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Piracy on the High C's: Music Downloading, Sales Displacement, and Social Welfare in a Sample of College Students

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  • Rafael Rob
  • Joel Waldfogel

Abstract

Recording industry revenue has fallen sharply in the last three years, and some -- but not all -- observers attribute this to file sharing. We collect new data on albums obtained via purchase and downloading, as well as the consumers' valuations of these albums, among a sample of US college students in 2003. We provide new estimates of sales displacement induced by downloading using both OLS and an instrumental variables approach using access to broadband as a source of exogenous variation in downloading. Each album download reduces purchases by about 0.2 in our sample, although possibly much more. Our valuation data allow us to measure the effects of downloading on welfare as well as expenditure in a subsample of Penn undergraduates, and we find that downloading reduces their per capita expenditure (on hit albums released 1999-2003) from $126 to $100 but raises per capita consumer welfare by $70.

Suggested Citation

  • 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.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:10874
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    1. Michael Spence, 1976. "Product Selection, Fixed Costs, and Monopolistic Competition," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 43(2), pages 217-235.
    2. 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.
    3. Kathleen Reavis Conner & Richard P. Rumelt, 1991. "Software Piracy: An Analysis of Protection Strategies," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 37(2), pages 125-139, February.
    4. Hui Kai-Lung & Png Ivan, 2003. "Piracy and the Legitimate Demand for Recorded Music," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 2(1), pages 1-24, September.
    5. Bakos, Yannis & Brynjolfsson, Erik & Lichtman, Douglas, 1999. "Shared Information Goods," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 42(1), pages 117-155, April.
    6. Besen, Stanley M., 1986. "Private copying, reproduction costs, and the supply of intellectual property," Information Economics and Policy, Elsevier, vol. 2(1), pages 5-22.
    7. 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.
    8. Peter A. Diamond & Jerry A. Hausman, 1994. "Contingent Valuation: Is Some Number Better than No Number?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 8(4), pages 45-64, Fall.
    9. Spence, Michael, 1976. "Product Differentiation and Welfare," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 66(2), pages 407-414, May.
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    JEL classification:

    • L82 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Services - - - Entertainment; Media

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