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Review of Economic Research on Copyright Issues (RERCI)

RERCI Articles

The U.S. Copyright Termination Law, Asymmetric Information, and Legal Uncertainty

Review of Economic Research on Copyright Issues, 2019, vol. 16(1), pp. 1-39

Michael Karas


Abstract

This paper investigates the conflict between authors and their publishers that occurs as a result of publishers using an ambiguous “work made for hire” clause to sue the author for copyright infringement. A Bayesian signaling model allows a publisher to send an informative signal to the uninformed author that includes his reaction towards a license termination to induce termination deterrence. The model is used to examine the effectiveness of the statutory intervention. The results reveal that complete termination deterrence is an equilibrium outcome only if a publisher sues with certainty. The mere threat to sue is not sufficient for complete termination deterrence. Under most parameter settings, the results indicate positive termination probabilities. The highest probability for a neutral publisher type is obtained in situations where an author has weak outside options or is strongly dependent on his publisher. An author with valuable outside options increases the probability that a publisher will threaten to pursue legal action. If courts tend to favor authors, then termination incentives increase, which may lead to more friction between authors and their publishers.

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Music-Use Tariffs, Options, Regulation and Bargaining

Review of Economic Research on Copyright Issues, 2019, vol. 16(1), pp. 40-67

Frank Mathewson, E. Jane Murdoch and Gerry Wall


Abstract

This paper discusses the connection between rate regulation and bargaining out- comes. We consider the case of licensing musical works for radio broadcasting. Our model illustrates the impact when music broadcasters can switch to a talk format. Using a generalized Nash bargaining setting, we interpret the revenue sharing rules established within the regulatory regimes in the US and Canada. In any negotiations over a sharing rule with the collectives that own the musical works rights, the ability of broadcasters to switch from a music to a talk format constitutes the threat point for the broadcasters. Using US and Canadian data for 2014 and 2015, we derive the bargaining weights that would generate the same revenue flows for broadcast- ers and collectives as those produced under the shadow of a copyright regulatory regime. These numerical examples show a higher weight to collectives than appears from the stated tariff rates.

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Getting Pricing Right on Digital Music Copyright

Review of Economic Research on Copyright Issues, 2018, 15(2), 1-22

Joshua S. Gans


Abstract

This paper provides an overview of economic approaches to the pricing of mechanical royalties for copy-protected music works. It argues that principles for such pricing can be provided usefully from principles of pricing access to essential facilities. In particular, the structure of the royalty should be such that the royalty level does not change if the business model of downstream entities (notably, digital music streaming platforms) changes (i.e., neutrality) and the level of the royalty should ensure that the copyright holders receive a return in excess of their next best alternative in reaching consumers (i.e., opportunity cost). Ways of using benchmarking to derive the relevant opportunity cost are then discussed including the use of methods inspired by economic bargaining approaches such as the Shapley Value.

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Truce in the Copyright War? The Pros and Cons of Copyright Compensation Systems for Digital Use

Review of Economic Research on Copyright Issues, 2018, 15(2), 23-56

Christian W. Handke, João Quintais and Balázs Bodó


Abstract

This paper discusses copyright compensation systems (CCS) -- that provide licenses for downloading and non-commercial use of copyright works in return for a fee -- in the light of welfare economics and transaction cost economics. Recent empirical studies suggest that CCS could improve social welfare at least for recorded music. The general theme of the theoretical discussion in this paper is a simplicity-flexibility trade-off. On the one hand, CCS seek to reduce the costs of administering and trading copyrights online. On the other hand, standard copyright licenses distort the market mechanism. This paper discusses the costs and benefits of various CCS proposals compared to alternative ways of managing copyright online.

