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File Sharing: Creative Destruction or Just Plain Destruction?

  • Liebowitz, Stan J

The sharing of sound recordings over the Internet is the newest controversy in a long-running battle between copyright owners and copying technologies. In order to provide some context, perspective, and background, this paper examines the short history of file sharing, the longer history of record sales, various explanations for the change in record sales, and some analysis of the economics of copying. Although file sharing has been imperfectly and inconsistently measured, it nevertheless appears to reveal a fairly close linkage between changes in file sharing and changes in record sales. Explanations, other than file sharing, for the recent decline in record sales seem to have little or no support. Because economic theories of the impacts of copying hold out little hope for a benign impact of file sharing, these results should not be surprising. These findings reinforce the econometric results from most of an expanding literature.

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File URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1086/503518
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Article provided by University of Chicago Press in its journal Journal of Law and Economics.

Volume (Year): 49 (2006)
Issue (Month): 1 (April)
Pages: 1-28

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Handle: RePEc:ucp:jlawec:y:2006:v:49:i:1:p:1-28
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/JLE/

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  1. Michele Boldrin & David K. Levine, 2004. "2003 Lawrence R. Klein Lecture The Case Against Intellectual Monopoly," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 45(2), pages 327-350, 05.
  2. Liebowitz, S J, 1985. "Copying and Indirect Appropriability: Photocopying of Journals," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 93(5), pages 945-57, October.
  3. Rafael Rob & Joel Waldfogel, 2004. "Piracy on the High C's: Music Downloading, Sales Displacement, and Social Welfare in a Sample of College Students," NBER Working Papers 10874, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Michele Boldrin & David K. Levine, 2004. "IER Lawrence Klein Lecture: the case against intellectual monopoly," Staff Report 339, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  5. Amit Gayer & Oz Shy, 2005. "Copyright Enforcement in the Digital Era," CESifo Economic Studies, CESifo, vol. 51(2-3), pages 477-489.
  6. Bhattacharjee, Sudip & Gopal, Ram D & Lertwachara, Kaveepan & Marsden, James R, 2006. "Impact of Legal Threats on Online Music Sharing Activity: An Analysis of Music Industry Legal Actions," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 49(1), pages 91-114, April.
  7. Takeyama, Lisa N, 1994. "The Welfare Implications of Unauthorized Reproduction of Intellectual Property in the Presence of Demand Network Externalities," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 42(2), pages 155-66, June.
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