‘Data Needs for Assessing the Function of Copyright’ & Responses by Economists from OHIM, EC, UKIPO & WIPO

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Data Needs for Assessing the Function of Copyright

Speaker: Joel Waldfogel (University of Minnesota)

Responding: Nathan Wajsman (OHIM), Kamil Kiljanski (European Commission DG Internal Market and Industry), Pippa Hall (UK Intellectual Property Office), Mosahid Khan (WIPO)

Abstract of Waldfogel’s presentation

The purpose of copyright is to provide rewards adequate to induce creators to continue creating new works of value to producers and consumers. Recent technological changes have affected both revenue and costs in copyright-protected industries. Hence, while producers’ revenue is an important indicator, it is alone inadequate for assessing whether copyright is working. Instead, we need to assess the value of the new products created, a task that one should admit at the outset is difficult. Quantifying the number of new works is an important start, but given the skew in products’ appeal, data on the number of works are ideally supplemented with data on the usage of works, both by time and by vintage of creation. In some cases the ideal data exist and are available; in other cases they exist but are expensive. In still other cases the data are proprietary and unavailable to researchers. Hence, researchers must be creative – an open-minded – in data that shed light on the fundamental question of how recent technological changes have affected the operation of the copyright-protected industries. Coordinated efforts to make data available to the research community would be valuable.

Abstract of the Panel Response

Data issues are not unique to copyright. Even where published registers of IP rights exist, they can be out of date, confusing, or lack transparency. Four leading IP Office economists will address key questions about IP rights data which affect not only research but also the way in which these rights fulfil their economic function in real markets.

what data do we need to tell us what the system of rights is doing to the economy?
what data do we need to design and demonstrate better policy?
how to get data into the public domain, or better organised?
what data do we need to make markets work, and how can we convince people that it’s worth doing?

These questions are applicable not just for copyright, but also to other forms of IP, even where we have registers we don’t have usage data to tell us how the system is working or to inform markets.