The Economics of Copyright Law: A Stocktake of the Literature
22 Pages Posted: 17 Aug 2008 Last revised: 19 Sep 2008
Date Written: June 30, 2008
This article is a survey of publications by economists writing on copyright law. It begins with a general overview of how economists analyse these questions; the distinction is made between the economics of copying and the economic aspects of copyright law as analysed in law and economics. It then continues with sections on research on the effects of copying and downloading and the effects of unauthorised use ('piracy') and ends with an overall evaluation of the economics of copyright in the light of recent technological changes. Economists have always been, and still are, somewhat sceptical about copyright and question what alternatives there are to it. On balance, most accept the role of copyright law in the creative industries while urging caution about its becoming too strong. And although European authors' rights are different in legal terms from the Anglo-American copyright, the economic analysis of these laws is essentially the same.
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By Ruth Towse