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 Ben-Oliel et al., eds., Intellectual Property, Innovation, and Global Inequality (forthcoming, 2020). 

“Opting Out of Liability Rules,” (reviewing Kristelia García, “Super-Statutory Contracting,” 94 Wash. L. Rev. ___ (2020)), Jotwell (May 2020).

“Personalizing Copyright Law Using Consumer Demographics,” (reviewing Adi Libson & Gideon Parchomovsky, “Toward the Personalization of Copyright Law,” 86 Chi. L. Rev. 527 (2019)), Jotwell (May 2019).

"Right on Time: First Possession in Property and Intellectual Property" (with James Stern), 99 Boston University L. Rev. 395 (2019).

“IP Norms’ Dark Side” (reviewing Stephanie Bair & Laura Pedraza-Fariña, “Anti-Innovation Norms,” 116 Nw. U. L. Rev. 1069 (2018)), Jotwell (May 2018).

"An Empirical Study of the Race, Ethnicity, Gender, and Age of Copyright Registrants" (with Robert Bauneis), 86 Geo. Wash. L. Rev. 46 (2018).
SSRN | HeinOnline (PDF)

"Empirical Studies of Copyright Registration," in Research Handbook on the Economics of Intellectual Property Law, Vol. IIEds. Peter S. Menell & David L. Schwartz.  (Edward Elgar Publishing, 2017). 

“Federal Powers: Intellectual Property,” in 2 Stephen L. Schechter, ed., American Governance 177 (Macmillan Reference USA, 2016). 

“Copyright’s Interpretive Turn,” (reviewing Zahr Said, “Reforming Copyright Interpretation,” 28 Harv. J.L. & Tech. 469 (2015)), Jotwell (June 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 (January 2014).

"Copyright Registrations: Who, What, When, Where, and Why" (with Nate Pattison and Ross Powell), 92 Tex. L. Rev. 2211 (2014).
SSRN | HeinOnline (PDF)

"Copyright Preregistration: Evidence and Lessons from the First Seven Years, 2005-2012" (with Nicholas Matich), 55 Ariz. L. Rev. 1073 (2013).
SSRN | HeinOnline (PDF)

“The Copyright-Innovation Trade-Off: Property Rules, Liability Rules, and Intentional Infliction of Harm”, 64 Stan. L. Rev. 951 (2012).
SSRN | HeinOnline (PDF)

"Intellectual Property Norms in Stand-Up Comedy" (with Chris Sprigman), in Mario Biagioli, Peter Jaszi & Martha Woodmansee, eds., Making and Unmaking Intellectual Property: Creative Production in Legal and Cultural Perspective 385 (University of Chicago Press, 2011).

“Bill Patry’s War on Copyright Rhetoric,” (reviewing William Patry, “Moral Panics and the Copyright Wars”  (2009)), (May 2010).


"The (Constitutional) Convention on IP: A New Reading," 57 UCLA L. Rev. 421 (2009).
SSRN | HeinOnline (PDF)

“From Corn to Norms: How IP Entitlements Affect What Stand-Up Comedians Create” (with Chris Sprigman), 95 Va. L. Rev. In Brief 57 (2009).

“There’s No Free Laugh (Anymore): The Emergence of Intellectual Property Norms and the Transformation of Stand-Up Comedy" (with Chris Sprigman), 94 Va. L. Rev. 1789 (2008). 
SSRN | HeinOnline (PDF)

“Alternatives to the Copyright Power: The Relationship of the Copyright Clause to the Commerce Clause and the Treaty Power” (panelist), 30 Colum. J.L. & Arts 287 (2007).
HeinOnline (PDF)

"Resolving Conflicts among Congress’s Powers Regarding Statutes’ Constitutionality: The Case of Anti-Bootlegging Statutes," 30 Colum. J.L. & Arts 467 (2007).

"Making Sense of the Intellectual Property Clause: Promotion of Progress as a Limitation on Congress's Intellectual Property Power," 94 Geo. L.J. 1771 (2006).
SSRN | HeinOnline (PDF)

"Incentives to Create Under a 'Lifetime-Plus-Years' Copyright Duration: Lessons from a Behavioral Economic Analysis for Eldred v. Ashcroft" (with Avishalom Tor), 36 Loy. L.A. L. Rev. 437 (2002).
SSRN | HeinOnline (PDF)

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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