Copyright Evidence Wiki July 2019 Round-Up

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This is part of a series of summary posts rounding-up new entries to the Copyright Evidence Wiki (organised thematically). As part of CREATe’s workstream for the AHRC Creative Industries Policy and Evidence Centre, the Wiki catalogues empirical studies on copyright. This month, we summarise new featured studies on: Piracy, Copyright and Libraries, and Fair Remuneration.

Piracy

Through a survey of undergraduate students in Asian countries, Domon, Melcarne and Ramello (2019) find that ethical standards and social norms have a greater influence on piracy behaviours than legal frameworks. Countries such as Japan and Korea may have similar copyright systems, yet consumer behaviours diverge greatly between them; particularly in Japan, consumers are least likely to use P2P, and correspondingly feel the most guilt when engaging in such behaviours, in stark contrast to Korea. As such, “one size fits all” approaches to tackling piracy may be ineffective, and policy-makers may be better advised to tailor country-specific actions.

A series of studies by Ibosiola et al. (2018) (2019a) (2019b) offer a view of copyright enforcement via computer science. In particular, the 2019 studies on DMCA notices highlight how complainants and website hosts are increasingly engaging in “cat and mouse” behaviour, with automated and bulk complaints being met with replica websites, multiple domain names and “unblocking” websites. Each study consistently finds that the majority of takedown notices are issued by a small number of aggressive enforcers, usually large content producers (e.g. Fox, Walt Disney) or third-party anti-piracy companies (e.g. Rivendell). For a comprehensive study of empirical literature on copyright, notice-and-takedown and intermediary liability, see recent work by Erickson and Kretschmer (2019).

Copyright and Libraries

Recent work by Giblin et al. (2019) finds that whilst e-book availability is overall “better than anticipated”, libraries nonetheless still experience difficulty in accessing titles due to variations in licensing terms from e-lenders. Particularly, the increase in usage of time-limited licences may disincentivise libraries from obtaining lower-demand or older titles, which are less likely to benefit from a metered availability due to smaller readership. The study suggests that multiple licensing options may increase e-book accessibility, though only 6 of the 546 titles surveyed permitted this.

Alongside earlier studies including Morrison and Secker (2017) and Benson (2018), a new study by Benson and Stitzlein (2019) confirms that librarians experience high uncertainty regarding basic copyright principles and digitisation efforts. Nearly half of the interviewees in this study confirmed that copyright determinations are the biggest challenge for materials to be made available online. As such, strong copyright education remains essential in the cultural heritage sector.

Fair Remuneration

We have added a tranche of new studies on fair remuneration which can be accessed via the NEW studies page. Highlights include the Authors’ Earnings and Contracts survey by Kretschmer, Gavaldon, Miettinen and Singh (2019) which, amongst other findings, demonstrates a consistent decrease in the earnings of professional authors since previous reports in 2007 and 2015. As authors need to subsidise their earnings in order to make a living wage, the study cautions that writing is at risk of becoming an “elitist profession”, only being affordable by privileged households.

Finally, an interesting discourse analysis of EU Copyright Reform discussions by Aguilar (2019) examines exactly what “fairness” means to different stakeholders. They find that this concept is fragmented amongst stakeholders, and is related to their respective bargaining power; those with the least bargaining power (e.g. lesser-known artists, consumers etc.) tie fairness to an unwaivable, equitable remuneration right, whereas those with higher bargaining power (e.g. record companies, digital service providers etc.) believe that preservation of the status quo represents fairness.

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