Oliar and Sprigman (2009)

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

Oliar and Sprigman (2009)
Title: There's No Free Laugh (Anymore): The Emergence of Intellectual Property Norms and the Transformation of Stand-Up Comedy
Author(s): Oliar, D., Sprigman, C.
Year: 2009
Citation: Oliar, D., & Sprigman, C. (2008). There's No Free Laugh (Anymore): The Emergence of Intellectual Property Norms and the Transformation of Stand-Up Comedy. Virginia Law Review, 1787-1867.
Link(s): Definitive , Open Access
Key Related Studies:
Discipline:
Linked by: Sprigman (2017)
About the Data
Data Description: Data were collected through a series of interviews to comedians.
Data Type: Primary 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):

Abstract

In this paper, we analyze how stand-up comedians protect their jokes using a system of social norms. Intellectual property law has never protected comedians effectively against theft. Initially, jokes were virtually in the public domain, and comedians invested little in creating new ones. In the last half century, however, comedians have developed a system of IP norms. This system serves as a stand-in for formal law. It regulates issues such as authorship, ownership, transfer of rights, exceptions to informal ownership claims and the imposition of sanctions on norms violators. Under the norms system, the level of investment in original material has increased substantially. We detail these norms, which often diverge from copyright law's defaults. Our description is based on interviews with comedians, snippets of which we include throughout the paper.

Our study has implications for intellectual property theory and policy. First, its suggests that the lack of legal protection for intellectual labor does not entail a market failure by necessity, as social norms may induce creativity. Second, it suggests that the rules governing a particular creative practice affect not only how much material is created, but also its kind. Third, we suggest that comedians' IP norms system emerged over the past half century as technological change increased the benefit of having property rights in jokes and concomitantly reduced the costs of enforcing those rights. Fourth, we note that stand-up's norms system recognizes only a limited set of forms of ownership and transfer. We suggest that the system's crude rights structure is driven by the fact that effective enforcement requires that ownership be clear to the community. Lastly, social norms offer a way to regulate creative practices that do not sit well within IP law's one-size-fits-all mold. They do so, moreover, without imposing on society the costs of disuniformity in the formal law, including legal complexity and industry-driven lobbying.

Stand-up's norms system has both benefits and costs, which we detail in the paper. However, norms-based IP systems offer an alternative (or supplementary) cost/benefit bundle which in some cases may be superior to that of formal law alone. In stand-up's case, norms economize on enforcement costs and appear to maintain a healthy level of incentives to create alongside a greater diversity in the kinds of humor produced. A final assessment of stand-up's social norms system awaits further work. With what we currently know, we are cautiously optimistic.

Main Results of the Study

  1. Lack of legal protection for intellectual labor does not entail a market failure by necessity, as social norms may induce creativity.
  2. The rules governing a particular creative practice affect not only how much material is created, but also its kind.
  3. Comedians' IP norms system emerged over the past half century as technological change increased the benefit of having property rights in jokes and concomitantly reduced the costs of enforcing those rights.
  4. Stand-up's norms system recognizes only a limited set of forms of ownership and transfer, driven by the fact that effective enforcement requires that ownership be clear to the community.
  5. Social norms offer a way to regulate creative practices that do not sit well within IP law's one-size-fits-all mold, without imposing on society the costs of disuniformity in the formal law, including legal complexity and industry-driven lobbying.


Policy Implications as Stated By Author

Copyright does not provide adequate protection for all forms of creative expression and thus is not always necessary. Evolving social norms can more effectively regulate creative output in certain communities especially as regulation has a role in shaping creative output.

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)?
Green-tick.png
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)
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)
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)
Green-tick.png
Enforcement (quantifying infringement; criminal sanctions; intermediary liability; graduated response; litigation and court data; commercial/non-commercial distinction; education and awareness)
Green-tick.png

Datasets

Sample size: 3
Level of aggregation: Individual
Period of material under study: 2006