How Copyright Keeps Works Disappeared

55 Pages Posted: 6 Jul 2013 Last revised: 31 Mar 2014

See all articles by Paul J. Heald

Paul J. Heald

University of Illinois College of Law

Date Written: July 5, 2013


A random sample of new books for sale on shows more books for sale from the 1880’s than the 1980’s. Why? This paper presents new data on how copyright stifles the reappearance of works. First, a random sample of more than 2000 new books for sale on is analyzed along with a random sample of almost 2000 songs available on new DVD’s. Copyright status correlates highly with absence from the Amazon shelf. Together with publishing business models, copyright law seems to deter distribution and diminish access. Further analysis of eBook markets, used books on, and the Chicago Public library collection suggests that no alternative marketplace for out-of-print books has yet developed. Data from iTunes and YouTube, however, tell a different story for older hit songs. The much wider availability of old music in digital form may be explained by the differing holdings in two important cases Boosey & Hawkes v. Disney (music) and Random House v. Rosetta Stone (books).

Keywords: empirical, Amazon, Youtube, public domain, DMCA, secondary liability, copyright, term extension

JEL Classification: D23, D42, K00, K11, O31, O34

Suggested Citation

Heald, Paul J., How Copyright Keeps Works Disappeared (July 5, 2013). Illinois Program in Law, Behavior and Social Science Paper No. LBSS14-07, Illinois Public Law Research Paper No. 13-54, Available at SSRN: or

Paul J. Heald (Contact Author)

University of Illinois College of Law ( email )

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


Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics