Thomas Bell

Thomas Bell

Dale E. Fowler School of Law
Expertise: Special Jurisdictions; Copyright; Intellectual Property; Third Amendment; Internet Law;
Office Location: Kennedy Hall 438
Phone: (714) 628-2503
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. Professor Bell specializes in high-tech legal issues and has written a variety of works on intellectual property and Internet law, including the book, Intellectual Privilege: Copyright, Common Law, and the Common Good (2014). He 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. Professor Bell joined the faculty of Fowler School of Law in 1998.  In addition to writing a steady stream of scholarly works, Professor Bell has appeared on or been quoted in the Wall Street JournalCNNEconomist, Los Angeles Times, and many other news sources, and starred in several online videos addressing timely legal issues. 

Courses Taught: Intellectual Property, Internet Law, Advanced Seminar on Copyright Law, Entertainment Law, International Entertainment Law, Property Law, Tort Law, Contract Law,  Agency and Partnership, Corporations, and Law and Economics

List of Scholarly Publications

Recent Creative, Scholarly Work and Publications

"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
Tom W. Bell on LAWS OF CREATION, Antitrust and Competition Policy Blog, January 10, 2013 (review essay in blog symposium)
Your Weekly Constitutional, "We Love Boobies! And the Third Amendment, too," October 17, 2013 (interview by host Stewart Harris starts at 28:30)
"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)