A practical model of copyright economics with intermediaries

Peter Dicola*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


After streaming, what should copyright economics look like? The standard model of copyright economics used by courts and other policy makers-the “protect what would otherwise be a public good from copyists” model-is not general enough. It is particularly poorly suited for the era of internet streaming, because it assumes that the producers of creative works are vertically integrated with the utlimate retailers of those works. In this paper I argue for a new, rough-and-ready framework for use in formulating copyright policy. Rather than assuming a vertically integrated producer-retailer, my proposed model disaggregates the producer and the retailer, which I refer to more generally as an intermediary. One central feature of the streaming era is the growth and resulting bargaining power of technological intermediaries, including the large internet platforms and various popular streaming services. My proposed model of copyright economics allows for variation in the bargaining power of intermediaries, rather than implicitly assuming their power away. Making this shift in our mental model-our metaphor-for how copyright works changes the way we think about copyright law’s economic functions. It also suggests the need to refocus copyright policy on the important dynamics between producers and intermediaries.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-51
Number of pages51
JournalReview of Economic Research on Copyright Issues
StatePublished - 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Economics, Econometrics and Finance(all)
  • Law
  • Management of Technology and Innovation


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