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Digital Rights Management and the Pricing of Digital Products

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  • Yooki Park
  • Suzanne Scotchmer

Abstract

As it becomes cheaper to copy and share digital content, vendors are turning to technical protections such as encryption. We argue that if protection is nevertheless imperfect, this transition will generally lower the prices of content relative to perfect legal enforcement. However, the effect on prices depends on whether the content providers use independent protection standards or a shared one, and if shared, on the governance of the system. Even if a shared system permits content providers to set their prices independently, the equilibrium prices will depend on how the vendors share the costs. We show that demand-based cost sharing generally leads to higher prices than revenue-based cost sharing. Users, vendors and the antitrust authorities will typically have different views on what capabilities the DRM system should have. We argue that, when a DRM system is implemented as an industry standard, there is a potential for "collusion through technology."

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 11532.

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Date of creation: Aug 2005
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:11532

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  1. Tandon, Pankaj, 1982. "Optimal Patents with Compulsory Licensing," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 90(3), pages 470-86, June.
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  3. Suzanne Scotchmer, 2002. "Consumption Externalities, Rental Markets and Purchase Clubs," Discussion Papers 03-25, University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics, revised May 2003.
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  8. Johnson, William R, 1985. "The Economics of Copying," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 93(1), pages 158-74, February.
  9. SHY, Oz & THISSE, Jacques-François, . "A strategic approach to software protection," CORE Discussion Papers RP -1413, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
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Cited by:
  1. Jin-Hyuk Kim & Tin Cheuk Leung, 2013. "Quantifying the Impacts of Digital Rights Management and E-Book Pricing on the E-Book Reader Market," Working Papers 13-03, NET Institute.
  2. Choi, Pilsik & Bae, Sang Hoo & Jun, Jongbyung, 2010. "Digital piracy and firms' strategic interactions: The effects of public copy protection and DRM similarity," Information Economics and Policy, Elsevier, vol. 22(4), pages 354-364, December.
  3. Ahn, Illtae & Shin, Ilsoon, 2010. "On the optimal level of protection in DRM," Information Economics and Policy, Elsevier, vol. 22(4), pages 341-353, December.
  4. Julie Holland Mortimer & Chris Nosko & Alan Sorensen, 2010. "Supply Responses to Digital Distribution: Recorded Music and Live Performances," NBER Working Papers 16507, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Michael O’Hare, 2005. "Free Culture: How Big Media Uses Technology and the Law to Lock Down Culture and Control Creativity," Journal of Cultural Economics, Springer, vol. 29(2), pages 148-152, May.
  6. Jin-Hyuk Kim, 2008. "Digital Rights Management and Technological Tying," Working Papers 08-05, NET Institute, revised Sep 2008.
  7. Dyuti Banerjee, 2011. "On the sufficiency of regulatory enforcement in combating piracy," Journal of Regulatory Economics, Springer, vol. 40(2), pages 160-176, October.
  8. Kiema, Ilkka, 2008. "Commercial piracy and intellectual property policy," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 68(1), pages 304-318, October.
  9. Tsai, Ming-Fang & Chiou, Jiunn-Rong & Lin, Chun-Hung A., 2012. "A model of counterfeiting: A duopoly approach," Japan and the World Economy, Elsevier, vol. 24(4), pages 283-291.

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