Paradise Lost or Fantasy Island? The Payment of British Authors in 19th Century America

Posted: 13 Aug 2016 Last revised: 19 Dec 2016

See all articles by Stan J. Liebowitz

Stan J. Liebowitz

University of Texas at Dallas - School of Management - Department of Finance & Managerial Economics

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: August 8, 2016

Abstract

The payments to British authors by American publishers during the mid-19th century, when the works of British authors lacked American copyright protection, has been presented as evidence that copyright might have little benefit to authors. This paper reexamines the evidence that has been used to support this claim and then presents previously unexamined information on payments to British authors by leading American publishers of the period. The main finding is that payments to British authors were minimal or non-existent prior to the establishment of a no-compete agreement among leading American publishers. Even after implementation of this agreement, many British authors were not paid, and those who were paid received considerably less than they would have received under copyright. Because antitrust disallows such agreements, this 19th natural experiment indicates that the removal of copyright in modern economies would likely eviscerate payments to authors.

Keywords: copyright, publishing, Royal Copyright Commission, cartel, intellectual property

JEL Classification: K11, d23, D43, D40,o34, n8

Suggested Citation

Liebowitz, Stan J., Paradise Lost or Fantasy Island? The Payment of British Authors in 19th Century America (August 8, 2016). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2820336 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2676048

Stan J. Liebowitz (Contact Author)

University of Texas at Dallas - School of Management - Department of Finance & Managerial Economics ( email )

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HOME PAGE: http://www.utdallas.edu/~liebowit/

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