Thursday 6 November 2014

Economics of Copyright: a new title for students and teachers

Handbook On The Economics Of Copyright: a Guide for Students and Teachers, edited by Richard Watt (Associate Professor of Economics and Finance, University of Canterbury, New Zealand), is the latest Edward Elgar Publishing title to address the point of contact between economics and intellectual property rights. It's a lot shorter than many of the same publisher's sorties into IP-and-economics, some of which go into two vast volumes and have to be driven around in trucks. The content appears to be pretty fresh too; this is not one of those books that turns out to be a collection of previously published "greatest hits" going back 30 years or more.

According to the book's web-blurb:
Featuring expert contributors from around the world, this book offers insight into the vital theoretical and practical aspects of the economics of copyright. Topics discussed include fair use, performers’ rights, copyright and trade, online music streaming, internet piracy, copyright and visual art markets, and open source publishing. In addition to in-depth coverage of these timely topics, the authors also offer insightful predictions and policy recommendations for the future.

Each of the self-contained chapters is written by a distinguished expert and is pitched at a level designed to be accessible to advanced undergraduate and postgraduate students in economics and law. As a whole, the book covers all of the topical content that a student of copyright economics should know. Teachers and lecturers will find all the required material to provide a comprehensive overview of the subject in a single volume. For scholars with a legal background, the book will also act as an effective introduction or refresher in the economic theory underlying copyright.
This book, refreshingly, does indeed include contributions from outside North America, thus addressing one of this blogger's long-standing objections to IP-and-economics titles from the same publishing house that contain only US material but give no indication to that effect for the benefit of prospective readers and purchasers.  Apart from the US and the editor's home turf of New Zealand, contributors to this volume are drawn from Australia, Germany, the Netherlands, Denmark, Italy and the United Kingdom.

While the chapters on the economics side contain a good deal of algebra that will prove challenging for the regular IP lawyer to navigate, the regular legal chapters (supplied by fellow blogger Eleonora, the evergreen Wendy J. Gordon and the perennially entertaining :Paul J. Heald) should lie within both their comfort zones and their pleasure zones.  This blogger has followed Paul's work on the public domain over the years [this blog has followed it too: see posts here and here] and commends it to anyone who has never previously taken the subject seriously.

Bibliographical data: 351 pp, Hardback ISBN 978 1 84980 852 1; ebook ISBN 978 1 84980 853 8. Price $205 (online price $184.50). Web page here.

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