aviv law schools.

Oliar holds an S.J.D. from Harvard Law School. His dissertation advances a new construction of the Constitution’s intellectual property clause. His LL.M. thesis — an economic analysis of the fair use doctrine on the Internet — won the Harvard Law School Irving Oberman Award for Best Essay on The Internet and the Law. He served as a fellow at Harvard’s Olin Center for Law and Economics and Berkman Center for Internet & Society, where he helped found Creative Commons.

Prior to attending Harvard, Oliar received his LL.B. (magna cum laude, 1st in class) and B.A. in philosophy (magna cum laude) from Tel-Aviv University, where he studied as a fellow in the university-wide Adi Lautman Program for Outstanding Students. After graduating from Tel-Aviv University, Oliar clerked for Justice Jacob Kedmi on the Israeli Supreme Court.

Scholarship Profile: Exploring Motivations to Create (Virginia Journal 2017)


  • M.A.
    University of Virginia Graduate School of Arts & Sciences
  • S.J.D.
    Harvard Law School
  • LL.M.
    Harvard Law School
  • LL.B.
    Tel Aviv University
  • B.A.
    Tel Aviv University


Are Men and Women Creating Equal? Contextualizing Copyright and Gender (with Marliese Dalton), in Intellectual Property, Innovation, and Global Inequality, Cambridge University Press (2021).
Are Men and Women Creating Equal? Contextualizing Copyright and Gender (with Marliese Dalton), in Intellectual Property, Innovation, and Global Inequality (2021).

Book Chapters

Empirical Studies of Copyright Registration, in Research Handbook on the Economics of Intellectual Property Law, Edward Elgar, 533–546 (2019).
Federal Powers, Intellectual Property, in American Governance, Macmillan Reference USA, 177–181 (2016).
Intellectual Property Norms in Stand Up Comedy (with Christopher Sprigman), in Making and Unmaking Intellectual Property: Creative Production in Legal and Cultural Perspective, University of Chicago Press, 385–398 (2011).

Articles & Reviews

Opting Out of Liability Rules (reviewing Kristelia Garcia, Super-Statutory Contracting, 95 Washington Law Review 1783 (2020)) JOTWELL (2020).
Right On Time: A Reply to Professors Allen, Claeys, Epstein, Gordon, Holbrook, Mossoff, Rose, and Van Houweling (with James Y. Stern), 100 Boston University Law Review Online 48–56 (2020).
Personalizing Copyright Law Using Consumer Demographics (reviewing Adi Libson & Gideon Parchomovsky, Toward the Personalization of Copyright Law, 86 U. Chi. L. Rev. 527 (2019)) JOTWELL (2019).
Right on Time: First Possession in Property and Intellectual Property (with James Y. Stern), 99 Boston University Law Review 395–458 (2019).
IP Norms’ Dark Side (reviewing Stephanie Bair & Laura Pedraza-Farina, Anti-Innovation Norms, 112 Northwestern Law Review 1069 (2018)) JOTWELL (2018).
An Empirical Study of the Race, Ethnicity, Gender, and Age of Copyright Registrants (with Robert Brauneis), 86 George Washington Law Review 46–98 (2018).
Copyright’s Interpretive Turn (reviewing Zahr Said, Reforming Copyright Interpretation (28 Harv. J.L. & Tech. 469 (2015))) JOTWELL (2016).
Quantifying the Copyright-Innovation Interference (reviewing Joel Waldfogel, Copyright Protection, Technological Change, and the Quality of New Products: Evidence from Recorded Music Since Napster (55 J.L. & Econ. 715 (2012))) JOTWELL (2014).
Copyright Registrations: Who, What, When, Where, and Why (with Nathaniel Pattison & K. Ross Powell), 92 Texas Law Review 2211–2248 (2014).
Copyright Preregistration: Evidence and Lessons from the First Seven Years, 2005-2012 (with Nicholas Matich), 55 Arizona Law Review 1073–1139 (2013).
Bill Patry's War on Copyright Rhetoric (reviewing William Patry, Moral Panics and the Copyright Wars (Oxford University Press, 2009)) JOTWELL (2010).
From Corn to Norms: How IP Entitlements Affect What Stand-Up Comedians Create (with Christopher Sprigman), 95 Virginia Law Review in Brief 57–66 (2009).
The (Constitutional) Convention on IP: A New Reading, 57 UCLA Law Review 421–480 (2009).

Op-Eds, Blogs, Shorter Works

“That Ain’t Right!” (with Christopher Sprigman), IP Law & Business 17 (December, 2008).

Current Courses

All Courses

Art Law
Current Issues in Intellectual Property Law
Intellectual Property: A Survey of Patent, Copyright, Trademark
Intellectual Property: Copyright
Intellectual Property: Trademark
Introduction to Law and Economics
Intellectual Property Law Policy (seminar)
Internet Law
Israeli Business Law and Innovation (short course)
Advanced Issues in IP Policy (short course)
Seminar in Ethical Values



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