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Fairness Ex Ante & Ex Post – An Experimental Test of the German “Bestseller Paragraph”


  • Christoph Engel

    () (Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods, Bonn)

  • Michael Kurschilgen

    (Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods, Bonn)


The market for copyrights is characterised by a highly skewed distribution of profits: very few movies, books and songs generate huge profits, whereas the great bulk barely manages to recover production cost. At the moment when the owner of intellectual property grants a licence (“ex ante”), neither party knows the true value of the traded commodity. A seemingly odd provision from German copyright law, the so-called “bestseller paragraph”, stipulates that the seller of a licence has a legally enforceable right to a bonus in case the work (“ex post”) turns out a blockbuster. We experimentally explore the effect of the provision on market prices, on the number of deals struck and on perceived fairness. Our results show that the provision leads to lower prices for copyrights. More copyrights trade. The buyers express less ex-post discontent.

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  • Christoph Engel & Michael Kurschilgen, 2010. "Fairness Ex Ante & Ex Post – An Experimental Test of the German “Bestseller Paragraph”," Discussion Paper Series of the Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods 2010_29, Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods, revised Nov 2010.
  • Handle: RePEc:mpg:wpaper:2010_29

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Mitzkewitz, Michael & Nagel, Rosemarie, 1993. "Experimental Results on Ultimatum Games with Incomplete Information," International Journal of Game Theory, Springer;Game Theory Society, vol. 22(2), pages 171-198.
    2. De Vany, Arthur & Walls, W David, 1996. "Bose-Einstein Dynamics and Adaptive Contracting in the Motion Picture Industry," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 106(439), pages 1493-1514, November.
    3. Abbink, Klaus & Bolton, Gary E. & Sadrieh, Abdolkarim & Tang, Fang-Fang, 2001. "Adaptive Learning versus Punishment in Ultimatum Bargaining," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 37(1), pages 1-25, October.
    4. Alan Collins & Chris Hand & Martin C. Snell, 2002. "What makes a blockbuster? Economic analysis of film success in the United Kingdom," Managerial and Decision Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 23(6), pages 343-354.
    5. Ernst Fehr & Oliver Hart & Christian Zehnder, 2011. "Contracts as Reference Points--Experimental Evidence," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(2), pages 493-525, April.
    6. Greiner, Ben, 2004. "An Online Recruitment System for Economic Experiments," MPRA Paper 13513, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    7. Arthur De Vany & W. Walls, 1999. "Uncertainty in the Movie Industry: Does Star Power Reduce the Terror of the Box Office?," Journal of Cultural Economics, Springer;The Association for Cultural Economics International, vol. 23(4), pages 285-318, November.
    8. Guth, Werner & Schmittberger, Rolf & Schwarze, Bernd, 1982. "An experimental analysis of ultimatum bargaining," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 3(4), pages 367-388, December.
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    Copyrights; Fairness; Experiment;

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