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Piracy Prevention and the Pricing of Information Goods

  • Cremer, Helmuth
  • Pestieau, Pierre

This paper develops a simple model of piracy to analyze its effects on prices and welfare and to study the optimal enforcement policy. A monopolist produces an information good (involving a 'large' development cost and a 'small' reproduction cost) that is sold to two groups of consumers differing in their valuation of the good. We distinguish two settings: one in which the monopoly is regulated and one in which it maximizes profits and is not regulated, except that the public authority may be responsible for the control of piracy. We show that copying or piracy might be welfare enhancing because it is a way to 'provide' the good to some individuals (those with a low willingness to pay) without undermining the firm’s ability to finance the development cost via the pricing scheme applied to high valuation consumers. The level of piracy control differs according to the regulatory environment. Three levels of piracy control emerge. The highest is the one chosen by the private monopoly. The next level is the one chosen by the regulated monopoly. The lowest, that can be zero, is the level of control chosen by the public authority when the good is sold (and priced) by a private monopoly.

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Paper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 5556.

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Date of creation: Mar 2006
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Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:5556
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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. Cremer, Helmuth & Laffont, Jean-Jacques, 2003. "Public goods with costly access," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 87(9-10), pages 1985-2012, September.
  3. Bae, Sang Hoo & Choi, Jay Pil, 2006. "A model of piracy," Information Economics and Policy, Elsevier, vol. 18(3), pages 303-320, September.
  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, 06.
  5. 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 255-80, October.
  6. Paul Romer, 2002. "When Should We Use Intellectual Property Rights?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(2), pages 213-216, May.
  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.
  8. Martin Peitz & Patrick Waelbroeck, 2003. "Piracy of Digital Products: A Critical Review of the Economics Literature," CESifo Working Paper Series 1071, CESifo Group Munich.
  9. Varian, Hal R, 2000. "Buying, Sharing and Renting Information Goods," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 48(4), pages 473-88, December.
  10. 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.
  11. Paul Belleflamme, 2002. "Pricing Information Goods in the Presence of Copying," Working Papers 463, Queen Mary University of London, School of Economics and Finance.
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