Handbook on the Economics of the Media

Handbook on the Economics of the Media

Edited by Robert G. Picard and Steve S. Wildman

This Handbook explores the economic features of the media and its infrastructure to provide readers with a sophisticated understanding of the critical issues and their influence on companies, audiences and regulators. The contributors explore and explain the impact of underlying factors such as multi-sided platforms, advertising and industry structure. They assess the unique economic factors affecting print, broadcast and broadband-based media, and highlight how the economics of the media can influence policy making. Each original chapter introduces the reader to a specific topic, reviews the literature on the development of knowledge in the field, explores critiques of the approach, and provides an understanding of applying this knowledge and the implications.

Chapter 15: Economics and economic impact of copyright

Ruth Towse

Subjects: economics and finance, cultural economics, industrial economics, innovation and technology, technology and ict


With one or two notable exceptions, interest in the economics of copyright developed in the last quarter of the twentieth century, the period in which copying devices became widely used in various media – photocopying for printed material, cassettes then CD burners for music, video machines and time-shifting for TV and camcorders for filming films in cinemas. As newer and more powerful copying and distribution technologies developed so did large scale unlawful copying (‘piracy’) and that stimulated interest in the economic aspects of copyright. Subsequently, digitization has led to questioning of the role and feasibility of copyright as an economic incentive for creativity and to a search for business models that can promote markets for digital media products. These developments have proceeded hand in hand with the recognition of the contribution of the creative industries (cultural and media industries) to GDP in both developed and developing countries and the impact of copyright on economic growth. There are essentially three aspects to the economics of copyright: one, the application of economic theories to copyright; two, empirical measurement of the contribution to GDP and employment (the ‘positive’ side) of so-called copyright-based industries and of the impact of illegal uses or ‘piracy’ (the negative side) in those industries, reflecting a shift from purely legal concerns towards the recognition of the economic, social and political effects of copyright on the part of policy and policy-makers who look to economists for evidence.

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