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Efficient Contracts for Digital Content

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  • Tobias Regner

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Abstract

This paper analyses efficient contracts for digital content, focusing on the music industry. It contributes to the quest for an efficient intellectual property rights environment for information goods. Moreover, it adds an interesting application to the field of behavioural economics. The model is set in a contract theory framework with the copyright holder being the principal and a consumer the agent. We offer three contract cases for analysis: strong copy protection, a strategically low price and voluntary reciprocal contributions. Insights from the economics of information and behavioural economics - information goods have public goods properties; social preferences are significant among individuals - are applied to examine the value of a strict copyright enforcement in the digital age. We find that endogenous incomplete contracts based on fair, reciprocal behaviour may achieve a first-best allocation of information goods, while complete contracts are limited to second-best results.

Suggested Citation

  • Tobias Regner, 2004. "Efficient Contracts for Digital Content," The Centre for Market and Public Organisation 04/108, Department of Economics, University of Bristol, UK.
  • Handle: RePEc:bri:cmpowp:04/108
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    File URL: http://www.bris.ac.uk/Depts/CMPO/workingpapers/wp108.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Gary Charness & Matthew Rabin, 2002. "Understanding Social Preferences with Simple Tests," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 117(3), pages 817-869.
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    3. Ernst Fehr & Simon Gachter & Georg Kirchsteiger, 1997. "Reciprocity as a Contract Enforcement Device: Experimental Evidence," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 65(4), pages 833-860, July.
    4. Ernst Fehr & Alexander Klein & Klaus M. Schmidt, "undated". "Fairness, Incentives and Contractual Incompleteness," IEW - Working Papers 072, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
    5. Dufwenberg, Martin & Kirchsteiger, Georg, 2004. "A theory of sequential reciprocity," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 47(2), pages 268-298, May.
    6. Kenneth Arrow, 1962. "Economic Welfare and the Allocation of Resources for Invention," NBER Chapters,in: The Rate and Direction of Inventive Activity: Economic and Social Factors, pages 609-626 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Geanakoplos, John & Pearce, David & Stacchetti, Ennio, 1989. "Psychological games and sequential rationality," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 1(1), pages 60-79, March.
    8. Besen, Stanley M & Kirby, Sheila Nataraj, 1989. "Private Copying, Appropriability, and Optimal Copying Royalties," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 32(2), pages 255-280, October.
    9. Cadsby, Charles Bram & Maynes, Elizabeth, 1999. "Voluntary provision of threshold public goods with continuous contributions: experimental evidence," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 71(1), pages 53-73, January.
    10. Axel Ockenfels & Gary E. Bolton, 2000. "ERC: A Theory of Equity, Reciprocity, and Competition," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(1), pages 166-193, March.
    11. Fahr, Rene & Irlenbusch, Bernd, 2000. "Fairness as a constraint on trust in reciprocity: earned property rights in a reciprocal exchange experiment," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 66(3), pages 275-282, March.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    internet; music industry; social preferences; reciprocity; moral hazard; file sharing;

    JEL classification:

    • D82 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Asymmetric and Private Information; Mechanism Design
    • H42 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods - - - Publicly Provided Private Goods
    • L82 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Services - - - Entertainment; Media
    • L86 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Services - - - Information and Internet Services; Computer Software

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