Barbara Biasi, Petra Moser, 26 May 2018

Copyrights grant publishers exclusive rights to content for almost a century. In science, this can involve substantial social costs by limiting who can access existing research. This column uses a unique WWII-era programme in the US, which allowed US publishers to reprint exact copies of German-owned science books, to explore how copyrights affect follow-on science. This artificial removal of copyright barriers led to a 25% decline in prices, and a 67% increase in citations. These results suggest that restrictive copyright policies slow down the progress of science considerably.

Iain Cockburn, Jean Lanjouw, Mark Schankerman, 22 November 2014

Patented pharmaceuticals diffuse across international borders slowly, and sometimes not at all. This column analyses the effect of patent protection and price regulation on the speed of and extent to which drugs enter new markets. There is a fundamental tradeoff between affordability – taking the form of low patent protection and strong price regulation – and rate of entry into a national market.

Masayuki Morikawa, 20 July 2014

Innovation is a key driver of productivity growth, but innovation in the service sector has received relatively little attention. This column shows that the total factor productivity gap between Japanese firms with and without innovations is larger in services than in manufacturing. Whereas the percentage of firms holding patents is much higher in manufacturing than in services, trade secrets are just as important in both sectors. These results suggest that the protection of trade secrets makes an important contribution to productivity growth.

Joel Waldfogel, 14 November 2011

Napster – the first peer-to-peer file sharing service – changed the music industry forever. Many people now download music without paying, often illegally. This column looks at the effect on the music industry, in particular what it means for the quality of new recorded music.

Neil Gandal, 15 September 2011

The open source software-development model gives free access to a software’s source code, allowing further users to modify and extend the program. This column argues that the success of Wikipedia and other users of open source methods show that it is likely to continue to be a cornerstone of the digital economy.

Bronwyn Hall, Christian Helmers, 24 October 2010

Technology is often hailed as one of the best tools to ease the challenge of coordinating a global climate policy. This column examines existing evidence on the role of intellectual property rights in the development and transfer of green technologies, calling for much more research in this area.

Joel Waldfogel, 29 January 2010

Joel Waldfogel of the University of Minnesota talks to Romesh Vaitilingam about the economics of digital media, including: music file sharing (both illegal and legal) and the impact on artists and record labels; the threat that intellectual property piracy poses to the movie business; and the future of books and newspapers in the digital age. The interview was recorded in London in December 2009.

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