Lunney, Jr. (2014)
|Lunney, Jr. (2014)|
|Title:||Empirical Copyright: A Case Study of File Sharing and Music Output|
|Author(s):||Lunney, Jr. G. S.|
|Citation:||Lunney Jr, G. S. (2014). Empirical Copyright: A Case Study of File Sharing and Music Output. Tulane Public Law Research Paper, (14-2).|
|Key Related Studies:|
|About the Data|
|Data Description:||The author created a hand-coded data set identifying each new artist and each new song that appeared in the top fifty of the Billboard Hot 100 during the first week of each month from 1985 through 2013.|
|Data Type:||Secondary data|
|Secondary Data Sources:|
|Data Collection Methods:|
|Data Analysis Methods:|
|Cross Country Study?:||No|
|Government or policy study?:||No|
|Time Period(s) of Collection:||
From a utilitarian perspective, devising an optimal copyright regime requires a simple balancing of copyright’s benefits against its costs in order to maximize the resulting social welfare. While simple in theory, this balance has proven surprisingly difficult to achieve in practice. In part, this difficulty arises because the data available is inevitably limited, and often observational, and so the conclusions are fraught with ambiguity and uncertainty. In part, it arises because there are vested political interests that do not want an optimal copyright regime. Rather, they seek a copyright regime that maximizes their own welfare, whatever that may be. As a result, whatever data is available, and whatever uncertainty or ambiguity remains, they will twist in order to ensure that copyright serves them, rather than society as a whole. Whether due to the first problem or the second, there are also surprisingly few empirical studies of the costs and benefits associated with broadening or narrowing copyright. This study aims to help fill that gap by examining how file sharing has affected the creation and dissemination of new original music.
Main Results of the Study
In this paper, empirical evidence shows that file sharing did not reduce the creation of new hit songs. Even if we assume that file sharing caused the decline in record sales which paralleled file sharing’s rise, the decline in record sales had two effects relevant to the creation of new music. First, it shifted output along the music-other margin and led to fewer new artists, as some individuals, given the lower returns available in music, decided to devote their time and creativity elsewhere. Second, it shifted output along the work-leisure margin and led to more new music from existing artists, as the lower returns led existing artists to substitute work for leisure. Because the second marginal effect outweighed the first, file sharing, even assuming that it caused the decline in record sales, led to the creation, on balance, of more new hit songs.
Policy Implications as Stated By Author
Given that file sharing advances copyright’s purported objectives, there would seem to be only one reasonable answer as to whether file sharing, at least with respect to music, should be legal under copyright law.
Coverage of Study
|Level of aggregation:||Songs|
|Period of material under study:||1985-2013|