Edited by Luc Soete and Bas ter Weel
Chapter 9: Some economics of digital content
9. 9.1 Some economics of digital content* Wilfred Dolfsma CONTENT INDUSTRIES Content may be deﬁned, by looking at the use of communication infrastructures such as the Internet, as the information exchanged that is not necessary to maintain the infrastructure itself. Content includes entertainment people seek, but includes personal exchanges of emails as well. I focus mostly on the information exchanged by people via the Internet that is unrelated to their professional activities. To give an indication of the extent to which the Internet is used for purposes other than ‘functional’ ones, observe Table 9.1 showing the most sought keywords. Content is in large part the product of the (mostly) deliberate eﬀorts of individuals and organizations to be creative, and content tends to be an information good. Information goods have properties that make them distinct from the goods exchanged on markets that generally ﬁgure in economic theories. Consumption by one person does not exclude in any way the consumption by others. In addition, and especially using ICT, an information good may be consumed by several (many) individuals at the same time without any of them having an experience that is diminished in any way. Information goods are, thus, non-excludable and non-rivalrous. Information, therefore, is a public good. Economists argue that the market oﬀers insuﬃcient beneﬁts for individuals and organizations to be creative, giving rise to a need for Intellectual Property Rights such as copyrights (Landes and Posner 1989). Copyright law is an intellectual property right such...
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