|Title:||Copyright and Contract Law: Economic Theory of Copyright Contracts|
|Citation:||Watt, R. (2010). Copyright and Contract Law: Economic Theory of Copyright Contracts. J. Intell. Prop. L., 18, 173.|
|Link(s):||Definitive , Open Access|
|Key Related Studies:|
|Linked by:||Pollock (2009)|
|About the Data|
|Data Description:||This is a theory driven paper: there is no empirical data to describe.|
|Secondary Data Sources:|
|Data Collection Methods:|
|Data Analysis Methods:|
|Cross Country Study?:||No|
|Government or policy study?:||No|
|Time Period(s) of Collection:||
The economic theory of copyright is now well advanced and has covered many issues related to the grant of copyright and the supply and consumption of copyrighted goods. However, a very important aspect of the value chain has been largely ignored-the fact that between creation and consumption, many contracts are likely to be involved, and copyright will, logically, have effects upon the way those contracts are written and interpreted. It is interesting that economists themselves have not put the issue of contracts into the forefront of the economics of copyright, since certainly the study of contracts and the incentives that they create is of primordial interest to economists generally.
This Article reviews the scant economics literature that does deal with the relationships between the legal institution of copyright and the contracts that are then written along the value chain. It is to be emphasised that this Article only deals with the economic theory literature, and does not consider the legal literature. The principal objective is to clearly identify the research gaps that exist, and to gain some perspective on the question of how these gaps might be prioritised in terms of importance or urgency.
Main Results of the Study
Main research gaps identified by the study:
- The economic theory profession has not considered in any detail the relationship between the legal institution of copyright and the types of contracts that are written along the value chain for copyrighted goods.
- The topic of contracts has been looked at mainly in terms of royalty contracts, and then only really between creators and intermediaries (e.g., publishers, distributors, etc.)
- An important research gap is to consider exactly how alterations in copyright protection (either some measure of enforcement, or perhaps some measure of scope, or of course the duration of copyright) would affect the terms that would be agreed to via royalty contracts.
- The question of exactly how certain changes in copyright would end up affecting the welfare of the signatories to royalty contracts, thereby altering the balance of revenue flows and incentives, is of great interest.
- Another important research gap would involve the explicit consideration of the perceived "fairness" of copyright contracts to the parties involved, and how (or indeed if) copyright law can be altered so as to ameliorate any perceived
- It would be useful to consider whether copyright and contracts are always to be understood as complements, or whether they can also maintain a substitute relationship: contracts can work as devices that substitute for copyright law, at
least as far as the signatories to the contract are concerned.
- The author suggests we should consider the nature of the substitute-complement relationship between copyright and contracts, and above all, to determine what the nature of the relationship depends upon (with transactions costs being the most logical element).
- The issue of the study of the interrelationship between the contract space and the contracts that are written within it, and copyright law's parameters and interpretations, would also be a useful research gap to explore.
- A more careful, methodological, and formal application of the principal-agent framework to the specific case of copyright constitutes the most logical first step forward for economists.
Policy Implications as Stated By Author
Once a clear idea has been achieved of the type of substitute-complement relationship between copyright and contracts that exists, at least for specific points along the value chain, then one can determine with much more authority the type of policy conclusion that is suggestive of how copyright law might be amended to provide the incentives for individuals to use contract terms as protection measures instead.