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Developments in the Economics of Copyright

Research and Analysis

Edited by Lisa N. Takeyama, Wendy J. Gordon and Ruth Towse

This innovative and insightful book, written by some of the leading academics in the field, advances research frontiers on intellectual property and copyright issues. Topics addressed include: peer-to-peer music file sharing, optimal fair use standards, the benefits of copyright collectives, copyright and market entry, alternatives to copyright, the impact of copyright on knowledge production, the proper balance between copyright and competition law, and the application of systematic principles to issues that arise at the periphery of intellectual property law – all with an eye toward economics.
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Chapter 7: Private appropriability and sharing of knowledge: convergence or contradiction? The opposite tragedy of the creative commons

Giovanni B. Ramello


Giovanni B. Ramello 7.1 INTRODUCTION One of the many Greek myths tells how Eos, goddess of dawn, fell in love with a handsome young man of royal Trojan blood, Tithonus. The goddess was so taken with Tithonus that she asked Zeus to make him immortal, so that they could be happy together forever. The wish was granted but turned out to be a double-edged sword, because the gift of immortality did not come with perpetual youth. So as time went by, and Tithonus withered and grew old, the passion of the goddess died away. Now, every myth contains a metaphor designed to teach us something. The lesson we can draw here is that, when policy design fails to accurately grasp the nature of the reality, the outcomes of the policy can be very different from those envisaged. In this chapter we shall argue that, due to analytical shortcomings, the present-day policy of extending and strengthening copyright is liable to produce inefficient outcomes in the knowledge domain, analogous to those described in the above myth. Note that we are not here disputing copyright as it was, say, up until the 1990s, when it seemed to adequately balance the public need for access to information with the provision of a private incentive to creators – a state of affairs which, for the sake of simplicity, I have defined as ‘minimal copyright’.1 That original form of copyright, to be absolutely clear, was fully compatible and consistent with its statutory goals,...

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