Heald, Erickson and Kretschmer (2015)

From Copyright EVIDENCE

Advertising Architectural Publishing of books, periodicals and other publishing Programming and broadcasting Computer programming Computer consultancy Creative, arts and entertainment Cultural education

Film and motion pictures Sound recording and music publishing Photographic activities PR and communication Software publishing (including video games) Specialised design Television programmes Translation and interpretation

1. Relationship between protection (subject matter/term/scope) and supply/economic development/growth/welfare 2. Relationship between creative process and protection - what motivates creators (e.g. attribution; control; remuneration; time allocation)? 3. Harmony of interest assumption between authors and publishers (creators and producers/investors) 4. Effects of protection on industry structure (e.g. oligopolies; competition; economics of superstars; business models; technology adoption) 5. Understanding consumption/use (e.g. determinants of unlawful behaviour; user-generated content; social media)

A. Nature and Scope of exclusive rights (hyperlinking/browsing; reproduction right) B. Exceptions (distinguish innovation and public policy purposes; open-ended/closed list; commercial/non-commercial distinction) C. Mass digitisation/orphan works (non-use; extended collective licensing) D. Licensing and Business models (collecting societies; meta data; exchanges/hubs; windowing; crossborder availability) E. Fair remuneration (levies; copyright contracts) F. Enforcement (quantifying infringement; criminal sanctions; intermediary liability; graduated response; litigation and court data; commercial/non-commercial distinction; education and awareness)

Source Details

Heald, Erickson and Kretschmer (2015)
Title: The Valuation of Unprotected Works: A Case Study of Public Domain Photographs on Wikipedia
Author(s): Heald, P. J., Erickson, K., Kretschmer, M.
Year: 2015
Citation: Heald, P. J., Kretschmer, M., & Erickson, K. (2015). The Valuation of Unprotected Works: A Case Study of Public Domain Photographs on Wikipedia. Available at SSRN.
Link(s): Open Access
Key Related Studies:
Discipline:
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About the Data
Data Description: Foundational empirical data is taken from several sources including previous Heald, Buccafusco and Heald, and Smith, Telang and Zhang articles.

One primary source dataset included 362 authors who had had at least one bestseller on the New York Times bestseller’s list from 1895 to 1969. Data was collected on the birth and death of each author in an attempt to determine whether the author’s age had impact on whether a public domain image of the author was available. The same information was collected for 792 composers and lyricists.

In addition, the Wikipedia random page search function was used to generate a list of 300 web pages in order to estimate image use and traffic on Wikipedia as a whole for the purposes of extrapolating the findings from the research on the author, composer, and lyricist web pages.

Data Type: Primary and Secondary data
Secondary Data Sources:
Data Collection Methods:
Data Analysis Methods:
Industry(ies):
Country(ies):
Cross Country Study?: No
Comparative Study?: No
Literature review?: No
Government or policy study?: No
Time Period(s) of Collection:
  • Not stated
Funder(s):
  • Not stated

Abstract

What is the value of works in the public domain? We study the biographical Wikipedia pages of a large data set of authors, composers, and lyricists to determine whether the public domain status of available images leads to a higher rate of inclusion of illustrated supplementary material and whether such inclusion increases visitorship to individual pages. We attempt to objectively place a value on the body of public domain photographs and illustrations which are used in this global resource. We find that the most historically remote subjects are more likely to have images on their web pages because their biographical life-spans pre-date the existence of in-copyright imagery. We find that the large majority of photos and illustrations used on subject pages were obtained from the public domain, and we estimate their value in terms of costs saved to Wikipedia page builders and in terms of increased traffic corresponding to the inclusion of an image. Then, extrapolating from the characteristics of a random sample of a further 300 Wikipedia pages, we estimate a total value of public domain photographs on Wikipedia of between $246 to $270 million dollars per year.

Main Results of the Study

  • The reservoir of free public domain works increases the likelihood that an author web page will contain an image. The earlier the author’s birth date, the more likely a searcher will find an image of that author on his or her Wikipedia page. Only half of the 112 authors born after 1910 have images on Wikipedia pages.
  • 66% of the author Wikipedia pages sampled contained images of the author, and 79% of those images were in the public domain.
  • Public domain photos on Wikipedia clearly increase net social welfare under either a cost-savings measure ($208-$232 million) or a traffic-increasing measure ($38 million), figures which should be aggregated to better estimate a net value for the images.


Policy Implications as Stated By Author

  • Evidence-based policymaking should influence any future changes in copyright law.
  • The study suggests that massive social harm was done by the most recent copyright term extension that has prevented millions of works from falling into the public domain since 1998.



Coverage of Study

Coverage of Fundamental Issues
Issue Included within Study
Relationship between protection (subject matter/term/scope) and supply/economic development/growth/welfare
Green-tick.png
Relationship between creative process and protection - what motivates creators (e.g. attribution; control; remuneration; time allocation)?
Harmony of interest assumption between authors and publishers (creators and producers/investors)
Effects of protection on industry structure (e.g. oligopolies; competition; economics of superstars; business models; technology adoption)
Green-tick.png
Understanding consumption/use (e.g. determinants of unlawful behaviour; user-generated content; social media)
Coverage of Evidence Based Policies
Issue Included within Study
Nature and Scope of exclusive rights (hyperlinking/browsing; reproduction right)
Green-tick.png
Exceptions (distinguish innovation and public policy purposes; open-ended/closed list; commercial/non-commercial distinction)
Mass digitisation/orphan works (non-use; extended collective licensing)
Licensing and Business models (collecting societies; meta data; exchanges/hubs; windowing; crossborder availability)
Fair remuneration (levies; copyright contracts)
Enforcement (quantifying infringement; criminal sanctions; intermediary liability; graduated response; litigation and court data; commercial/non-commercial distinction; education and awareness)

Datasets

Sample size: 362
Level of aggregation: authors
Period of material under study: Not stated


Sample size: 792
Level of aggregation: composers and lyricists
Period of material under study: Not stated


Sample size: 300
Level of aggregation: Wikipedia webpages
Period of material under study: Not stated