In theory, notice-and-takedown regimes can lower transaction costs by facilitating communication between users and copyright owners, especially where content filtering automates much of the process. This market study tests the transaction costs theory by tracking 90 songs on YouTube that reached No. 1 on the US, French, and Brazilian pop charts from 1930 to 1960. The data collected includes the identity of the uploader, type of upload, number of views, date of upload, and monetization status. YouTube uploads of a sample of 385 popular songs from 1919–1926 are also charted. An analysis of the data demonstrates that the DMCA safe harbor system as applied to YouTube helps maintain public access to many old songs by allowing those possessing copies (primarily infringers) to communicate relatively costlessly with copyright owners in order to satisfy the market of potential listeners. Keywords: Notice-and-take-down; YouTube; transaction costs; US Digital Millennium Copyright Act; safe harbor system
Paul J. Heald
Empirical research suggests strongly that copyright law—or at least excessive term length—has a negative effect on the public availability of works. Books, for example, become more available when they fall into the public domain. Also, follow-on works, such as audiobooks, are created at a higher rate after the underlying work falls into the public domain. In addition, for the most popular works, copyright is associated with significantly higher prices, which affects accessibility. Empirical evidence of other copyright-related market constraints is presented.