Handbook on the Economics of Copyright

Handbook on the Economics of Copyright

A Guide for Students and Teachers

Elgar original reference

Edited by Richard Watt

Featuring expert contributors from around the world, this book offers insight into the vital theoretical and practical aspects of the economics of copyright. Topics discussed include fair use, performers’ rights, copyright and trade, online music streaming, internet piracy, copyright and visual art markets, and open source publishing. In addition to in-depth coverage of these timely topics, the authors also offer insightful predictions and policy recommendations for the future.

Chapter 2: What limits indirect appropriability?

Michael Waldman

Subjects: economics and finance, intellectual property, law - academic, intellectual property law


When a consumer makes an illegal copy of an original work such as a recording or a book, the result is typically one less potential sale of a legal copy. In the traditional argument as found, for example, in Novos and Waldman (1984), the result is less potential revenue for the producers of the original work and thus less investment in the production of original works. The subsequent reduction in the quality and variety of original works is referred to in the literature as the underproduction loss. This idea of an underproduction loss due to illegal copying, in turn, serves as a foundation for copyright protection which makes copying harder and thus in the standard argument reduces the underproduction loss. Starting with the work of Liebowitz (1985), an alternative argument referred to as indirect appropriability has been put forth that challenges the standard argument. This alternative argument draws an analogy with the market for durable goods. As argued, for example, in Swan (1980), the original price that a durable good sells for will reflect future prices this good will trade for on the second-hand market.

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