Infringing Use as a Path to Legal Consumption: Evidence from a Field Experiment

29 Pages Posted: 15 Jan 2019 Last revised: 19 Jul 2021

See all articles by Hong Luo

Hong Luo

Harvard Business School - Strategy Unit

Julie H. Mortimer

Boston College; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); Harvard University - Department of Economics

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: January 2019

Abstract

Copyright infringement may result from frictions preventing legal consumption, but may also reveal demand. Motivated by this fact, we run a field experiment in which we contact firms that are caught infringing on expensive digital images. Emails to all firms include a link to the licensing page of the infringed image; for treated firms, we add links to a significantly cheaper licensing site. Making infringers aware of the cheaper option leads to a fourteen-fold increase in the ex-post licensing rate. Two additional experimental interventions are designed to reduce search costs for (i) price and (ii) product information. Both interventions-immediate price comparison and recommendation of images similar to those infringed-have large positive effects. Our results highlight the importance of mitigating user costs in small-value transactions.

Suggested Citation

Luo, Hong and Mortimer, Julie H., Infringing Use as a Path to Legal Consumption: Evidence from a Field Experiment (January 2019). NBER Working Paper No. w25453, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3315294

Hong Luo (Contact Author)

Harvard Business School - Strategy Unit ( email )

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Julie H. Mortimer

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