Do Bad Things Happen When Works Enter the Public Domain?: Empirical Tests of Copyright Term Extension
The international debate over copyright term extension for existing works turns on the validity of three empirical assertions about what happens to works when they fall into the public domain. Our study of the market for audio books and a related human subjects experiment suggest that all three assertions are suspect. We demonstrate that audio books made from public domain bestsellers (1913-22) are significantly more available than those made from copyrighted bestsellers (1923-32). We also demonstrate that recordings of public domain and copyrighted books are of equal quality. While a low quality recording seems to lower a listener's valuation of the underlying work, our data do not suggest any correlation between that valuation and legal status of the underlying work. We also report important pricing data.