Felix Oberholzer-Gee at Harvard and Koleman Strauss at Uni. of Kansas take an empirical look at the effect of file sharing on copyright industries.
They accept that file sharing has weakened copyright protection (although they are quite sceptical about the studies trying to prove this). They argue this is only part of the question, however, for policy-makers. They contend that, if the role of copyright is to provide incentives to create new works, it is necessary to look rather more widely.
For example, they note:
- the publishing of new books increased by 66%
- the number of new albums released more than doubled;
- the number of feature films produced has increased by 30%,
in the early years of the 21st century.
They also note that revenues from concert sales and merchandising and the like has also increased.
Exploring this, their tentative conclusion for policymakers:
The role of complements makes it necessary to adopt a broad view of markets when considering the impact of file sharing on the creative industries. Unfortunately, the popular press – and a good number of policy experts – often evaluate file sharing looking at a single product market. Analyzing trends in CD sales, for example, they conclude that piracy has wrecked havoc on the music business. This view confuses value creation and value capture. Record companies may find it more difficult to profitably sell CDs, but the broader industry is in a far better position. In fact, it is easy to make an argument that the business has grown considerably.
Download the pdf here.
Lid dip Joshua Gans