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Steven Shavell, An Economic Analysis of Threats and Their Illegality: Blackmail, Extortion, and Robbery, 141 U. Pa. L. Rev. 1877 (1993).

Abstract: It is appropriate to criminalize blackmail because blackmail, like robbery, punishes those who place an individual in a compromising situation and threaten to make that situation worse unless money is exchanged. Punishing blackmail benefits society because it allows individuals to express themselves and act freely without fear of having to pay to keep lawful yet embarrassing information secret.