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Intellectual Property Law

Columbia Law School

2013

Harvard Law Review

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Full-Text Articles in Law

Shallow Signals, Bert I. Huang Jan 2013

Shallow Signals, Bert I. Huang

Faculty Scholarship

Whether in dodging taxes, violating copyrights, misstating corporate earnings, or just jaywalking, we often follow the lead of others in our choices to obey or to flout the law. Seeing others act illegally, we gather that a rule is weakly enforced or that its penalty is not serious. But we may be imitating by mistake: what others are doing might not be illegal – for them.

Whenever the law quietly permits some actors to act in a way that is usually forbidden, copycat misconduct may be erroneously inspired by the false appearance that "others are doing it too." The use of ...