Thursday 28th February 2013, 13:00
Speaker: Professor Paul Heald
According to the current copyright statute, in 2018, copyrighted works of music, film, and literature will begin to transition into the public domain. While this will prove a boon for users and creators, it could be disastrous for the owners of these valuable copyrights. Accordingly, the next few years will witness another round of aggressive lobbying by the film, music, and publishing industries to extend the terms of already-existing works. These industries, and a number of prominent scholars, claim that when works enter the public domain bad things will happen to them. They worry that works in the public domain will be underused, overused, or tarnished in ways that will undermine the works’ cultural and economic value. Although the validity of their assertions turn on empirically testable hypotheses, very little effort has been made to study them.
This research attempts to fill that gap by studying the market for audiobook recordings of bestselling novels. Data from our research, including a novel human subjects experiment, suggest that the claims about the public domain are suspect. Our data indicate that audio books made from public domain bestsellers (1913-22) are significantly more available than those made from copyrighted bestsellers (1923-32). In addition, our experimental protocol suggests that professionally made recordings of public domain and copyrighted books are of similar quality. Finally, while a low quality recording seems to lower a listener's valuation of the underlying work, our data do not suggest any correlation between that valuation and legal status of the underlying work. Accordingly, ourresearch indicates that the significant costs of additional copyright protection for already-existing works are not justified by the benefits claimed for it. These findings will be crucially important to the inevitable congressional and judicial debate over copyright term extension in the next few years.
Paul Heald (University of Illinois School of Law) lectures on patent, copyright and international intellectual property law around the world and has previously held visiting positions at universities in London, Lyon, Regensburg and Innsbruck, and at the University of Chicago, University of Texas and Vanderbilt University. He also taught in the UGA/OSU program at St. Anne's College, Oxford University, during the spring of 2009.
Recent publications have focused on economic aspects of IP law, including theoretical papers on optimal patent remedies, the role transaction costs in patent law and the problem of patent pricing as well as empirical studies on best-selling fiction and musical compositions from 1913 to 1932 and the behavior of famous trademarks in product and service markets. He has also written two books on law and literature, and his first novel, No Regrets, was published by St. James Music Press in 2002.
Professor Heald is a Herbert Smith Visiting Fellow at the Faculty during the Lent and Easter terms 2013.
A sandwich lunch will be provided.
Location: Room B16, Faculty of Law