The Society for Economic Research on Copyright Issues

Review of Economic Research on Copyright Issues (RERCI)

RERCI Articles

Copyright in the Digital Age; Benefiting Users and Creators?

Review of Economic Research on Copyright Issues, Vol. 8, No. 2, 55-64, 2011

Peter Jenner


Abstract

Copyright is supposed to establish a mechanism under which content users contribute to creators' income, thereby providing incentives for creators to create new and original content for end-users to consume. However, in the current digital environment one can suggest that this arrangement is breaking down. The necessary flow of content is not being achieved in such a manner as to provide a satisfactory flow of revenue back to the creators, or is it vice versa? It can also be argued that the copyright system is not providing enough revenue for distributors to provide the sort of services that users would like with the current pricing structures, use restrictions and rights complexity demanded by the major controllers of music copyrights. In this essay I consider the current state of affairs regarding the copyright system, and its effects for all participants along the value chain for protected content.

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Indefinitely Renewable Copyright and the Current Copyright System: A Two Country Setting Comparison

Review of Economic Research on Copyright Issues, Vol. 8, No. 2, 35-54, 2011

Michael Y. Yuan and Koji Domon


Abstract

As an alternative to the current copyright system (FLC), indefinitely renewable copyright (IRC) has not been compared to the current system in international settings. We compare them in a two country setting. We find that optimally configured IRC does not necessarily lead to higher national or global welfare than an optimally configured FLC.

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Competition Policy, Patent Pools and Copyright Collectives

Review of Economic Research on Copyright Issues, Vol. 8, No. 2, 3-34, 2011

Nancy Gallini


Abstract

This paper analyzes and compares two types of cooperative agreements that combine Intellectual Property (IP): patent pools and copyright collectives. I evaluate antitrust policy in three environments in which owners of the intellectual property (IP): (1) are vertically integrated into the downstream (product) market; (2) face competition in the upstream (input) market and (3) own downstream products that do not require a license on the pooled IP but compete with products that do. Although patent pools and copyright collectives differ in purpose, membership size and market conditions, their efficiency implications are qualitatively similar in each of the three situations. Therefore, a uniform rather than IP-specific competition policy is appropriate for pools and collectives, thus lending economic support for the approach followed by antitrust authorities toward IP-related cooperative agreements.

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What We Know, What We Don't Know, and What Policy-makers Would Like Us to Know About the Economics of Copyright

Review of Economic Research on Copyright Issues, Vol. 8, No. 2, 101-120, 2011

Ruth Towse


Abstract

There are many gaps between what economists know and what they don't know. This article reviews this situation in the light of what policy-makers say they want to know about the economic effects of copyright. The article sets out what I see as misunderstandings on the part of policy-makers as to what economics can offer in the way of evidence on copyright. The paper is based on my limited experience of advising and consulting as well as on reading calls for evidence in policy documents.

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The Google Book Search Settlement: A Law and Economics Analysis

Review of Economic Research on Copyright Issues, Vol. 8, No. 1, 7-50, 2011

Frank Mueller-Langer and Marc Scheufen


Abstract

Beginning in December 2004 Google has pursued a new project to create a book search engine (Google Book Search). The project has released a storm of controversy around the globe. While the supporters of Google Book Search conceive the project as a first reasonable step towards unlimited access to knowledge in the information age, its opponents fear profound negative effects due to an erosion of copyright law.
Our law and economics analysis of the Book Search Project suggests that - from a copyright perspective - the proposed settlement may be beneficial to right holders, consumers, and Google. For instance, it may provide a solution to the still unsolved dilemma of orphan works. From a competition policy perspective, we stress the important aspect that Google's pricing algorithm for orphan and unclaimed works effectively replicates a competitive Nash-Bertrand market outcome under post-settlement, third-party oversight.

