Copyright and Creativity: Evidence from Italian Operas
Department of Economics, University of California - Los Angeles
Leonard N. Stern School of Business - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)
September 22, 2016
This paper exploits variation in the adoption of copyright laws within Italy – as a result of variation in the timing of Napoleon’s military victories – to examine the effects of copyrights on creativity. To measure variation creative output, we use new data on 2,598 operas that premiered across eight states within Italy between 1770 and 1900. These data indicate that the adoption of copyrights led to a significant increase in the number of new operas premiered per state and year. We find that the number of high-quality operas also increased – measured both by their contemporary popularity and by the longevity of operas. By comparison, evidence for a significant effect of copyright extensions is limited. Our analysis of alternative mechanisms for this increase reveals a substantial shift in composer migration in response to copyrights. Consistent with agglomeration externalities, we also find that cities with a better pre-existing infrastructure of performance spaces benefitted more copyright laws.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 59
Keywords: Copyright, intellectual property, creativity, innovation, music, culture
JEL Classification: O3, O33, O34, K11, N3
Date posted: October 6, 2014 ; Last revised: September 23, 2016
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