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Indirect Copyright Infringement Liability for an ISP: An Application of the Theory of the Economics of Contracts under Asymmetric Information

Review of Economic Research on Copyright Issues, 2018, 15(2), 57-79

Richard Watt and Frank Mueller-Langer


Abstract

Under current copyright law in many countries, Internet Service Providers (ISPs) can be found liable for the traffic on the websites that they host. While the ISPs themselves are not undertaking acts that infringe copyright, indirect liability asserts that they either contribute to, or encourage in some way, infringing activities, and thus they are liable to claims of indirect involvement by the affected copyright holders. The present paper explores indirect liability in a standard principal-agent setting, where both moral hazard (the act of monitoring) and adverse selection (differential costs of monitoring over ISPs) are present. The model considers the kinds of contracts that could be signed between the copyright holders (acting through a collective) and the ISPs (acting individually). We specify the contracts that are self-selecting and incentive compatible for the set of feasible scenarios.

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Intellectual Property Regulation and Software Piracy: A Dynamic Approach

Review of Economic Research on Copyright Issues, 2018, 15(1), 38-64

Michael D'Rosario


Abstract

Promoting Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs) is of particular importance to nations engaging in significant innovation. The existing literature relating to software piracy research is typified by the use qualitative methods to analyse the impact of IPRs on software piracy. Most concern themselves with a handful of important macroeconomic factors in an effort to identify whether they possess any explanatory power, employing qualitative frameworks for analysis. More contemporary research has given greater attention to the role of key regulatory variables on software piracy using econometric methods. In this paper, the relationship between foreign political pressure, IPR regulatory reforms and software piracy is considered. We estimate a model of software piracy as a function of bi-lateral pressure and investment (where US 301 reporting is the proxy for bilateral pressure, and capital investment the proxy for bi-lateral investment), Scientific investment, trade dependence and government effectiveness. The models are estimated using data from 80 countries over nine years. The study responds to the dearth of research employing dynamic panel estimations in estimating the impact of IPR reforms on software piracy. The findings suggest out of cycle review and US 301 reporting are pertinent factors potentially moderating software piracy.

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Language, Copyright and Geographic Segmentation in the EU Digital, Single Market for Music and Film

Review of Economic Research on Copyright Issues, 2018, 15(1), 20-37

Estrella Gomez Herrera and Bertin Martens


Abstract

The EU seeks to create a seamless online Digital Single Market for media products such as digital music and film. The territoriality of the copyright regime is often perceived as an obstacle that induces geographical segmentation. This paper provides empirical evidence on the extent of market segmentation in the EU on the supply side and measures the contribution of several drivers of this segmentation. We use data from the Apple iTunes country stores in 27 EU Member States. We find that availability of EU media products across country stores in the EU is hovering around 80 per cent for music and 40 per cent for films. Recent industry initiatives to reduce the transaction costs of making digital music available across borders have resulted in a reasonably wide availability though still short of the 100 per cent mark. Supply side factors including copyright-related trade costs probably still play a role in music though we can only infer this indirectly in the absence of data on copyright licensing arrangements at product level. Commercial strategies and territorial restrictions in distribution agreements reduce film availability, more so than copyright issues. We also find evidence of price differentiation across iTunes EU country stores.

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The Relative Effectiveness of Global Anti-Piracy Policies

Review of Economic Research on Copyright Issues, 2018, 15(1), 1-19

Tylor Orme


Abstract

In recent decades, the problem of illegal downloading of copyrighted material has emerged as a major concern for governments across the globe. Many countries have implemented policies to limit the impact of online piracy on revenues of creative industries. These policies, while important for a broad range of industries, have been particularly lobbied for and supported by the motion pictures industry. Film production and distribution companies have repeatedly asserted that effective anti-piracy policy is crucial to their continued success. This paper seeks to evaluate whether the anti-piracy regimes in OECD countries have been effective. It also seeks to determine whether there are patterns to the types of policies that have been especially effective or ineffective.

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Exploring a Better Design of Copyright Law

Review of Economic Research on Copyright Issues, 14(2), 55-80, 2017

Shinya Kinukawa


Abstract

This study proposes a simulation model aimed at exploring how copyright law should be designed; that is, a desirable combination of copyright length and breadth. The model incorporates the specific properties of creative industries but is hard to deal with analytically because of its dynamic characteristics. Changes in social welfare under different copyright designs are thus examined by using numerical simulation. The simulation results reveal that a short and narrow copyright is the best, whereas a long and broad copyright is the worst. Moreover, in the long run, a long copyright can reduce social welfare even if the breadth is narrow.

