Can Private Copyright Protection Be Effective? Evidence From Book Publishing

Posted: 16 May 2016

See all articles by Imke Reimers

Imke Reimers

Northeastern University - Department of Economics

Date Written: May 13, 2016

Abstract

Digitization has impacted publishing, news, and entertainment industries in recent years by lowering the cost of access. With the option to download creative works legally, however, come the possibility of doing so illegally and the issue of how to protect copyrighted works effectively. Public (legislative) and formal (legal) efforts to prevent copyright infringements have been controversial or inefficient. The book industry showcases an alternative approach in which private companies use relatively inexpensive network surveillance to protect individual titles. I estimate the effectiveness of such protection on legal sales of books that become protected using a difference-in-differences approach. I find a protection-related increase of e-book sales - the closest substitute for online piracy - of more than 14 percent, with effectiveness depending on popularity, genre, and search frequency. Most of the increase is due to prevention of "casual" infringements, rather than professional piracy.

JEL Classification: L17, L50, O34, L82

Suggested Citation

Reimers, Imke, Can Private Copyright Protection Be Effective? Evidence From Book Publishing (May 13, 2016). Journal of Law and Economics, Vol. 59, 2016, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2780537

Imke Reimers (Contact Author)

Northeastern University - Department of Economics ( email )

301 Lake Hall
Boston, MA 02115
United States

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