Tom W. Bell

Tom W. Bell

Dale E. Fowler School of Law
Expertise: Special Jurisdictions; Copyright; Intellectual Property; Third Amendment; Internet Law;
Office Location: Kennedy Hall 419
Phone: (714) 628-2503
Scholarly Works:
SSRN Author Page
University of Kansas, Bachelor of Arts
University of Southern California, Master of Arts
University of Chicago, Juris Doctor


Professor Bell joined the faculty of Fowler School of Law in 1998. His scholarship focuses on special jurisdictions, copyrights, Internet law, prediction markets, and the Third Amendment of the Bill of Rights (the one about quartering troops).  His books include Your Next Government?  From the Nation State to Stateless Nations (2018), and Intellectual Privilege: Copyright, Common Law, and the Common Good (2014).

Professor Bell received his Juris Doctor from the University of Chicago Law School in 1993, where he served both as a member of the University of Chicago Law Review and as Articles Editor and cofounder of the University of Chicago Legal Roundtable. After graduating from law school, Professor Bell joined the Silicon Valley law firm of Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati. He entered teaching in 1995, when he became an Assistant Professor of Law in the Law and Technology Program at the University of Dayton School of Law. During a one year leave of absence from that school, and just prior to joining the Fowler School of Law faculty, he served as Director of Telecommunications and Technology Studies at the Cato Institute in Washington, D.C. 

In addition to writing a steady stream of scholarly works, Professor Bell has appeared on or been quoted in the Wall Street Journal, CNN, Economist, Los Angeles Times, and many other news sources. He has also starred in several online videos addressing timely legal issues.  Professor Bell serves as Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Special Jurisdictions and advises The Seasteading Institute (pro bono), Pronomos Capital, and Free Society Project, among other organizations.

Courses Taught:


List of Scholarly Publications

Recent Creative, Scholarly Work and Publications

Fintech Regulation in the Catawba Digital Economic Zone, 26(2) CHAPMAN L. REV. 477 (2023) (invited)
"The Catawba Digital Economic Zone: A Native American SEZ," 3 J. SPECIAL JURISDICTIONS 25 (2022)
"The Forecast for Anarchy," in ROUTLEDGE HANDBOOK OF ANARCHY (Gary Chartier & Chad Van Schoelandt, eds.; Routledge: 2021)
"Blockchain and Authoritarianism: The Evolution of Decentralized Autonomous Organizations," in BLOCKCHAIN AND PUBLIC LAW: GLOBAL CHALLENGES IN THE ERA OF DECENTRALIZATION 90-104 (Oreste Pollicino & Giovanni De Gregorio, eds.; Elgar 2021)
"Common Law Zones: An Illustrated Review," 2 J. SPECIAL JURISDICTIONS 57 (2021)
"What is an SEZ?" and other lessons in E-Learning Course I - “Initiating strategic industrial zone development for sustainable development”, Sustainable Industrial Park Platform, United Nations Industrial Development Organization, Vienna, Austria (in production)
"Ulex: Open Source Law for Non-Territorial Governance," 1 J. SPECIAL JURISDICTIONS 1 (2020)
"Distributed Self-Government in Protocol Communities: An Introduction and Index of Examples," 25:2 INDEPENDENT REVIEW 293 (Fall 2020),
"When Governments Suspend Their Own Rules," REASON, February 2018 (reviewing LOTTA MOBERG, THE POLITICAL ECONOMY OF SPECIAL ECONOMIC ZONES (Routledge 2017)) (invited)
"Special International Zones in Practice and Theory," 22 CHAPMAN L. REV. 273 (2018)
"Law, Governance, and International Relations of Seasteads," in SEASTEADS: OPPORTUNITIES AND CHALLENGES FOR SMALL NEW SOCIETIES 159 (Victor Tiberius, ed., Springer Int'l Pub'g 2017)
"Copyrights, Privacy, and the Blockchain," 42 O.N.U. LAW REV 439 (2016) (invited)
"Special Economic Zones in the United States: From Colonial Charters, to Foreign-Trade Zones, Toward USSEZs," 64 BUFFALO L. REV. 959 (2016)
"What Can Corporations Teach Governments About Democratic Equality?" 31:2 SOCIAL PHILOSOPHY & POLICY 230 (2015) (invited); republished in, EQUALITY AND PUBLIC POLICY 230 (Mark LeBar, Antony Davies, & David Schmidtz, eds., Cambridge University Press, 2015)
"Unconstitutional Quartering, Governmental Immunity, and Van Halen's Brown M&M Test," 82 TENN. L. REV. 497 (2015) (invited)
"Copyright Porn Trolls, Wasting Taxi Medallions, and the Propriety of 'Property,'" 18 CHAPMAN L. REV. 799 (2015) (invited) (Note: This paper won the Federalist Society's 2014 "Intellectual Property and Free Enterprise" competition and was subject of a panel discussion at a Federalist Society colloquium in November 2014.)
"What is Polycentric Law?" THE FREEMAN, February 26, 2014
"How We Will Outgrow Copyright," NATIONAL REVIEW, May 6, 2014
R-Street Institute, Google Hangouts on Air, "Has Copyright Gone Too Far?" June 5, 2014, 12:00-1:00 pm (featured presenter in panel discussion)
Online Intellectual Property Debate with Richard Epstein, sponsored by the Institute for Humane Studies, Learn Liberty Academy, April 9, 2014, 5-6 pm, Pacific
"Entrepreneur's Survival Guide to Trademarks, Patents, & More," UDEMY, launched November, 2014, at (wrote and performed 22 videos and many accompanying assessments in free MOOC)
"The Constitution as if Consent Mattered," 16 CHAPMAN L. REV. 269 (2013) (invited)
"Fordlandia: Henry Ford's Amazon Dystopia," THE FREEMAN, February 19, 2013
"For Safer Streets, Use Fairer Courts," THE FREEMAN, May 02, 2013
"Can We Correct Democracy?" THE FREEMAN, June 4, 2013
"Startup City Redux Honduras: from RED to ZEDE to … Freedom?" THE FREEMAN, June 27, 2013
"Want to Own a City?" THE FREEMAN, August 14, 2013
Your Weekly Constitutional, "We Love Boobies! And the Third Amendment, too," October 17, 2013 (interview by host Stewart Harris starts at 28:30)
Tom W. Bell on LAWS OF CREATION, Antitrust and Competition Policy Blog, January 10, 2013 (review essay in blog symposium)
"Startup Cities," Honduras, and Experiments in Freedom, REASONTV, August 5, 2013 (wrote and presented)
Five Reforms for Copyright, in COPYRIGHT’S FUTURE 109 (Mercatus 2012) (invited)
"Property" in the Constitution: The View from the Third Amendment, 20 WILLIAM & MARY BILL OF RIGHTS J. 1243 (2012) (invited)
Principles of Contracts for Governing Service, 21 GRIFFITH L. REV. 472 (2012) (invited)
Josh Blackman, Miriam A. Cherry, and Tom W. Bell, Cutting access to InTrade Violates Americans' Speech Rights, Houston Chronicle, December 7, 2012
No Exit: Are Honduran Free Cities DOA? THE FREEMAN, November 26, 2012
Government Prediction Markets: Why, Who, and How, 116 PENN. ST. L. REV. 403 (2011)
Pirates in the Family Room: How Performances from Abroad, to U.S. Consumers, Might Evade Copyright Law, 18 SOUTHWESTERN J. INT’L LAW 253 (2011) (invited)
The Rule of Law, LEARNLIBERTY, February 18, 2011, (video I wrote and performed)
The Power of Property Rights, LEARNLIBERTY, March 3, 2011, (video I wrote and performed)
Can Order be Unplanned? LEARNLIBERTY, April 4, 2011, (video I wrote and performed)
Commentary on Predicting Crime, 52 ARIZ. L. REV. 65 (2010) (invited)
Graduated Consent in Contract and Tort Law: Toward a Theory of Justification, 61 CASE WESTERN L. REV. 17 (2010)