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Piracy of Digital Products: A Critical Review of the Economics Literature

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  • Martin Peitz
  • Patrick Waelbroeck

Abstract

Digital products have the property that they can be copied almost costlessly. This makes them candidates for non-commercial copying by final consumers. Because the copy of a copy typically does not deteriorate in quality, copying products can become a wide-spread phenomenon – this can be illustrated by the surge of file-sharing networks. In this paper we provide a critical overview of the literature that addresses the economic consequences of end-user copying. We conclude that some models with network effects are well-suited for the analysis of software copying while other models incorporating the feature that copies provide information about the originals may be useful for the analysis of digital music copying.

Suggested Citation

  • Martin Peitz & Patrick Waelbroeck, 2003. "Piracy of Digital Products: A Critical Review of the Economics Literature," CESifo Working Paper Series 1071, CESifo Group Munich.
  • Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_1071
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Yoon, Kiho, 2002. "The optimal level of copyright protection," Information Economics and Policy, Elsevier, vol. 14(3), pages 327-348, September.
    2. Joshua Slive & Dan Bernhardt, 1998. "Pirated for Profit," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 31(4), pages 886-899, November.
    3. Takeyama, Lisa N, 1997. "The Intertemporal Consequences of Unauthorized Reproduction of Intellectual Property," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 40(2), pages 511-522, October.
    4. Oz Shy & Jacques-Françlois Thisse, 1999. "A Strategic Approach to Software Protection," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 8(2), pages 163-190, June.
    5. 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 155-166, June.
    6. Liebowitz, S J, 1985. "Copying and Indirect Appropriability: Photocopying of Journals," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 93(5), pages 945-957, October.
    7. Rick Harbaugh & Rahul Khemka, "undated". "Does Copyright Enforcement Encourage Piracy?," Claremont Colleges Working Papers 2000-14, Claremont Colleges.
    8. Johnson, William R, 1985. "The Economics of Copying," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 93(1), pages 158-174, February.
    9. Kathleen Reavis Conner & Richard P. Rumelt, 1991. "Software Piracy: An Analysis of Protection Strategies," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 37(2), pages 125-139, February.
    10. Martin Peitz, 2004. "A Strategic Approach to Software Protection: Comment," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 13(2), pages 371-374, June.
    11. Banerjee, Dyuti S., 2003. "Software piracy: a strategic analysis and policy instruments," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 21(1), pages 97-127, January.
    12. Novos, Ian E & Waldman, Michael, 1984. "The Effects of Increased Copyright Protection: An Analytic Approach," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 92(2), pages 236-246, April.
    13. Gayer, Amit & Shy, Oz, 2003. "Internet and peer-to-peer distributions in markets for digital products," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 81(2), pages 197-203, November.
    14. Paul Belleflamme, 2002. "Pricing Information Goods in the Presence of Copying," Working Papers 463, Queen Mary University of London, School of Economics and Finance.
    15. M. Alvisi & E. Argentesi & E. Carbonara, 2002. "Piracy and Quality Choice in Monopolistic Markets," Working Papers 436, Dipartimento Scienze Economiche, Universita' di Bologna.
    16. Mussa, Michael & Rosen, Sherwin, 1978. "Monopoly and product quality," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 18(2), pages 301-317, August.
    17. Jong-Hee Hahn, 2000. "Functional Quality Degradation of Software with Network Externalities," Keele Department of Economics Discussion Papers (1995-2001) 2000/12, Department of Economics, Keele University, revised Jan 2001.
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    Keywords

    information good; piracy; copyright; internet; peer-to-peer; software; music;

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