|Title:||Copyright’s Mercantilist Turn: Do We Need More Copyright or Less?|
|Author(s):||Lunney, Glynn S.|
|Citation:||Lunney Jr, G. S. (2012). Copyright’s Mercantilist Turn: Do We Need More Copyright or Less?. Tulane Public Law Research Paper, (12-20).|
|Key Related Studies:|
|About the Data|
|Data Description:||From various second hand sources like Soundscan to see how many new albums ere released and Billboard‘s ―Hot 100‖ for the first week of each month, from 1990 through 2010 so see which songs were popular and on the list and which were covered, to gain an idea of the quality of the song.|
|Data Type:||Secondary data|
|Secondary Data Sources:|
|Data Collection Methods:|
|Data Analysis Methods:|
|Cross Country Study?:||No|
|Government or policy study?:|
|Time Period(s) of Collection:||
Over the last twenty years, arguments for broader copyright have taken an increasingly mercantilist turn. Rather than argue for broader copyright in terms of more or better original works, proponents have begun arguing for broader copyright on the basis of revenue and jobs. Consumer copying is theft or piracy, proponents insist, depriving copyright owners of revenue and destroying jobs. In this article, I review these arguments and show that they are empty. While the Internet and digital technology has made widespread consumer copying a reality, broader copyright can be justified only if this copying has interfered with the creation and dissemination of new original works. But it has not. Using a hand-coded data set examining the number of new artists and cover songs in the top fifty of the Billboard Hot 100 chart in the first week of each month for the years 1990-2010, I show that while music industry revenue has fallen sharply since Napster opened its virtual doors, output in the music industry, both in terms of quantity and quality, has increased just as sharply. Part of the explanation for this seemingly paradoxical result, is that the digital revolution, while it has made consumer copying trivially easily, has also reduced costs, risks, and barriers to entry in the music industry. Yet, this cannot be a complete explanation.
To account for the rest, I offer a theoretical model and a simple explanation for why the incentives for music creation have remained sufficient in the face of widespread consumer copying: Consumers don’t just love music generally; they love their particular favorite artists and their specific favorite songs. While consumers would like to get music for free, they know that they have to support their favorite artists in order to get and to continue getting the music they want. As a result, self-interest tends to ensure that consumers do not free ride too much. While the resulting market is unlikely to be perfect, legislation from Congress is not likely to improve the situation. Just as product markets fail in predictable circumstances, so too do political markets. When, as in the debate over broader copyright, proposed legislation benefits a concentrated interest group, such as copyright owners, at the expense of a dispersed interest group, such as copyright consumers, Congress is systematically likely to get the answer of how much copyright is optimal wrong, and badly wrong at that. In short, we have far more to fear from government intervention in the markets for original works than we do from leaving these markets alone.
Main Results of the Study
The author used Soundscan to see how many albums were released between 1990-2010 and used Billboard's hot 100 to gauge the popularity of these songs and see how many songs were covers in the top 100, this was used as a measure of quality of new songs. The more covers existed the worse the quality of songs ,at that specific time period, were seen to be.
The hypothesis was that if napster caused a decrease in quality of music then there should be more covers in the top 100 and fewer new artists. The author compared pre and post napster charts and found that there was a steady decrease in the amount of covers after napster and that there was little change in new songs on the list, in fact if anything a slight increase after napster. Thu concluding that after napster the quality of songs has actually increasedand the number of new artists has stayed more or less the same.
The author continues with a discussion about SOPA and PIPA which outlines the rationale for them and goes on to argue the rationale is not optimal for welfare. The paper found that in the music industry consumer copying has led to falling revenue, and perhaps reduced employment, for particular copyright industries. According to the author however it does not and cannot justify expanding copyright. Increase copyright protection in an attempt to maximize copyright owner revenue and perhaps, copyright industry employment, will not be optimal for consumer welfare.
Policy Implications as Stated By Author
Authos suggests that SOPA and PIPA would not be a good policy to undertake as it would decrease consumer welfare.