The Society for Economic Research on Copyright Issues
Aims & Scope
Review of Economic Research on Copyright Issues, 10(2), 55-67, 2013
Digitization has had a profound effect on the management of musical copyrights in terms of data requirements and has vastly increased the volume of transactions: both impacts have raised net costs of administration to collecting societies. This paper explores these points using information provided by PRS for Music, the UK's collecting society managing musical rights and considers them in the wider context of moves on the political front to increase competition in rights management as well as to promote multi-territorial licensing within the EU. An important question for economists is whether the natural monopoly argument for single national collective rights management using blanket licensing still holds up with digitization of music and management of musical rights. This paper suggests that collaborative concentration may be preferable to competition.Click to read more.
Review of Economic Research on Copyright Issues, Vol. 9, No. 1, 3-46, 2012
The Canadian Copyright Act (R.S.C., 1985, c. C-42) includes several exceptions to the exclusive right of copyright holders. Among the most important are the provisions concerning "fair dealing", which state that the use of a copyright protected literary or artistic work for the purposes of private study, research, criticism or review, or news reporting does not constitute a violation of copyright. Our objective in this paper is to characterize the role and nature of this exception from the standpoint of contemporary economic theory and analysis and in the light of the recent Supreme Court of Canada decision on this subject (CCH Canadian Ltd. v. Law Society of Upper Canada,  1 S.C.R. 339, 2004 SCC 13). We propose in the conclusion a market based approach to maximize the dissemination of works while avoiding unnecessary recourse to the fair dealing exception.Click to read more.
Review of Economic Research on Copyright Issues, Vol. 5, No. 2, 45-70, 2008
The quest for interoperability of interactive TV has been a major concern of the EU Institutions. Its policy foundations were built on the enabling role of open standards, whose peculiar standardization process should guarantee affordable and widespread intellectual property rights. After having received considerable public support and financial funds, the interactive TV roll-out appears disappointing, and the diffusion of the main concerned standard, the multimedia home platform, stagnates. We conduct a comprehensive analysis of the main market facts and passages of interactive TV policy, to derive a multifaceted assessment of its technological, economic and institutional drivers. Several important issues stand out. Besides the inner complexity of the policy, a few normative inconsistencies and conflicting aims adversely impacted its feasibility. Several logical ambiguities also dampened the correct choice of instruments. In particular, the existing literature clarifies two main points: open standards cannot be uncritically assimilated to open source software, and the role of open standards along the broadcasting value chain is largely unexplored. Consequently, their effects here might differ from those experienced in traditional information and communication technologies markets. Finally, a certain evidence of regulatory capture of the EU policy-maker emerges.Click to read more.
Review of Economic Research on Copyright Issues, Vol. 4, No. 1, 3-14, 2007
The particular case of software seems to have stretched the patent-copyright divide to the point of breakage. Inspite of being traditionally excluded from patent, software is an obvious case of a single creation that embodies both expression and innovation, and so strong arguments exist for software to be both copyrightable and patentable material. The legal profession has looked carefully at the patentability of software over the past 15 years or so, both from a fully legal perspective, and using economic-type arguments. But we are still waiting for the economics profession per sé to set to work on this issue. Here, I shall go through some of the most well known arguments surrounding the protection of software, and then put forward a personal opinion as to what theoretical economists are likely to add, if and when they include this important question on their research agendas.Click to read more.
Review of Economic Research on Copyright Issues, Vol. 7, No. 1, 45-65, 2010
Frank Mueller-Langer and Richard Watt
In a recent paper, Prof. Steven Shavell (see Shavell, 2009) has argued strongly in favor of eliminating copyright from academic works. Based upon solid economic arguments, Shavell analyses the pros and cons of removal of copyright and in its place to have a pure open access system, in which authors (or more likely their employers) would provide the funds that keep journals in business. In this paper we explore some of the arguments in Shavell’s paper, above all the way in which the distribution of the sources of journal revenue would be altered, and the feasible effects upon the quality of journal content. We propose a slight modification to a pure open access system which may provide for the best of both the copyright and open access worlds.Click to read more.
Review of Economic Research on Copyright Issues, Vol. 8, No. 2, 3-34, 2011
This paper analyzes and compares two types of cooperative agreements that combine Intellectual Property (IP): patent pools and copyright collectives. I evaluate antitrust policy in three environments in which owners of the intellectual property (IP): (1) are vertically integrated into the downstream (product) market; (2) face competition in the upstream (input) market and (3) own downstream products that do not require a license on the pooled IP but compete with products that do. Although patent pools and copyright collectives differ in purpose, membership size and market conditions, their efficiency implications are qualitatively similar in each of the three situations. Therefore, a uniform rather than IP-specific competition policy is appropriate for pools and collectives, thus lending economic support for the approach followed by antitrust authorities toward IP-related cooperative agreements.Click to read more.
Review of Economic Research on Copyright Issues, 13(2), 25-65, 2016
Jin-Hyuk Kim and Michael Waldman
Digital Rights Management (DRM) is employed by firms as a way of reducing illegal copying. In this paper we investigate the idea that it can also be associated with an increase in market power in the hardware market. In our main analysis content and hardware are complementary goods, where there are multiple hardware sellers and one of the hardware sellers owns a DRM technology that can be developed into a DRM system that makes legal content incompatible with hardware that does not employ the system. Our primary result is that the hardware producer who initially owns the DRM technology may employ closed DRM to gain market power in the hardware market because this is an efficient way to monetize its initial ownership of the technology. We also show that, depending on whether or not the content developer has positive bargaining power, the introduction of DRM may or may not result in an increase in content development. In addition to investigating these ideas in a number of related theoretical settings, we also consider the social welfare aspects of the argument and discuss its relevance for understanding the early history of Apple's iPod.Click to read more.
