Piracy on the Silver Screen

33 Pages Posted: 22 Apr 2006 Last revised: 2 Jul 2009

See all articles by Joel Waldfogel

Joel Waldfogel

University of Minnesota - Twin Cities - Carlson School of Management; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); University of Minnesota - Twin Cities - Department of Economics

Rafael Rob

University of Pennsylvania - Department of Economics

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: February 2006

Abstract

New information technology has reduced marginal production and distribution costs of information goods to negligible levels and promises to revolutionize many industries. Unpaid copies of digital products can be as good as paid first-generation copies, and their availability can undermine the ability of sellers to cover first-copy costs. As a result, unpaid distribution has emerged as a major issue facing the music and movie industries in the past few years. Using survey data on movie consumption by about 500 University of Pennsylvania college students, we ask whether unpaid consumption of movies displaces paid consumption. Employing a variety of cross-sectional and longitudinal empirical approaches, we find large and statistically significant evidence of displacement. In what we view as the most appropriate empirical specifications, we find that unpaid first consumption reduces paid consumption by about 1 unit. Unpaid second consumption has a smaller effect, about 0.20 units. These estimates indicate that unpaid consumption, which makes up 5.2 percent of movie viewing in our sample, reduced paid consumption in our sample by 3.5 percent.

Suggested Citation

Waldfogel, Joel and Rob, Rafael, Piracy on the Silver Screen (February 2006). NBER Working Paper No. w12010, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=881244

Joel Waldfogel

University of Minnesota - Twin Cities - Carlson School of Management ( email )

19th Avenue South
Minneapolis, MN 55455
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

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University of Minnesota - Twin Cities - Department of Economics ( email )

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Minneapolis, MN 55455
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Rafael Rob (Contact Author)

University of Pennsylvania - Department of Economics ( email )

Ronald O. Perelman Center for Political Science
133 South 36th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6297
United States
215-898-6775 (Phone)
215-573-2057 (Fax)

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