Recent Trends in the Economics of Copyright

Recent Trends in the Economics of Copyright

Edited by Ruth Towse and Richard Watt

The book is part of an Elgar Publishing series, Recent Trends, and I was commissioned to edit this one on the Economics of Copyright. At the time, I was about to spend time in New Zealand with my friend and colleague from SERCI (Society of Economic Research in Copyright Issues) Richard Watt at the University of Canterbury and it seemed a good opportunity to collaborate, especially as he had recently been involved in a conference on the economics of software, a topic about which I am dreadfully ignorant.

It was a happy collaboration and we decided from the outset to keep the volume to a manageable size, hoping that that would increase its accessibility in terms not only of price (always a problem) but also so that it did not look too daunting. Two items of interest in respect of that: one, it is very difficult to include law contributions in such a book, worthy though they are of inclusion, simply because they are always so incredibly long! Most economics journals limit articles to 6,000 or at most 8,000 words but I don’t think I have ever seen a law journal article that is so short! The second point is perhaps more interesting; these ‘reproduction’ volumes are, according to the publishers, intended as limited editions for libraries and that is the basis on which publishers license to each other. That restricts the publisher from pricing or advertising the volume for individual sale, though they may be purchased by individuals. No doubt this explains why most of these Recent Trends volumes and their like come out in 2, 3 or 4 volumes because the editor does not gain financially (they work on a flat fee) and does not have to make awkward decisions that could offend colleagues if their work is omitted, libraries will probably buy them anyway (at least those in Asia which are the target buyers) and the publisher increases revenues. Economics does explain quite a bit, I think you will agree!

The volume has 5 sections: economic aspects of the copyright term; economics of copying and copyright infringement; issues in copyright administration; copyright and incentives to artists; and copyright and open source. Each section has a brief introduction by the editors with additional reading mentioned and there is an index.