Review of Economic Research on Copyright Issues, Vol. 8, No. 2, 55-64, 2011
Copyright is supposed to establish a mechanism under which content users contribute to creators' income, thereby providing incentives for creators to create new and original content for end-users to consume. However, in the current digital environment one can suggest that this arrangement is breaking down. The necessary flow of content is not being achieved in such a manner as to provide a satisfactory flow of revenue back to the creators, or is it vice versa? It can also be argued that the copyright system is not providing enough revenue for distributors to provide the sort of services that users would like with the current pricing structures, use restrictions and rights complexity demanded by the major controllers of music copyrights. In this essay I consider the current state of affairs regarding the copyright system, and its effects for all participants along the value chain for protected content.Click to read more.
Review of Economic Research on Copyright Issues, Vol. 5, No. 1, 23-53, 2008
Paul A. David and Jared Rubin
One manifestation of the trend towards the strengthening of copyright protection that has been noticeable during the past two decades is the secular extension of the potential duration during which access to copyrightable materials remains legally restricted. Those restrictions carry clear implications for the current and prospective costs to readers seeking "on-line" availability of the affected content in digital form, via the Internet. This paper undertakes to quantify one aspect of these developments by providing readily understandable measures of the restrictive consequences of the successive modifications that were made in U.S. copyright laws during the second half of the twentieth century. Specifically, we present estimates of the past, present and future number of copyrighted books belonging to different publication-date "cohorts" whose entry into the public domain (and consequent accessibility in scanned on-line form) will thereby have been postponed. In some instances these deferrals of access due to legislative extensions of the duration of copyright protection are found to reach surprisingly far into the future, and to arise from the effects of interactions among the successive changes in the law that generally have gone unnoticed.Click to read more.
Review of Economic Research on Copyright Issues, Vol. 1, No. 2, 11-27, 2004
Many countries are revisiting their Copyright law in the light of new communication and information technologies, which make possible the generalized digitization of copyrighted material and in so doing hallenge the protection and enforcement of copyrights. As the laws are modified to adapt to this new environment, the foundations of copyright have been questioned. I claim here that the affirmation and protection of a strong and transparent copyright framework is a second best efficient institutional arrangement to foster cultural development and diversity and promote the emergence of new market-like institutions reducing the costs of transactions between creators and users.Click to read more.
Review of Economic Research on Copyright Issues, 12(1/2), 16-25, 2015
T. Randolph Beard, George S. Ford and Michael L. Stern
In the regulatory setting of rates for statutory-licensed music services, the question of value-based versus cost-based rate setting for the component-rights of a musical performance arises. In this article, we have demonstrated this value-or-cost question is a distinction without a difference. Starting with the value-based concept of second-best (or Ramsey) prices, we end with a result prescribing that cost differences should be fully reflected in compensation across the inputs to the music recording. Each price is set so that the costs are covered, no more and no less.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, Vol. 7, No. 1, 67-81, 2010
I examine the effect that radio airplay has on the sale of digital music in New Zealand. This effect is also likely to influence the behavior of various music industry participants, including the record companies, radio industry and listeners. I find that on an industry level, radio airplay has no significant effect on the sale of digital music. However, on average, an increase in radio airplay of a given song is predicted to increase sales of that song, which is the so-called exposure effect. The discrepancy between the aggregate and individual effects is explained by the existence of the fallacy of composition: An increase in the airplay of a particular song usually happens at the expense of another song's airplay, and so if more airplay does give greater sales of a given song, so less airplay will reduce the sales of competing songs, leading to ambiguous aggregate effects. It is also true that while individual songs compete with other songs for airplay, the radio industry competes with other activities and products consumed by listeners. Increases in the total airplay may not increase total sales, as the listener's decision regarding digital single purchase is now made with consideration of their non-music consumption goods, and budget and time constraints.Click to read more.
Review of Economic Research on Copyright Issues, 2018, 15(2), 23-56
Christian W. Handke, João Quintais and Balázs Bodó
This paper discusses copyright compensation systems (CCS) -- that provide licenses for downloading and non-commercial use of copyright works in return for a fee -- in the light of welfare economics and transaction cost economics. Recent empirical studies suggest that CCS could improve social welfare at least for recorded music. The general theme of the theoretical discussion in this paper is a simplicity-flexibility trade-off. On the one hand, CCS seek to reduce the costs of administering and trading copyrights online. On the other hand, standard copyright licenses distort the market mechanism. This paper discusses the costs and benefits of various CCS proposals compared to alternative ways of managing copyright online.Click to read more.
Review of Economic Research on Copyright Issues, Vol. 2, No. 2, 53-67, 2005
Joelle Farchy and Heritiana Ranaivoson
DRMS are often described as essential in the development of the legal online supply of content, notably of music (In this paper, we do not study the cases of sites that sell pre-recorded music, such as Amazon). That is why they are becoming a crucial stake for the whole recovering music industry. In the first section, we will precise the strategic role of DRMS. The market for DRMS in the online music supply is a very recent one, but it is expected to grow rather fast. Moreover, DRMS are becoming the heart of the online music value chain. The aim of this paper is to study the technological competition between the firms that try to impose their standard on the growing market of DRMS. Because this competition relies on the lack of interoperability and on a possible monopolization, we find that the results of this competition may not benefit the content industries.Click to read more.