Dead Poet's Property - How Does Copyright Influence Price?
This article exploits a differential increase in copyright under the UK Copyright Act of 1814 - in favor of books by dead authors – to examine the influence of longer copyrights on price. Difference-in-differences analyses, which compare changes in the price of books by dead and living authors, indicate a substantial increase in price in response to an extension in copyright length. By comparison, placebo regressions for books by dead authors that did not benefit from the extension indicate no differential increase. Historical evidence suggests that longer copyrights increase price by improving publishers’ ability to practice intertemporal price discrimination.
We thank seminar participants at Berkeley, Chicago Economics and Booth, Columbia, Harvard Economics and HBS, KAIST, Michigan, Northwestern Economics and Kellogg, the NBER, Rutgers, Stanford, and Yale, as well as Ashish Arora, Kyle Bagwell, Tim Bresnahan, Bronwyn Hall, Paul Goldstein, Paul Heald, Scott Hemphill, Eric Hilt, Ryan Lampe, Paul Rhode, Lars Stole, Sotaro Shibayama, Joel Watson, Gavin Wright, Yiqing Xing, and Noam Yuchtman for helpful comments. Siyeona Chang, T.J. Hanes, and Ethan Shibutani provided excellent research assistance. We are also grateful for financial support through Stanford’s Second-Year Graduate Research Program, the NBER Program on the Economics of Copyright and Digitization, and the Kauffman Foundation. Moser gratefully acknowledges financial support from the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences (CASBS) and NSF CAREER Grant 1151180. The views expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Bureau of Economic Research.