The Society for Economic Research on Copyright Issues
Aims & Scope
Review of Economic Research on Copyright Issues, Vol. 4, No. 1, 47-61, 2007
Heli A. Koski
Private-collective business models that involve both private investment incentives and the production of public goods are not well understood. This empirically oriented research uses a unique data from the software industries of five European countries (Finland, Germany, Italy, Portugal and Spain) to illuminate the patterns of private, entrepreneurial provision of software placed in the public domain. The estimation results strongly suggest that the highly restrictive GPL works as an efficient coordination mechanism for the (leading) developers of the OSS community and spreads particularly via the firms that have participated in the OSS development projects. The software companies supplying the OSS, instead, tend not to aim at using the GPL to coordinate the further development of their own OSS. Rather the firms are the origin of more flexibly licensed OSS products though generally the software firms' OSS business strategies relate to the restrictive licensing strategy choices.Click to read more.
Review of Economic Research on Copyright Issues, Vol. 4, No. 1, 3-14, 2007
The particular case of software seems to have stretched the patent-copyright divide to the point of breakage. Inspite of being traditionally excluded from patent, software is an obvious case of a single creation that embodies both expression and innovation, and so strong arguments exist for software to be both copyrightable and patentable material. The legal profession has looked carefully at the patentability of software over the past 15 years or so, both from a fully legal perspective, and using economic-type arguments. But we are still waiting for the economics profession per sé to set to work on this issue. Here, I shall go through some of the most well known arguments surrounding the protection of software, and then put forward a personal opinion as to what theoretical economists are likely to add, if and when they include this important question on their research agendas.Click to read more.
Review of Economic Research on Copyright Issues, Vol. 4, No. 1, 21-46, 2007
Francois Leveque and Yann Ménière
Open Source Software is often viewed as an anti-intellectual property regime. In contrast, we argue how intellectual property law is at the heart of open source model since licenses that organize the innovation and business relationships between developers, distributors and end-users are based on copyright law. The proliferation of software patents can, however be seen as a threat for the development and deployment of open source software. We present the nature of the threat and review a series of initiatives undertaken by the open source community to address them effectively. These initiatives, such as the redesign of licenses and the creation of patent commons, are a testiment to a genuinely creative use of intellectual property law by the open source community, not its undermining.Click to read more.
Review of Economic Research on Copyright Issues, Vol. 4, No. 1, 15-25, 2007
This paper analyses the impacts of the recent discussion to extend patentability to computer-implemented inventions, i.e. to allow software patents, in Europe. Based on two surveys among the German software sector referring to the use and importance of IPR in the year 2000 and 2004, the analysis finds that the share of companies using patents in the software sector remains constant, but the relevance of this instrument increased significantly for the active users of patents. Based on a set of hypotheses on the determinants for the use of patents, we also find changes. The size bias of patent use increased, whereas there is a dichotomy between using patents and following the open source model in the software sector and not a convergence, as has been suggested by the anecdotal evidence of some large multinationals. These changes in the software sector generate several new challenges for policy makers responsible for the IPR regime relevant for software in addition to the still unsolved question of extending patentability to software in Europe.Click to read more.
Review of Economic Research on Copyright Issues, Vol. 3, No.1, 83-97, 2006
Dyuti S. Banerjee
This paper uses a strategic entry-deterrence framework to analyze the effects of enforcement sharing between the government and the monopolist in dealing with commercial copyright piracy. The monopolist is the incumbent firm and is responsible for monitoring the illegal operations of a commercial pirate, the possible entrant, who illegally reproduces and sells unauthorized copies of the monopolist's product. The monopolist bears the monitoring cost and the government is responsible for setting a penalty. We show that even when enforcement is shared the socially optimal penalty may result in no piracy in equilibrium only if the government is sensitive to piracy.Click to read more.
Review of Economic Research on Copyright Issues, Vol. 3, No.1, 61-74, 2006
Michael A. Einhorn
Performance rights organizations (PROs) provide transactional efficiency for music users and copyright owners by negotiating contracts, collecting revenue, and paying royalties for the rights to publicly perform musical compositions, thereby replacing their need to deal individually with one another in bilateral licensing. Historically, performance rights for catalogued works have been made available to users through blanket licenses, which convey the rights to perform, or have performed on licensed premises, all registered works in the corresponding catalog of registered works. While blanket licenses may enhance transactional efficiency, the same licenses are sometimes recognized as anticompetitive restrictions that compel each user to make an all or nothing choice that may force acceptance of a full license contract in place of a less inclusive alternative that may actually be preferred. Competitive concerns at the Antitrust Division of the U.S. Justice Department regarding blanket licensing at ASCAP and BMI led to a separate series of Consent Decrees for each of the two major PROs in the U.S.
To explore the disparate claims of economic efficiency, the paper finds that concepts from public utility regulation may be particularly helpful. Three characteristics are considered: where prices are subsidy-free, whether license provision is a natural monopoly, and whether any competitive submarkets can be structurally separated from the regulated core.
Review of Economic Research on Copyright Issues, Vol. 3, No.1, 43-60, 2006
Alan E. Woodfield
This paper generalizes the two-period model of Watt (2000) who demonstrates the possibility of optimal accommodation of a pirate when the royalty rate applying to a creation is uniform and second-period Cournot competition applies. Admitting nonlinear contracts with period-specific royalty rates that leave total payments unchanged, simulation analysis shows that a producer of originals does better to increase the royalty rate in period 1 and decrease the rate to a negative level in period 2, thereby more than offsetting the usual cost advantage available to a pirate. Watt's illustrative examples regarding piracy accommodation (but not piracy exclusion) are overturned when a nonlinear contract is chosen optimally, although accommodation remains optimal in some other cases. Further, where exclusion is impossible under uniform royalties, cases exist where exclusion is feasible under nonlinear royalties. Even so, accommodation may be a preferable strategy.Click to read more.
Review of Economic Research on Copyright Issues, Vol. 3, No.1, 29-42, 2006
Norbert J. Michel
Although several researchers have examined the impact of copying in other contexts, relatively little theoretical work exists that allows for the presence of a profit maximizing music industry as an intermediary between the creators of intellectual property and consumers. This paper develops a simple theoretical model of interactions between artists who create original musical compositions, record labels that distribute them, and consumers who have the option of copying rather than buying music. The model provides testable price and demand equations and suggests that file sharing may have been undertaken by consumers who were previously not in the market for music.Click to read more.
Review of Economic Research on Copyright Issues, Vol. 3, No.1, 19-27, 2006
This article shows how the principles of modern bargaining theory can help develop a better understanding of contractual terms such as royalties between copyright holders and users such as between an artist and a recording company (or between an author and a publisher). We develop the main principles in a non-technical and illustrative manner.Click to read more.
Review of Economic Research on Copyright Issues, Vol. 3, No.1, 1-17, 2006
This paper reviews briefly how the owner of the copyright to a creation can best market access to that right to licensees under a variety of assumptions concerning the market. After an introductory section, the paper considers a situation of full certainty, in which the value of the final product that is sold by licensees is fully deterministic. In that setting, we consider a very simple model in which the copyright holder himself may or may not compete with the licensee in the final product market. Above all, it is shown that a linear form for the royalty contract always suffices in equilibrium. After that, a model with certainty as to the market value of the final product is developed. In this model, we consider Pareto efficient sharing contracts, and it is shown that now a linear form is unlikely to suffice. Throughout (i.e. in both sections), we shall be interested in exactly when a linear royalty contract is efficient, since these types of contract are so prevalent in the real world.Finally, as an introduction to the papers contained in the symposium, I devote a few words to each of them in turn.Click to read more.
Review of Economic Research on Copyright Issues, Vol. 3, No. 2, 83-91, 2006
This paper argues that the emphasis by policy-makers on creativity and economic growth in the creative industries, fostered by copyright law, is not well grounded and cultural economics gives little support for these policies.Click to read more.
Review of Economic Research on Copyright Issues, Vol. 3, No. 2, 67-82, 2006
This paper will examine the Sony Playstation litigation in Australia where Sony claimed the device it used in its Playstation consoles was a technological protection measure ('TPM'). The outcome of the High Court of Australia decision is somewhat different from similar litigation run by Sony in other countries. Section 3 of this paper will examine the economics of TPMs and in particular, the device which Sony claimed in its Australian litigation was a TPM. It will reveal that copyright owners such as Sony already possess strong market incentives to implement TPMs and that the level of competition is inversely related to the incentive to protect works through TPMs. Section 4 of the paper will introduce the competition law landscape in Australia and it will analyse, within the context of Australia's competition laws, the device used by Sony which it claimed was a TPM. It will demonstrate that the use of the device by Sony is arguably conduct in breach of s46 of the Trade Practices Act 1974. Section 5 will examine the role of the law in Australia in terms of incentivising the use of TPMs.Click to read more.
Review of Economic Research on Copyright Issues, Vol. 3, No. 2, 53-66, 2006
Music is typical experience good and the formats in which music is available; for example, CDs and cassettes or downloaded files are durable in nature. Using these two typical characteristics of the 'music product', in this paper, we develop an analytical framework to study the economic implications of online music piracy. On one hand, we show that no protection against piracy is never optimal for the legitimate music producer; on the other hand, we show that complete protection against piracy may not always be the best option; the decision on the degree of limiting piracy depends on the extent of the informational value of music downloads, cost of piracy and the quality of the downloaded music and as a result a partial protection can be optimal to the music producer.Click to read more.
Review of Economic Research on Copyright Issues, Vol. 3, No. 2, 3-13, 2006
Ivan P. L. Png
I review empirical research into the economic impact of copyright law. A key difficulty is that there is little systematic measurement of creative output and copying: there are only fragmentary statistics for the various industries. Studies of U.S. copyright registrations provide conflicting results: one shows that small changes in fees have large impacts on renewals, while another shows that many movies and books have long lives. All but one studies find that music piracy - whether conventional or digital - has hurt legitimate CD sales. Studies of extensions of copyright duration yield conflicting results: one focusing on U.S. registrations finds no effect, while a multi-country study finds that extensions are associated with substantial increases in movie production. I conclude with directions for future empirical research.Click to read more.
Review of Economic Research on Copyright Issues, Vol. 3, No. 2, 29-51, 2006
Christian W. Handke
The record industry has become emblematic in debates on reforming copyright law. Economists have mainly studied the extent to which a surge in unauthorised copying is destroying the industry by displacing demand for authorised copies. The effect of technological change on industry structure has received little attention. This paper presents evidence for an extraordinarily high number of market entries by small record companies during a severe recession in the German market for phonograms. This finding is more consistent with a restructuring of the record industry in the context of technological change - i.e. creative destruction - than with plain destruction due to diminished appropriability. If that is the case, isolated attempts to reinforce copyright protection could be misguided. They should be complemented by efforts to promote innovation within the record industry.Click to read more.