|Title:||How Digitization Has Created a Golden Age of Music, Movies, Books, and Television|
|Citation:||Waldfogel, J. (2017) How Digitization Has Created a Golden Age of Music, Movies, Books, and Television. Journal of Economic Perspectives, 31(3)|
|Key Related Studies:|
|About the Data|
|Data Description:||The study mainly draws upon secondary data sources from previous studies by the author, and aggregation databases relating to music, movies, books and TV quality and revenue streams.|
|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:|
“Digitization is disrupting a number of copyright-protected media industries, including books, music, radio, television, and movies. Once information is transformed into digital form, it can be copied and distributed at near-zero marginal costs. This change has facilitated piracy in some industries, which in turn has made it difficult for commercial sellers to continue generating the same levels of revenue for bringing products to market in the traditional ways. Yet despite the sharp revenue reductions for recorded music, as well as threats to revenue in some other traditional media industries, other aspects of digitization have had the offsetting effects of reducing the costs of bringing new products to market in music, movies, books, and television. On balance, digitization has increased the number of new products that are created and made available to consumers. Moreover, given the unpredictable nature of product quality, growth in new products has given rise to substantial increases in the quality of the best products. Although there were concerns that consumer welfare from media products would fall, the opposite scenario has emerged—a golden age for consumers who wish to consume media products.”
Main Results of the Study
• The number of new products created in the music, film, TV and book industry has grown substantially since digitization. Further, more independent, previously untenable works (such as e.g. rejected manuscripts, story pitches etc.) are also more valued and purchased post-digitization through the accessibility and affordability of e.g. self-publication. Such works would previously have been unavailable to consumers.
• The quality of new works has also improved since digitisation. Based on viewer reviews on IMDb, the quality of film and TV published post-digitisation is higher than those pre-digitisation. The study concludes that the addition of previously untenable works does not simply result in more choices with less quality, but rather it has an unpredictable effect that may benefit the welfare of consumers.
Policy Implications as Stated By Author
The study recommends that policy responses to digitisation should not focus solely on tackling piracy. Instead, the study encourages a more holistic approach to evaluating whether copyright is fulfilling its function, including rates of production of new content, which may be a more accurate metric.
Coverage of Study