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October 14, 2005

New From The National Bureau of Economic Research

Price Discrimination, Copyright Law, and Technological Innovation: Evidence from the Introduction of DVDs

by Julie Holland Mortimer  -  #11676 (IO)


This paper examines the welfare effects of intellectual property protection, accounting for firms' optimal responses to legal environments and technological innovation. I examine firms' use of indirect price discrimination in response to U.S. copyright law, which effectively prevents direct price discrimination. Using data covering VHS and DVD movie distribution, I explain studios' optimal pricing strategies under U.S. copyright law, and determine optimal pricing strategies under E.U. copyright law, which allows for direct price discrimination. I analyze these optimal pricing strategies for both the existing VHS technology and the new digital DVD technology. I find that studios' use of indirect price discrimination under US copyright law benefits consumers and harms retailers. Optimal pricing under E.U. copyright law also tends to benefit studios and consumers. I also reanalyze these issues assuming continued DVD adoption.

The paper is available at http://papers.nber.org/papers/W11676.

October 14, 2005 | Permalink


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