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Forever Minus a Day? Some Theory and Empirics of Optimal Copyright

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  • Pollock, Rufus

Abstract

The optimal level for copyright has been a matter for extensive debate over the last decade. This paper contributes several new results on this issue divided into two parts. In the first, a parsimonious theoretical model is used to prove several novel propositions about the optimal level of protection. Specifically, we demonstrate that (a) optimal copyright is likely to fall as the production costs of `originals' decline (for example as a result of digitization) and that (b) the optimal level of copyright will, in general, fall over time. The second part of the paper focuses on the specific case of copyright term. Using a simple model we characterise optimal term as a function of a few key parameters. We estimate this function using a combination of new and existing data on recordings and books and find an optimal term of around fifteen years. This is substantially shorter than any current copyright term and implies that existing copyright terms are too long.

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File URL: http://mpra.ub.uni-muenchen.de/5024/
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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by University Library of Munich, Germany in its series MPRA Paper with number 5024.

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Date of creation: Feb 2007
Date of revision: 07 Aug 2007
Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:5024

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Keywords: Copyright; Intellectual Property; Copyright Term; Technological Change;

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  1. Austan Goolsbee & Judith Chevalier, 2002. "Measuring Prices and Price Competition Online: Amazon and Barnes and Noble," NBER Working Papers 9085, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Kai-Lung Hui & Ivan P.L. Png, 2002. "On the Supply of Creative Work: Evidence from the Movies," Law and Economics, EconWPA 0201002, EconWPA, revised 18 Jan 2002.
  3. Novos, Ian E & Waldman, Michael, 1984. "The Effects of Increased Copyright Protection: An Analytic Approach," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, University of Chicago Press, vol. 92(2), pages 236-46, April.
  4. Ivan Png & Qiu-hong Wang, 2007. "Copyright Duration and the Supply of Creative Work," Levine's Working Paper Archive 321307000000000478, David K. Levine.
  5. Landes, William M & Posner, Richard A, 1989. "An Economic Analysis of Copyright Law," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, University of Chicago Press, vol. 18(2), pages 325-63, June.
  6. Michele Boldrin & David K Levine, 2005. "IP and Market Size," Levine's Working Paper Archive 618897000000000836, David K. Levine.
  7. Johnson, William R, 1985. "The Economics of Copying," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, University of Chicago Press, vol. 93(1), pages 158-74, February.
  8. Liebowitz, S J, 1985. "Copying and Indirect Appropriability: Photocopying of Journals," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, University of Chicago Press, vol. 93(5), pages 945-57, October.
  9. Stan J. Liebowitz & Stephen E. Margolis, 2005. "Seventeen Famous Economists Weigh In On Copyright: The Role Of Theory, Empirics, And Network Effects," Law and Economics, EconWPA 0505003, EconWPA.
  10. Felix Oberholzer-Gee & Koleman Strumpf, 2007. "The Effect of File Sharing on Record Sales: An Empirical Analysis," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, University of Chicago Press, vol. 115, pages 1-42.
  11. Peitz, Martin & Waelbroeck, Patrick, 2006. "Why the music industry may gain from free downloading -- The role of sampling," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 24(5), pages 907-913, September.
  12. Ivan Png, 2006. "Copyright: A Plea for Empirical Research," Levine's Working Paper Archive 321307000000000484, David K. Levine.
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