The economic impact of consumer copyright exceptions: A literature review

Published: 30 November 2010

Republished in February 2013 with minor amends and formatting changes

Consumer Focus commissioned this independent review of the existing economic literature on the economic impact of fair use rights to inform our policy work on copyright. The review focused on copyright exceptions for consumers for activities such as time-shifting, format-shifting, back-up copies, parody and user-generated content. The review did not consider the sharing of copyrighted content through peer-to-peer filesharing networks.

The review found that there is no existing evidence to support the argument that activities such as format-shifting (where consumers copy their CDs onto an iPod) causes copyright holders to lose money. The review suggests that allowing consumers to format-shift can see them spending more money on music. Though the review also found that the economics of fair use rights is significantly under researched.

The review was prepared in November 2009, since then no other significant economic research on the subject has been published. In May 2010 SABIP published a report by Christian Handke, entitled The Economics of Copyright and Digitisation: A Report on the Literature and the Need for Further Research. The report concluded that there was a significant need for empirical research to inform copyright policy and specifically research to understand how digital copying affects the supply of copyrighted works and whether the copyright system acts as a barrier to technological transition.

Prepared for Consumer Focus by:

  • Mark Rogers, Harris Manchester College, Oxford University and Economics and Strategy Group, Aston University
  • Joshua Tomalin, Harris Manchester College, Oxford University
  • Ray Corrigan, Open University
(329.74 KB) download
Literature review (cover)