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Revenue Sharing as Compensation for Copyright Holders

Review of Economic Research on Copyright Issues, Vol. 8, No. 1, 51-97, 2011

Richard Watt


Abstract

Essential inputs are an important topic of debate for economics. One common essential input is intellectual property, in the form of either patents or copyrights, which the producers of goods and services for final consumption must necessarily purchase from the input supplier. The ensuing monopoly power of the input supplier leads in many cases to controversial outcomes, in which social inefficiencies can occur. In much of the literature on the economics of intellectual property, it is assumed that the right holder is remunerated either by a fixed payment or by a payment that amounts to an additional marginal cost to the user, or both. However, in some significant instances in the real-world, right holders are constrained to use (or may choose to use) a compensation scheme that involves revenue sharing. That is, the right holder takes as remuneration a part of the user's revenue. In essence, the remuneration is set as a tax on the user's revenue. This paper analysis such remuneration mechanisms, establishing and analysing the optimal tax rate, and also the Nash equilibrium tax rate that would emerge from a fair and unconstrained bargaining problem. The second option provides a rate that may be useful for regulatory authorities. The model is calibrated against a (hypothetical) scenario in which the copyright holders in music are paid a regulated share of the revenue of music radio stations, a topic that is presently at the fore-front of the economics of copyright pricing.

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Digital Technology, Price Discrimination, and Copyright Duration Extension

Review of Economic Research on Copyright Issues, Vol. 7, No. 2, 39-55, 2010

Michael Y. Yuan


Abstract

Many countries have yet to decide whether extend copyright duration. Technological changes were cited by a U.S. Senate report to support duration extension. This study adds to the assessment of the validity of the technological argument by simulating the effect on optimal copyright duration of increased price discrimination caused by digital technology. Simulation of a model of information product market indicates that increase of price discrimination on high-end market calls for shorter copyright duration; that on low-end market may support extension, if the discrimination benefits consumers, and otherwise work against it. It further suggests price discrimination on low-end market increases welfare and supply of original information products but that on the high-end market may either increase or decrease them.

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The Four P's of Digital Distribution in the Internet Era: Piracy, Pie-Splitting, and Pipe Control

Review of Economic Research on Copyright Issues, Vol. 7, No. 2, 3-20, 2010

Joel Waldfogel


Abstract

The first decade of the new millennium has been the decade of digital distribution for media products. All products that can be digitized have either been affected, or will soon be. Since the early days of the Internet, piracy has emerged as an important threat to media firms. But new technology also brings an opportunity for firms to engage in new models of pricing. Many of these new forms of pricing produce revenue that is not readily attributed to particular owners, making it necessary for sellers to create new methods for sharing revenue, or pie-splitting. Affected industries have mobilized to enact a number of non-market responses, including recent efforts to induce Internet Service Providers to control the flow of unpaid content through their pipes. This essay reviews the threats, opportunities, and challenges to media firms that have emerged over the past decade, with attention to piracy, pricing, pie-splitting, and pipe control.

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Fair Copyright Remuneration: The Case of Music Radio

Review of Economic Research on Copyright Issues, Vol. 7, No. 2, 21-37, 2010

Richard Watt


Abstract

The issue of what price should be set for the music input to radio broadcasts has been hotly debated recently in several countries, including USA, Canada and New Zealand. Since music is subject to copyright, this is an issue that is of great importance to the economics of copyright. The central point is the fact that, because of the economic efficiency that is gained by collective management and blanket licencing, the copyright holders in music are represented by a single bargaining unit. The ensuing monopoly power is often seen to be detrimental to social efficiency, and so in exchange for allowing the collective to form and operate, the price at which it grants access to its repertory is regulated. The regulated price should be set at a fair and equitable level. In this paper, the Shapley methodology is used to attempt to provide such a tariff.

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Copyright & Endogenous Market Structure: A Glimpse from the Journal Publishing Market

Review of Economic Research on Copyright Issues, Vol. 7, No. 1, 7-29, 2010

Giovanni Battista Ramello


Abstract

This article explores the journal publishing industry in order to shed light on the overall economic consequences of copyright in markets. Since the rationale for copyright is among others to promise some market power to the holder of the successful copyrighted item, it also provides incentives to preserve and extend market power. A regular trait of copyright industries is high concentration and the creation of large catalogues of copyrights in the hands of incumbents. This outcome can be observed as the aggregation of rights and is one of the pivotal strategies for obtaining or extending market power, consistently with findings in other cases. Journal publishing is no different in this respect from other copyright industries, and in the last decade has experienced a similar trajectory, leading to a highly concentrated industry in which a handful of large firms increasingly control a substantial part of the market.
It also provides a clear example of the effect of copyright dynamics on market structure, suggesting that a different attitude should be taken in lawmaking and law enforcement.

