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The Economics of the Digital Society

Edited by Luc Soete and Bas ter Weel

This important book presents a unique body of research into the economics of the digital society. It questions how modern economies have been transformed as a result of digital goods and markets, and explores the policy implications and challenges of this revolution.
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Chapter 9: Some economics of digital content

Wilfred Dolfsma


* 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 as patent law and trademark law. Copyright...

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