The Society for Economic Research on Copyright Issues
Aims & Scope
Review of Economic Research on Copyright Issues, Vol. 3, No.1, 43-60, 2006
Alan E. Woodfield
This paper generalizes the two-period model of Watt (2000) who demonstrates the possibility of optimal accommodation of a pirate when the royalty rate applying to a creation is uniform and second-period Cournot competition applies. Admitting nonlinear contracts with period-specific royalty rates that leave total payments unchanged, simulation analysis shows that a producer of originals does better to increase the royalty rate in period 1 and decrease the rate to a negative level in period 2, thereby more than offsetting the usual cost advantage available to a pirate. Watt's illustrative examples regarding piracy accommodation (but not piracy exclusion) are overturned when a nonlinear contract is chosen optimally, although accommodation remains optimal in some other cases. Further, where exclusion is impossible under uniform royalties, cases exist where exclusion is feasible under nonlinear royalties. Even so, accommodation may be a preferable strategy.Click to read more.
Review of Economic Research on Copyright Issues, Vol. 6, No. 2, 31-60, 2009
Paul J. Heald
Some economists assert that as valuable works transition from copyrighted status and fall into the public domain they will be underexploited and their value dissipated. Others insist instead that without an owner to control their use, valuable public domain works will be overexploited or otherwise debased. This study of the most valuable musical compositions from 1913-32 demonstrates that neither hypothesis is true as it applies to the exploitation of songs in movies from 1968-2007. When compositions fall into the public domain, they are just as likely to be exploited in movies, suggesting no under-exploitation. And the rate of exploitation of these public domain songs is no greater than that of copyrighted songs, indicating no congestion externality. The absence of market failure is likely due to producer and consumer self-regulation.Click to read more.
Review of Economic Research on Copyright Issues, Vol. 1, No. 2, 55-69, 2004
Digital technology makes sophisticated means available to the general public for copying works with an equal level of quality to the originals and at increasingly lower prices. Unrestricted copying deprives producers and creators of a share of their potential earnings on the sale of originals. The whole of the traditional system for financing cultural creation could be at risk. There are three mainstays to the conventional financing system: the production of private goods, direct appropriability of revenues, temporary monopoly of exclusive rights. Each one has been called into question by P2P. Content has properties that are growing ever more similar to public goods, raising the question of whether public financing might be possible. Direct appropriability in customary markets is becoming ever more difficult, raising the question of whether new forms of appropriability might be possible, both direct and indirect. Exclusive rights are becoming increasingly ever harder to enforce, raising the question of other possible institutional solutions. To date, the solutions geared to tackling these issues have been largely defensive, and aimed at maintaining the old system's core characteristics (direct appropriability and exclusive rights) through DRM. However, a brief foray into economics literature can reveal some original alternatives solutions even if each one has its advantages and its drawbacks.Click to read more.
Review of Economic Research on Copyright Issues, 13(2), 1-24, 2016
I first review the theoretical apparatus that has been largely used so far to analyze information goods industries. I argued then that although this apparatus was fairly appropriate in the analog era and in the early digital era, it now needs to be significantly updated. The advent of streaming challenges indeed the main assumptions that underlie the existing models. This observation leads me to propose two main directions for future research efforts. First, one needs to better understand, and model, how streaming modifies the way content is accessed and consumed. Second, more attention should be given to the roles and strategies of streaming platforms, which become inescapable intermediaries regarding the distribution and consumption of digital goods.Click to read more.
Review of Economic Research on Copyright Issues, Vol. 1, No. 2, 71-79, 2004
Martin Peitz and Patrick Waelbroeck
We use a 1998-2002 cross-section dataset to analyze the claim of losses due to internet piracy made by the record industry. The results suggest that internet piracy played a significant role in the decline in music sales during the early days of file-sharing networks.Click to read more.
Review of Economic Research on Copyright Issues, 2018, 15(1), 20-37
Estrella Gomez Herrera and Bertin Martens
The EU seeks to create a seamless online Digital Single Market for media products such as digital music and film. The territoriality of the copyright regime is often perceived as an obstacle that induces geographical segmentation. This paper provides empirical evidence on the extent of market segmentation in the EU on the supply side and measures the contribution of several drivers of this segmentation. We use data from the Apple iTunes country stores in 27 EU Member States. We find that availability of EU media products across country stores in the EU is hovering around 80 per cent for music and 40 per cent for films. Recent industry initiatives to reduce the transaction costs of making digital music available across borders have resulted in a reasonably wide availability though still short of the 100 per cent mark. Supply side factors including copyright-related trade costs probably still play a role in music though we can only infer this indirectly in the absence of data on copyright licensing arrangements at product level. Commercial strategies and territorial restrictions in distribution agreements reduce film availability, more so than copyright issues. We also find evidence of price differentiation across iTunes EU country stores.Click to read more.
Review of Economic Research on Copyright Issues, Vol. 4, No. 1, 63-86, 2007
Much literature has been devoted to exploring the protection of computer programs. The decreasing effectiveness of copyright and patents has been extensively examined and alternative forms of protection, both physical and market-based, have been laid out. A large proportion of writings is dedicated to describing the significant network externalities that exist in the software market, and the effect that these have on the optimal level of protection. A large number of surveys have been undertaken to analyse the characteristics of software pirates and their incentives to pirate. This paper attempts to provide an overview of this literature.Click to read more.
