Do Bad Things Happen When Works Enter the Public Domain?: Empirical Tests of Copyright Term Extension

50 Pages Posted: 15 Aug 2012 Last revised: 5 Sep 2012

Christopher Buccafusco

Yeshiva University - Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law

Paul J. Heald

University of Illinois College of Law

Date Written: August 15, 2012

Abstract

The international debate over copyright term extension for existing works turns on the validity of three empirical assertions about what happens to works when they fall into the public domain. Our study of the market for audio books and a related human subjects experiment suggest that all three assertions are suspect. We demonstrate that audio books made from public domain bestsellers (1913-22) are significantly more available than those made from copyrighted bestsellers (1923-32). We also demonstrate that recordings of public domain and copyrighted books are of equal quality. While a low quality recording seems to lower a listener's valuation of the underlying work, our data do not suggest any correlation between that valuation and legal status of the underlying work. We also report important pricing data.

Keywords: copyright, term, extension, underexploitation, over-exploitation, Disney, Mickey Mouse, tarnishment, debasement, market, value, experiment, economics, intellectual property

Suggested Citation

Buccafusco, Christopher and Heald, Paul J., Do Bad Things Happen When Works Enter the Public Domain?: Empirical Tests of Copyright Term Extension (August 15, 2012). Berkeley Technology Law Journal, Forthcoming; Chicago-Kent College of Law Research Paper No. 2012-04. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2130008 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2130008

Christopher J. Buccafusco (Contact Author)

Yeshiva University - Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law ( email )

55 Fifth Ave.
New York, NY 10003
United States

Paul J. Heald

University of Illinois College of Law ( email )

504 E. Pennsylvania Avenue
Champaign, IL 61820
United States
706-372-2567 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www.law.illinois.edu/faculty/profile/PaulHeald

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