Reading list: measuring the impact of user rights


International and domestic
copyright law reform around the world is increasingly focused on how copyright
user rights should be expanded to promote maximum creativity and access to
knowledge in the digital age. These efforts are guided by a relatively rich
theoretical literature. However, few empirical studies explore the social and
economic impact of expanding user rights in the digital era. One reason for
this gap has been the absence of a tool measuring the key independent variable
– changes in copyright user rights over time and between countries. We
developed such a tool, which we call the “User Rights Database.” This paper
describes the methodology used to create the Database and the results of
empirical tests using it. We find that all of the countries in our study are
trending toward more open copyright user rights over time, but the wealthy
countries in our sample are about thirty years ahead of developing countries on
this measure. We find evidence of benefits that more open copyright user rights
generate, including the development of high technology industries and scholarly
publication. We do not find evidence that opening user rights causes harm to
revenue the of copyright intensive industries like publishing and
entertainment. We have released all of the data gathered in this project to the
public under an open license to enable its use by other researchers. Our
empirical findings are relevant to several major arguments for or against
expansions of copyright user rights that one hears frequently in reform

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