The Economics of Platform Liability
31 Pages Posted: 25 Feb 2021 Last revised: 29 Jul 2021
Date Written: July 29, 2021
Public authorities in many jurisdictions are concerned about the proliferation of illegal content and products on online platforms. One often discussed solution is to make the platform liable for third parties’ misconduct. In this paper, we first identify platform incentives to stop online misconduct absent liability. Then, we provide an economic appraisal of platform liability that highlights the indirect effects of a more stringent liability rule on several key variables such as prices, terms and conditions, business models, and investments. Specifically, we discuss the impact of the liability regime applying to online platforms on competition between them and the incentives of third parties relying on them. Finally, we analyze the potential costs and benefits of measures that have received much attention in recent policy discussions.
Keywords: liability rules, online platforms, illegal content and products, intellectual property
JEL Classification: K40, K42, K13, L22, L86
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