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
Date Written: December 12, 2012
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.
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