Peer-to-Peer File Sharing and the Market for Digital Information Goods

44 Pages Posted: 13 Dec 2006 Last revised: 15 Mar 2009

Ramon Casadesus-Masanell

Harvard University - Strategy Unit

Andres Hervas-Drane

City University London - Sir John Cass Business School

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: March 11, 2009

Abstract

We study competitive interaction between two alternative models of digital content distribution over the Internet: peer-to-peer (p2p) file sharing and centralized client-server distribution. We present microfoundations for a stylized model of p2p file sharing where all peers are endowed with standard preferences and show that the endogenous structure of the network is conducive to sharing by a significant number of peers, even if sharing is costlier than freeriding. We build on this model of p2p to analyze the optimal strategy of a profit-maximizing firm, such as Apple, that offers content available at positive prices. We characterize the size of the p2p network as a function of the firm's pricing strategy, and show that the firm may be better off setting high prices, allowing the network to survive, and that the p2p network may work more efficiently in the presence of the firm than in its absence.

Keywords: Peer-to-Peer, Congestion, Mixed Duopoly

JEL Classification: C72, D42, D71, L1, L96

Suggested Citation

Casadesus-Masanell, Ramon and Hervas-Drane, Andres, Peer-to-Peer File Sharing and the Market for Digital Information Goods (March 11, 2009). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=950968 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.950968

Ramon Casadesus-Masanell

Harvard University - Strategy Unit ( email )

Harvard Business School
Soldiers Field Road
Boston, MA 02163
United States
617-496-0176 (Phone)
617-496-5859 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.people.hbs.edu/rmasanell

Andres Hervas-Drane (Contact Author)

City University London - Sir John Cass Business School ( email )

106 Bunhill Row
London, EC1Y 8TZ
United Kingdom

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