Sprigman, Buccafusco and Burns (2013)
|Sprigman, Buccafusco and Burns (2012)
|What's a name worth?: Experimental tests of the value of attribution in intellectual property
|Sprigman, C. J., Buccafusco, C., Burns, Z. C.
|Buccafusco, C. J., Sprigman, C. J., & Burns, Z. C. (2012). What's a Name Worth?: Experimental Tests of the Value of Attribution in Intellectual Property. Boston University Law Review, 93, 1.
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|About the Data
|The authors performed three separate experiments.
Experiment 1: This experiment tested the value that creators attach to attribution and publication. 200 “lay” creative subjects, who indicated an interest in photography, were recruited as participants using Amazon Mechanical Turk (mTurk). Participants were randomly assigned to one of three conditions: contest, publication or attribution, yielding 198 usable results.
Experiment 2: This experiment tested the value that creators attach to attribution and publication, but using professional and serious amateur creators. 88 participants were recruited using Amazon Mechanical Turk (mTurk). Participants were randomly assigned to one of three conditions: contest, publication or attribution, yielding 77 usable results.
Experiment 3: This experiment explored the economic effects of creating a waivable default attribution right. Participants were recruited using mTurk, by advertising for subjects who were aspiring photographers interested in having their work entered into a contest. They were offered $2 for participating. Participants were randomly assigned to one of two conditions: Default Attribution and No Default Attribution. The authors do not state the number of participants.
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Despite considerable research suggesting that creators value attribution – that is, being named as the creator of a work – U.S. intellectual property (IP) law does not provide a right to attribution to the vast majority of creators. On the other side of the Atlantic, however, many European countries give creators, at least in their copyright laws, much stronger rights to attribution. At first blush it may seem that the U.S. has gotten it wrong, and the Europeans have made a better policy choice in providing to creators a right that they value. But for reasons we will explain in this Article, matters are much more complicated. This Article reports a series of experiments that are the first to attempt to measure quantitatively the value of attribution to creators. In previous research, we have shown that creators of IP are subject to a “creativity effect” that results in their assigning substantially higher value to their works than neoclassical economic theory predicts. The first two experiments reported in this Article suggest a way that the creativity effect may be reduced: creators are willing to sacrifice significant economic payments in favor of receiving attribution for their work. The value to creators of attribution raises the question whether U.S. IP law should be restructured to provide attribution as a creator’s default right. The third and most important experiment reported here casts doubt on the value of giving creators such a default right, because creators value attribution differently depending on whether the legal rule gives it to them as an initial entitlement or not. When creators are given a right to attribution as a default, they value credit four times higher than when attribution is not the default option. Our findings make clear that creators value attribution, and that the prospect of obtaining it can lead to a more efficient level of transacting. At the same time, paradoxically, our findings suggest that we should exercise caution before we restructure U.S. law, which provides no right to attribution for the vast majority of creators. Indeed, it is possible, under conditions that we will describe, that providing creators with a default right to attribution will result in less efficient transacting. Finally, our findings have implications for property theory which are broader than IP law or attribution rights. Our third experiment suggests that a party who enjoys a default legal right as part of her initial complement of rights will tend to treat that legal right in a fashion similar to any other form of initial entitlement, and overvalue it relative to what neoclassical theory would predict. This suggests a principle regarding how to efficiently structure default rules in any setting. All other factors being equal, an efficiently structured default rule will locate the initial legal entitlement in the party who is either less likely to overvalue the entitlement, or, if overvaluation seems inevitable regardless of where the initial entitlement is placed, is likely to overvalue it less.
Main Results of the Study
Main results:*The photographers behaved similarly to the poets and painters in the authors' previous experiments, and set their WTA significantly higher than their expected mean value.*For amateur photographers, the prospect of publication with attribution results in a significantly lower 'Willingness To Accept' (WTA) compared to the WTA reported by subjects in the Contest and Publication conditions pooled together. This finding suggests that the prospect of publication with attribution has a modest but nonetheless statistically significant effect of reducing WTA compared to a situation where subjects are not offered the prospect of publication with attribution.*Given the strong preference for attribution, publication without attribution may be viewed negatively, which would account for the higher average WTA in the Publication condition versus the Contest condition (although this was not significant at the 0.05 confidence level).*The data also suggest that professional and advanced amateur photographers place a somewhat greater value on the prospect of publication with attribution compared with their amateur counterparts. The professional subjects’ WTA in the Attribution condition was lower by a significant amount compared to the Contest subjects’ WTA. This is fairly strong evidence that creators attach some substantial value to credited publication of their work.*The creators’ behavior indicates that they valued attribution at $415.07. The professional and advanced amateur photographers value attribution far more than the casual snapshooters.*In the third experiment, subjects altered the amount of money they were willing to accept in ways that were consistent with placing a significant economic value on attribution.*This study suggests that a waivable default attribution rule could have a significant – and negative – effect on the efficiency of markets to license IP.*When the subjects were initially endowed with a right to attribution, they valued it substantially more than they did when they were not so endowed and had to purchase it. In the study, subjects valued attribution four times higher under the Default Attribution condition than when the default was no attribution.
Policy Implications as Stated By Author
Policy implications:*The authors' experiments provide the first quantitative measure of the monetary value that creators attach to attribution and publication opportunities. The experiments provide new data that can help shape the debate about the desirability of attribution rights in the U.S. and abroad.*These experiments indicate that, all else being equal, altering U.S. copyright law to provide creators with default attribution rights can result in higher transaction costs and less efficient transacting.*U.S. copyright law, which provides creators of a wide variety of artistic and literary works with broad rights to control reproduction, distribution, modification, and the public performance and display of their works, does not provide most creators with any general right to attribution. This research provides quantitative empirical evidence for the notion that creators significantly value attribution.*It does not necessarily follow that the U.S. should include a right to attribution in the law simply because creators value it. From a utilitarian perspective, attribution, just like any other aspect of IP rights, should be assigned in such a way that it is likely to reduce transaction costs and generate efficient bargains. *In light of the findings of the third experiment, the research seems to undermine utilitarian arguments for creating a waivable attribution right.
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