Copyrights and Creativity: Evidence from Italian Opera in the Napoleonic Age

95 Pages Posted: 6 Oct 2014 Last revised: 17 Mar 2020

See all articles by Michela Giorcelli

Michela Giorcelli

University of California - Los Angeles; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Petra Moser

NYU Stern Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Date Written: May 16, 2019

Abstract

Copyrights establish intellectual property rights in creative goods ranging from literature and science to images, film, and music. Although their primary purpose is to encourage creativity, systematic evidence on the causal effects of copyrights continues to be scarce, primarily due to a lack of exogenous variation in modern copyright laws. To address this issue, this paper exploits exogenous variation in the adoption of copyrights within Italy – as a result of the timing of Napoléon’s military victories – to examine the effects of copyrights on the creation of new operas. Because opera is a public art form, new works are exceptionally well-documented, offering unique opportunities to observe changes in creativity. Difference-in-differences analyses show that basic copyrights increased both the number and the quality of operas, measured by their immediate success and durability. Notably, there is no evidence of comparable benefits for extensions in copyright lengths beyond the life of the composer. Complementary analyses for other types of musical compositions confirm the main results.

Keywords: Intellectual Property, Copyright, Creativity, Institutions, Media

JEL Classification: K11, O3, O33, O34, N3

Suggested Citation

Giorcelli, Michela and Moser, Petra, Copyrights and Creativity: Evidence from Italian Opera in the Napoleonic Age (May 16, 2019). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2505776 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2505776

Michela Giorcelli

University of California - Los Angeles ( email )

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National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

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Petra Moser (Contact Author)

NYU Stern Department of Economics ( email )

44 West 4th Street
New York, NY 10003
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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