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More Music in Movies: What Box Office Data Reveals About the Availability of Public Domain Songs in Movies from 1968-2008

25 Pages Posted: 13 Feb 2013 Last revised: 22 Apr 2013

Paul J. Heald

University of Illinois College of Law

Peibei Shi

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign - Department of Statistics

Jeffrey Stoiber

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign - Department of Statistics

Qingyao Zheng

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign - Department of Statistics

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Date Written: December 12, 2012

Abstract

A previous empirical study suggested that as copyrighted songs transitioned into the public domain they were used just as frequently in movie soundtracks as when they were still legally protected.That study, however, did not account for the number people who viewedeach movie in the theater. Since the debate over copyright term extension centers on the continuing “availability” of works as they fall into the public domain, a better measure of the availability of songs in movies would account for the relative box office success of the movies in which the songs appear. The present study collects box office data for hundreds of movies from 1968-2008 in which appeared hundreds of songs and concludes that public domain songs were heard by just as many people in movie theaters before and after they fell into the public domain.

Suggested Citation

Heald, Paul J. and Shi, Peibei and Stoiber, Jeffrey and Zheng, Qingyao, More Music in Movies: What Box Office Data Reveals About the Availability of Public Domain Songs in Movies from 1968-2008 (December 12, 2012). Review of Economic Research on Copyright Issues, Vol. 9, No. 2, pp. 31-54, 2012; Illinois Public Law Research Paper No. 11-23. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2216166

Paul Heald (Contact Author)

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

Peibei Shi

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign - Department of Statistics ( email )

725 S Wright
Champaign, IL 61820
United States

Jeffrey Stoiber

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign - Department of Statistics ( email )

725 S Wright
Champaign, IL 61820
United States

Qingyao Zheng

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign - Department of Statistics ( email )

725 S Wright
Champaign, IL 61820
United States

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