Review of Economic Research on Copyright Issues, 10(1), 20-35, 2013
Patrick Legros and Victor A. Ginsburgh
The fight against illegal music downloading has taken many forms. Beside legal prosecution (Hadopi in France, for example), many countries have chosen to tax blank tapes and CDs, both to reduce their use for illegal copying, but also to redistribute the proceeds to content providers. This has become less effective, since now illegal copying is stored on hardware devices, such as smartphones, computers, MP3 players, and external hard disks. We provide an economic analysis of the effects of copyright levies on hardware used to access original content. A first effect is to decrease the consumption of both illegal and legal content. We show that in a static model, content providers can hardly be compensated, and therefore are made worse off by the levy. We also consider a dynamic model where current sales contribute to the reputation of the content provider, and to his future revenues. A levy on hardware tends to penalise 'young' content providers in terms of reputation acquisition.Click to read more.
Review of Economic Research on Copyright Issues, Vol. 5, No. 1, 1-22, 2008
Ruth Towse, Christian Handke and Paul Stepan
This article is a survey of publications by economists writing on copyright law. It begins with a general overview of how economists analyse these questions; the distinction is made between the economics of copying and the economic aspects of copyright law as analysed in law and economics. It then continues with sections on research on the effects of copying and downloading and the effects of unauthorised use ('piracy') and ends with an overall evaluation of the economics of copyright in the light of recent technological changes. Economists have always been, and still are, somewhat sceptical about copyright and question what alternatives there are to it. On balance, most accept the role of copyright law in the creative industries while urging caution about its becoming too strong. And although European authors' rights are different in legal terms from the Anglo-American copyright, the economic analysis of these laws is essentially the same.Click to read more.
Review of Economic Research on Copyright Issues, Vol. 4, No. 1, 21-46, 2007
Francois Leveque and Yann Ménière
Open Source Software is often viewed as an anti-intellectual property regime. In contrast, we argue how intellectual property law is at the heart of open source model since licenses that organize the innovation and business relationships between developers, distributors and end-users are based on copyright law. The proliferation of software patents can, however be seen as a threat for the development and deployment of open source software. We present the nature of the threat and review a series of initiatives undertaken by the open source community to address them effectively. These initiatives, such as the redesign of licenses and the creation of patent commons, are a testiment to a genuinely creative use of intellectual property law by the open source community, not its undermining.Click to read more.
Review of Economic Research on Copyright Issues, Vol. 8, No. 1, 7-50, 2011
Frank Mueller-Langer and Marc Scheufen
Beginning in December 2004 Google has pursued a new project to create a book search engine (Google Book Search). The project has released a storm of controversy around the globe. While the supporters of Google Book Search conceive the project as a first reasonable step towards unlimited access to knowledge in the information age, its opponents fear profound negative effects due to an erosion of copyright law.
Our law and economics analysis of the Book Search Project suggests that - from a copyright perspective - the proposed settlement may be beneficial to right holders, consumers, and Google. For instance, it may provide a solution to the still unsolved dilemma of orphan works. From a competition policy perspective, we stress the important aspect that Google's pricing algorithm for orphan and unclaimed works effectively replicates a competitive Nash-Bertrand market outcome under post-settlement, third-party oversight.
Review of Economic Research on Copyright Issues, Vol. 1, No. 1, 173-175, 2004
Michael J. Rushton
The ten papers in this book were first presented at the SERCI annual congress in Madrid in 2002. In her introduction to the volume, co-editor Wendy Gordon notes that the technology that enables us to preserve and make reproductions of creative works changes the entire cultural landscape, as it provides authors with a means of earning income from the general public as consumers, and not just from patronage appointments. This shift in the source of income will change the kind of works that are created. Importantly, "it was to harness the extra value enabled by technology that copyright was invented" (p. xviii). It is therefore appropriate that much of this valuable volume of new research on the economics of copyright is concerned with the response of copyright policy and market contractual arrangements to changing technology.Click to read more.
Review of Economic Research on Copyright Issues, Vol. 3, No. 2, 29-51, 2006
Christian W. Handke
The record industry has become emblematic in debates on reforming copyright law. Economists have mainly studied the extent to which a surge in unauthorised copying is destroying the industry by displacing demand for authorised copies. The effect of technological change on industry structure has received little attention. This paper presents evidence for an extraordinarily high number of market entries by small record companies during a severe recession in the German market for phonograms. This finding is more consistent with a restructuring of the record industry in the context of technological change - i.e. creative destruction - than with plain destruction due to diminished appropriability. If that is the case, isolated attempts to reinforce copyright protection could be misguided. They should be complemented by efforts to promote innovation within the record industry.Click to read more.
Review of Economic Research on Copyright Issues, 2018, 15(2), 1-22
Joshua S. Gans
This paper provides an overview of economic approaches to the pricing of mechanical royalties for copy-protected music works. It argues that principles for such pricing can be provided usefully from principles of pricing access to essential facilities. In particular, the structure of the royalty should be such that the royalty level does not change if the business model of downstream entities (notably, digital music streaming platforms) changes (i.e., neutrality) and the level of the royalty should ensure that the copyright holders receive a return in excess of their next best alternative in reaching consumers (i.e., opportunity cost). Ways of using benchmarking to derive the relevant opportunity cost are then discussed including the use of methods inspired by economic bargaining approaches such as the Shapley Value.Click to read more.
Review of Economic Research on Copyright Issues, Vol. 7, No. 2, 21-37, 2010
The issue of what price should be set for the music input to radio broadcasts has been hotly debated recently in several countries, including USA, Canada and New Zealand. Since music is subject to copyright, this is an issue that is of great importance to the economics of copyright. The central point is the fact that, because of the economic efficiency that is gained by collective management and blanket licencing, the copyright holders in music are represented by a single bargaining unit. The ensuing monopoly power is often seen to be detrimental to social efficiency, and so in exchange for allowing the collective to form and operate, the price at which it grants access to its repertory is regulated. The regulated price should be set at a fair and equitable level. In this paper, the Shapley methodology is used to attempt to provide such a tariff.Click to read more.