NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Price Discrimination, Copyright Law, and Technological Innovation: Evidence from the Introduction of DVDs

Julie Holland Mortimer

NBER Working Paper No. 11676
Issued in October 2005
NBER Program(s):   IO

This paper examines the welfare effects of intellectual property protection, accounting for firms' optimal responses to legal environments and technological innovation. I examine firms' use of indirect price discrimination in response to U.S. copyright law, which effectively prevents direct price discrimination. Using data covering VHS and DVD movie distribution, I explain studios' optimal pricing strategies under U.S. copyright law, and determine optimal pricing strategies under E.U. copyright law, which allows for direct price discrimination. I analyze these optimal pricing strategies for both the existing VHS technology and the new digital DVD technology. I find that studios' use of indirect price discrimination under US copyright law benefits consumers and harms retailers. Optimal pricing under E.U. copyright law also tends to benefit studios and consumers. I also reanalyze these issues assuming continued DVD adoption.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w11676

Published: Mortimer, Julie Holland. "Price Discrimination, Copyright Law, and Technological Innovation: Evidence from the Introduction of DVDs." Quarterly Journal of Economics 122, 3 (August 2007): 1307-50. citation courtesy of

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