Garcia and McCrary (2019)
|Garcia and McCrary (2019)|
|Title:||A Reconsideration of Copyright’s Term|
|Author(s):||Garcia, K., McCrary, J.|
|Citation:||Garcia, K. and McCrary, J. (2019) A Reconsideration of Copyright’s Term. Alabama Law Review, 71(2)|
|Key Related Studies:|
|Linked by:||Garcia, Hicks and McCrary (2020), Intellectual Property Office (2018)|
|About the Data|
|Data Description:||Data were obtained from a database detailing commercial music sales. The study uses a sample of 1,200 albums released between 2008 and 2017, gathering data on units sold, both physical and digital, and stream counts (in regards the latter only data between 2016-2017 was gathered). Thereafter, a random sample of 120 albums from the initial dataset were stratified per year between 2008 and 2017. The study uses Poisson regression to analyse the count data.|
|Data Type:||Primary and Secondary data|
|Secondary Data Sources:|
|Data Collection Methods:|
|Data Analysis Methods:|
|Cross Country Study?:||Yes|
|Government or policy study?:||No|
|Time Period(s) of Collection:||
“For well over a century, legislators, courts, lawyers, and scholars have spent significant time and energy debating the optimal duration of copyright protection. While there is general consensus that copyright’s term is of legal and economic significance, arguments both for and against a lengthy term are often impressionistic. Utilizing music industry sales data not previously available for academic analysis, this article fills an important evidentiary gap in the literature. Using recorded music as a case study, we determine that most copyrighted music earns the majority of its lifetime revenue in the first 5-10 years following its initial release (and in many cases, far sooner than that).
Our analysis suggests at least two results of interest to legislators, lawyers, and scholars alike: First, it contributes to the normative debate around copyright’s incentive-access paradigm by proposing a more efficient conception of copyright’s term for information goods; namely, one that replaces the conventional “life plus” durational standard with one based on the commercial viability of the average work. Second, it demonstrates that advocates’ and legislators’ tendency to focus on atypical works leads to overprotection of the average work, suggesting that copyright’s term is not nearly as significant for copyright owners as conventional wisdom submits.”
Main Results of the Study
The study finds that sales of albums and songs fall rapidly after their initial release. After two months, an album will lose approx. one third of its initial song sales volume. This falls to half of its initial peak after four months. By the end of the first year of release, sales fall to approx 20% of their initial volume. Looking further ahead, for entire albums, sales become almost non-existent after one year.
The study also takes account of streamed songs and finds that, overall, songs are streamed far more often than they are purchased. Further, the dramatic fall in sales is less obvious for streamed content. Whilst this may prolong the commercial viability of the average album, the study cautions that due to the low reimbursement rates of streaming it is unclear to what degree this economically benefits the rightsholder.
Policy Implications as Stated By Author
The study suggests that the current duration of copyright is excessive for music. Instead, the optimal duration for protection of music is somewhere between five to ten years. This configuration ensures the creator benefits from protection when they are most likely to benefit from the work (early on in its release), whilst also lessening that protection when it becomes less burdensome to the author.
Coverage of Study
|Level of aggregation:||Albums|
|Period of material under study:||2008-2017|