Effects of Copyrights on Science - Evidence from the Wwii Book Republication Program

Barbara Biasi (Stanford University)
Petra Moser (NYU)

Abstract : This paper examines the effects of copyrights on science, through copyrights’ impact on the price of knowledge. In 1942, the American Book Republication Program (BRP) allowed US publishers to reprint exact copies of German-owned science books, leading to a 25-percent decline in the price of BRP books. Two alternative identification strategies indicate that this decline in price raised the number of new scientific articles and books that build on BRP books. A comparison across fields indicates that benefits of lower access costs were particularly strong for mathematics, a field in which knowledge production is more intensive in human than in physical capital. Library data also show that the BRP enabled more and poorer libraries to buy BRP books and make them available to a broader set of scientists across the American West, Midwest, and South. Citations data also reveal a disproportionate increase in citations for locations that are near libraries with BRP books. Two alternative measures of scientific output – changes in the number of new PhDs theses in mathematics and changes in the number of US patents that use BRP knowledge – confirm the main results.

The Production of Information in an Online World: is Copy Right?

Julia Cagé (Sciences Po Paris)
Nicolas Hervé (Institut National de l'Audiovisuel)
Marie-Luce Viaud (Institut National de l'Audiovisuel)

Abstract : This paper documents the extent of online copyright infringement. We build a unique dataset combining all the online content produced by the universe of news media (newspaper, television, radio, pure online media, and a news agency) in France during year 2013 with new micro audience data. We develop a topic detection algorithm that identifies each news event, trace the timeline of each story and study news propagation. We show that one fourth of the news stories are reproduced online in less than 4 minutes. High reactivity comes with verbatim copying and media hardly name the outlets they copy. We find that only 32.6% of the online content is original, but that original content represents between 46 and 57.8% of total news consumption. The negative impact of copyright violations on newsgathering incentives might indeed be counterbalanced by reputation effects. Using article-level variations (with story and media fixed effects), we show that a 50 percentage point increase in the originality rate of an article leads to a 35% increase in the number of times it is shared on Facebook.

The Private Impact of Public Maps: Landsat Satellite Imagery and Gold Exploration

Abhishek Nagaraj (UC Berkeley-Haas)

Abstract : Governments routinely invest in large-scale, scientific projects that provide basic knowledge about natural phenomena and yet the economic-value of these initiatives remains unexamined. To make progress on this topic, this study estimates the impact of Landsat, a NASA satellite-mapping program, on shaping the discovery of new deposits in the gold exploration industry. Exploiting idiosyncratic timing variation in mapping coverage, I find that information from Landsat nearly doubled the rate of significant gold discoveries, especially from junior firms and in regions with strong local institutions. The public provision of basic knowledge seems to be an important determinant of local industry performance.