Abstract

http://ssrn.com/abstract=2296095
 


 



Copyright and the Profitability of Authorship: Evidence from Payments to Writers in the Romantic Period


Megan MacGarvie


Boston University School of Management; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Petra Moser


Stanford University - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

July 31, 2013

Economics of Digitization (Shane Greenstein, Avi Goldfarb, and Catherine Tucker, editors), from University of Chicago Press, Forthcoming

Abstract:     
Proponents of stronger copyright terms have argued that stronger copyright terms encourage creativity by increasing the profitability of authorship. Empirical evidence, however, is scarce, because data on the profitability of authorship is typically not available to the public. Moreover at current copyright lengths of 70 years after the author’s death, further extensions may not have any effects on the profitability of authorship. To investigate effects of copyright at lower pre-existing levels of protection, this chapter introduces a new data set of publishers’ payments to authors of British fiction between 1800 and 1830. These data indicate that payments to authors nearly doubled following an increase in the length of copyright in 1814. These findings suggest that – starting from low pre-existing levels of protection – policies that strengthen copyright terms may, in fact, increase the profitability of authorship.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 34

Keywords: Copyright, creativity, property rights, ideas

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Date posted: July 22, 2013 ; Last revised: November 11, 2013

Suggested Citation

MacGarvie, Megan and Moser, Petra, Copyright and the Profitability of Authorship: Evidence from Payments to Writers in the Romantic Period (July 31, 2013). Economics of Digitization (Shane Greenstein, Avi Goldfarb, and Catherine Tucker, editors), from University of Chicago Press, Forthcoming . Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2296095 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2296095

Contact Information

Megan MacGarvie
Boston University School of Management ( email )
595 Commonwealth Avenue
Boston, MA 02215
United States
National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)
1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
Petra Moser (Contact Author)
Stanford University - Department of Economics ( email )
Landau Economics Building
579 Serra Mall
Stanford, CA 94305-6072
United States
National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)
1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
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