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Radio Airplay, Digital Music Sales and the Fallacy of Composition in New Zealand

Review of Economic Research on Copyright Issues, Vol. 7, No. 1, 67-81, 2010

Mehnaz Bandookwala


Abstract

I examine the effect that radio airplay has on the sale of digital music in New Zealand. This effect is also likely to influence the behavior of various music industry participants, including the record companies, radio industry and listeners. I find that on an industry level, radio airplay has no significant effect on the sale of digital music. However, on average, an increase in radio airplay of a given song is predicted to increase sales of that song, which is the so-called exposure effect. The discrepancy between the aggregate and individual effects is explained by the existence of the fallacy of composition: An increase in the airplay of a particular song usually happens at the expense of another song's airplay, and so if more airplay does give greater sales of a given song, so less airplay will reduce the sales of competing songs, leading to ambiguous aggregate effects. It is also true that while individual songs compete with other songs for airplay, the radio industry competes with other activities and products consumed by listeners. Increases in the total airplay may not increase total sales, as the listener's decision regarding digital single purchase is now made with consideration of their non-music consumption goods, and budget and time constraints.

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Copyright and Open Access for Academic Works

Review of Economic Research on Copyright Issues, Vol. 7, No. 1, 45-65, 2010

Frank Mueller-Langer and Richard Watt


Abstract

In a recent paper, Prof. Steven Shavell (see Shavell, 2009) has argued strongly in favor of eliminating copyright from academic works. Based upon solid economic arguments, Shavell analyses the pros and cons of removal of copyright and in its place to have a pure open access system, in which authors (or more likely their employers) would provide the funds that keep journals in business. In this paper we explore some of the arguments in Shavell’s paper, above all the way in which the distribution of the sources of journal revenue would be altered, and the feasible effects upon the quality of journal content. We propose a slight modification to a pure open access system which may provide for the best of both the copyright and open access worlds.

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A Response to Prof. Shavell's 'Should Copyright of Academic Works Be Abolished?'

Review of Economic Research on Copyright Issues, Vol. 7, No. 1, 31-44, 2010

Hossein Nabilou


Abstract

Undoubtedly, the idea of strong property rights is the underlying idea of economics and one of the main sources of economic incentive. In his paper, Prof. Shavell (see Shavell, 2009) seems to question and eventually impugn the idea of the economic efficiency of property rights in the market place of ideas in the academic world. In this regard, I will criticize his paper with the economic methods and will explain how Prof. Shavell's idea of the abolishing copyrights for the academic works might suffer from inconsistencies and also lacks the merits in generating a more economically efficient atmosphere for the academic works.

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Introduction: Copyright and the Publishing of Scientific Works

Review of Economic Research on Copyright Issues, Vol. 7, No. 1, 1-6, 2010

Richard Watt


Abstract

This paper is the introduction to the symposium "Copyright in Academic Publishing".

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Creativity and the Economics of the Copyright Controversy

Review of Economic Research on Copyright Issues, Vol. 6, No. 2, 5-12, 2009

Harold Demsetz


Abstract

The debate about copyright law centers on the apparent tradeoff between the creation of new works and the extent to which these works are used once they are created. Economics has been employed explicitly and implicitly to bolster positions taken by those involved in this debate. I do not directly join this debate here, but what I will say is relevant to it. My objectives are different, to draw attention to the neglect of creativity by economists and to describe some of the unique problems this neglect poses for those who use traditional economic models to explain and support the positions they take in this debate. It is no intent of mine to discourage the use of traditional economic models but, rather, to urge greater care in their use.

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