Does Copyright Piracy Pay? The Effects of U.S. International Copyright Laws on the Market for Books, 1790-1920

40 Pages Posted: 31 Jan 2004 Last revised: 27 Jul 2010

See all articles by B. Zorina Khan

B. Zorina Khan

Bowdoin College - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Date Written: February 2004

Abstract

Does the lack of international copyrights benefit or harm developing countries? I examine the effects of U.S. copyright piracy during a period when the U.S. was itself a developing country. U.S. statutes since 1790 protected the copyrights of American citizens, but until 1891 deemed the works of foreign citizens to be in the public domain. In 1891, the laws were changed to allow foreigners to obtain copyright protection in the United States if certain conditions were met. Thus, this episode in American history provides us with a convenient way of investigating the consequences of international copyright piracy. My analysis is based on copyright registrations, information on authors, book titles and prices, financial data from the accounts of a major publishing company, and lawsuits regarding copyright questions. These data are used to investigate the welfare effects of widespread infringement of foreign works on American publishers, writers, and the public. The results suggest that the United States benefited from piracy and that the choice of copyright regime was endogenous to the level of economic development.

Suggested Citation

Khan, B. Zorina, Does Copyright Piracy Pay? The Effects of U.S. International Copyright Laws on the Market for Books, 1790-1920 (February 2004). NBER Working Paper No. w10271. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=495776

B. Zorina Khan (Contact Author)

Bowdoin College - Department of Economics ( email )

Brunswick, ME 04011
United States
207-725-3000 (Phone)

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Here is the Coronavirus
related research on SSRN

Paper statistics

Downloads
80
Abstract Views
3,684
rank
326,447
PlumX Metrics