Cumulative innovation and re-use under copyright
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This dissertation explores (i) the effect of copyright on the reuse of prior works, (ii) the economic effects of reuse upon the original work, (iii) the impact of litigation and copyright assertions on patterns of reuse, and (iv) the effect of the expiry of copyright on the availability and supply of music through differing models of distribution. As a setting to explore these questions, I focus on the popular music industry and the phenomena of "digital sampling," where prior sound recordings are reused to create a new musical arrangement. This setting allows one to empirically track the use and reuse of information goods over time in a process of cumulative creativity, where new works of authorship build upon past works. The statistical results of this dissertation imply that copyright policy has con- strained cumulative creativity, even while reuse in this setting does not appear to cause economic harm upon original works, as reusing works do not empirically substitute for the originals upon which they are based. Rights assertions by copyright aggregators, however, does not appear to stifle reuse when the portfolios of rights aggregators are compared to other similar songs. The last set of results focus on copyright’s reuse through the re-releases of music, demonstrating that copyright expiration causes a dramatic increase in the supply of music, but these restrictions imposed by copyright appear to be mediated by new models for digital distribution of content and associated blanket licensing practices.