Copyright actually keeps many books off the market, study says

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We have incredibly restrictive copyright laws in this country. Big media companies have made the media marketplace worse for the public with these laws and may have even worked against their own interests by lobbying for overly restrictive copyrights according to a new study.


Meanwhile, copyright lobbyists “argue — without empirical support — that bad things happen to the work when it falls into the public domain. The public interest, so the story goes, requires term extension to prevent a public domain calamity.”

Those lobbyists pin their arguments on theories that make no economic sense: essentially, that the market for media products like books, films, and music needs to be a monopoly in order to function. If anybody can market a given novel or film, they argue, then too many people will produce copies, driving down the price. But as Heald notes, despite “potential competition, exploitation will occur, just as it does in other markets where no one has a monopoly over the object of exploitation, e.g. the markets for string, milk, and pencils.” And none of those things, it should be noted, are protected with exclusive sale rights for¬†any¬†amount of time, much less for decades-long stretches.

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