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Forever Minus a Day? Some Theory and Empirics of Optimal Copyright

Author

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  • Pollock, Rufus

Abstract

The optimal level for copyright has been a matter for extensive debate over the last decade. This paper contributes several new results on this issue divided into two parts. In the first, a parsimonious theoretical model is used to prove several novel propositions about the optimal level of protection. Specifically, we demonstrate that (a) optimal copyright is likely to fall as the production costs of `originals' decline (for example as a result of digitization) and that (b) the optimal level of copyright will, in general, fall over time. The second part of the paper focuses on the specific case of copyright term. Using a simple model we characterise optimal term as a function of a few key parameters. We estimate this function using a combination of new and existing data on recordings and books and find an optimal term of around fifteen years. This is substantially shorter than any current copyright term and implies that existing copyright terms are too long.

Suggested Citation

  • Pollock, Rufus, 2007. "Forever Minus a Day? Some Theory and Empirics of Optimal Copyright," MPRA Paper 5024, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 07 Aug 2007.
  • Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:5024
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    File URL: https://mpra.ub.uni-muenchen.de/5024/1/MPRA_paper_5024.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Johnson, William R, 1985. "The Economics of Copying," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 93(1), pages 158-174, February.
    2. Austan Goolsbee & Judith Chevalier, 2002. "Measuring Prices and Price Competition Online: Amazon and Barnes and Noble," NBER Working Papers 9085, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Michele Boldrin & David K Levine, 2005. "IP and Market Size," Levine's Working Paper Archive 618897000000000836, David K. Levine.
    4. 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.
    5. Kai-Lung Hui, 2002. "On the Supply of Creative Work: Evidence from the Movies," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(2), pages 217-220, May.
    6. Felix Oberholzer-Gee & Koleman Strumpf, 2007. "The Effect of File Sharing on Record Sales: An Empirical Analysis," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 115, pages 1-42.
    7. William M. Landes, 2003. "Copyright," Chapters,in: A Handbook of Cultural Economics, chapter 15 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    8. Ivan Png & Qiu-hong Wang, 2007. "Copyright Duration and the Supply of Creative Work," Levine's Working Paper Archive 321307000000000478, David K. Levine.
    9. Peitz, Martin & Waelbroeck, Patrick, 2006. "Why the music industry may gain from free downloading -- The role of sampling," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 24(5), pages 907-913, September.
    10. Liebowitz, S J, 1985. "Copying and Indirect Appropriability: Photocopying of Journals," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 93(5), pages 945-957, October.
    11. Ivan Png, 2006. "Copyright: A Plea for Empirical Research," Levine's Working Paper Archive 321307000000000484, David K. Levine.
    12. Stan J. Liebowitz & Stephen E. Margolis, 2005. "Seventeen Famous Economists Weigh In On Copyright: The Role Of Theory, Empirics, And Network Effects," Law and Economics 0505003, EconWPA.
    13. Landes, William M & Posner, Richard A, 1989. "An Economic Analysis of Copyright Law," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 18(2), pages 325-363, June.
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    Cited by:

    1. Christopher C. Klein, 2015. "The Music Industry as a Vehicle for Economic Analysis," The Journal of Economic Education, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 46(4), pages 403-411, October.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Copyright; Intellectual Property; Copyright Term; Technological Change;

    JEL classification:

    • O34 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Intellectual Property and Intellectual Capital
    • O31 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Innovation and Invention: Processes and Incentives
    • L10 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - General

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