Effects of Copyrights on Science
76 Pages Posted: 26 Dec 2014 Last revised: 26 Dec 2018
Date Written: December 10, 2018
Copyrights establish intellectual property in cultural goods, such as music, literature, and science. Intended to encourage creativity, they can however also create significant costs for later generations of authors, inventors, and composers. This paper examines the effects of such costs on science, a field in which the creation of new knowledge depends critically on access to existing work. The empirical analysis examines an important historical change in copyrights as a result of WWII, when the Book Republication Program (BRP) allowed US publishers to violate German-owned copyrights. Using two complementary identification strategies, we find that this change led to a substantial increase in citations to affected books. Intensity regressions show that this increase was driven by reductions in the price of books. A geographic analysis of library holdings and citations suggests that lower prices for BRP books allowed a new group of researchers at less affluent institutions to use these books in their own research. Two alternative ways to measure science – new PhDs and new patents – confirm the main results.
Keywords: Copyrights, Science, Economic History, World War II
JEL Classification: O34, L82, N42
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation