Friday, September 28, 2007

Outgrowing Copyright

In an attempt to explain the effect of market growth on copyright policy, I earlier told a parable, promising graphs to follow. In the meantime, I've drafted an entire paper on the topic, Outgrowing Copyright: The Effect of Market Size on Copyright Policy [PDF].

You can find the graphs describing the parable—actually, modified version of the story I told earlier—in that paper. Rather than replicate those graphs, here, I'll offer you the paper's abstract:
Does copyright protection offer the best means of stimulating the production of expressive works? Perhaps, at the moment, it does. If so, however, it will probably become inefficiently over-protective as the market for expressive works grows. With such growth, copyright owners will find it increasingly easy to engage in price discrimination against customers willing to pay a premium for particular expressive works. In so narrowly divided a market, the power to bar substantially similar copies will empower copyright owners to extract monopoly rents. And, yet, we have no reason to expect that copyright's production or distribution costs will likewise increase. Holding all else equal, therefore, growth in the market for expressive works will at some point cause copyright's social costs to outweigh its benefits. This paper explains that effect and discusses how policymakers should respond.

The paper includes not just graphs describing the parable of the village authors, but graphs of more general import. I might share some of those in upcoming posts.

[Crossposted to The Technology Liberation Front.]

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