Effects of Copyrights on Science - Evidence from the Us Book Republication Program

48 Pages Posted: 29 Jan 2018

See all articles by Barbara Biasi

Barbara Biasi

Yale School of Management

Petra Moser

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

Multiple version iconThere are 3 versions of this paper

Date Written: January 2018

Abstract

Copyrights for books, news, and other types of media are a critical mechanism to encourage creativity and innovation. Yet economic analyses continue to be rare, partly due to a lack of experimental variation in modern copyright laws. This paper exploits a change in copyright laws as a result of World War II to examine the effects of copyrights on science. In 1943, the US Book Republication Program (BRP) granted US publishers temporary licenses to republish the exact content of German-owned science books. Using new data on citations, we find that this program triggered a large increase in citations to German-owned science books. This increase was driven by a significant reduction in access costs: Each 10 percent decline in the price of BRP book was associated with a 43 percent increase in citations. To investigate the mechanism by which lower book prices influence science, we collect data on library holdings across the United States. We find that lower prices helped to distribute BRP books across US libraries, including less affluent institutions. Analyses of the locations of citing authors further indicate that citations increased most for locations that gained access to BRP books. Results are confirmed by two alternative measures of scientific output: new PhDs and US patents that use knowledge in BRP books.

Institutional subscribers to the NBER working paper series, and residents of developing countries may download this paper without additional charge at www.nber.org.

Suggested Citation

Biasi, Barbara and Moser, Petra, Effects of Copyrights on Science - Evidence from the Us Book Republication Program (January 2018). NBER Working Paper No. w24255. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3112042

Barbara Biasi (Contact Author)

Yale School of Management ( email )

135 Prospect Street
P.O. Box 208200
New Haven, CT 06520-8200
United States

Petra Moser

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

Register to save articles to
your library

Register

Paper statistics

Downloads
5
Abstract Views
280
PlumX Metrics