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Remarks to the SERCI Panel on Regulatory Copyright Tariff Setting

Review of Economic Research on Copyright Issues, 14(1/2), 45-54, 2017

Gerry Wall


Abstract

This Panel concerns possible lessons for European copyright practitioners learned from the North American experience. I pose two key questions that arise from our existing copyright tariff setting processes: 1) do we need regulatory intervention to achieve appropriate prices?; and 2) how has the process worked so far and how can we make the process better?

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The Spanish Copyright Commission (Section I) Within the European Legal Framework

Review of Economic Research on Copyright Issues, 14(1/2), 39-44, 2017

Raul Rodriguez


Abstract

Directive 2014/26/EC foresees that EU member States shall ensure that disputes between collective management societies and users concerning, in particular, existing and proposed licensing conditions or a breach of contract can be submitted to a court, or if appropriate, to another independent and impartial dispute resolution body where that body has expertise in copyright law. The Spanish Copyright Commission (Section I) aims to be that body in Spain. In order to reach this objective, the Commission has been empowered with new functions that will probably reduce the existing conflicts related to copyright licensing.

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Capabilities, Spillovers, and Intellectual Progress: Toward a Human Flourishing Theory of Intellectual Property

Review of Economic Research on Copyright Issues, 14(1/2), 1-38, 2017

Brett M. Frischmann


Abstract

Courts, commentators, and even casebooks mistakenly assume that intellectual property laws are fundamentally utilitarian and thus the relevant objective for intellectual property laws is maximizing social welfare. Economic theories of intellectual property dominate while rights-based theories and other alternatives struggle to remain relevant in the discourse. This essay accepts that intellectual property laws are consequentialist, but it mounts a challenge to the utilitarian theories that dominate. Following the path set by Amartya Sen in the area of development economics and borrowing heavily from the Sen's analytical and normative framework - the Capabilities Approach, this essay begins to develop a human flourishing theory for intellectual property.

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Introduction to RERCI Vol 14(1/2)

Review of Economic Research on Copyright Issues, 14(1/2), 0, 2017

Richard Watt


Abstract

Introductory comments to the present issue of the journal.

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The Economics of Digital Goods: A Progress Report

Review of Economic Research on Copyright Issues, 13(2), 1-24, 2016

Paul Belleflamme


Abstract

I first review the theoretical apparatus that has been largely used so far to analyze information goods industries. I argued then that although this apparatus was fairly appropriate in the analog era and in the early digital era, it now needs to be significantly updated. The advent of streaming challenges indeed the main assumptions that underlie the existing models. This observation leads me to propose two main directions for future research efforts. First, one needs to better understand, and model, how streaming modifies the way content is accessed and consumed. Second, more attention should be given to the roles and strategies of streaming platforms, which become inescapable intermediaries regarding the distribution and consumption of digital goods.

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Digital Rights Management and Hardware Market Power

Review of Economic Research on Copyright Issues, 13(2), 25-65, 2016

Jin-Hyuk Kim and Michael Waldman


Abstract

Digital Rights Management (DRM) is employed by firms as a way of reducing illegal copying. In this paper we investigate the idea that it can also be associated with an increase in market power in the hardware market. In our main analysis content and hardware are complementary goods, where there are multiple hardware sellers and one of the hardware sellers owns a DRM technology that can be developed into a DRM system that makes legal content incompatible with hardware that does not employ the system. Our primary result is that the hardware producer who initially owns the DRM technology may employ closed DRM to gain market power in the hardware market because this is an efficient way to monetize its initial ownership of the technology. We also show that, depending on whether or not the content developer has positive bargaining power, the introduction of DRM may or may not result in an increase in content development. In addition to investigating these ideas in a number of related theoretical settings, we also consider the social welfare aspects of the argument and discuss its relevance for understanding the early history of Apple's iPod.

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