Empirical Copyright: A Case Study of File Sharing, Sales Revenue, and Music Output Academic Article uri icon


  • A simple intuition justifies copyright: more revenue means more original works. In this article, I test that intuition by examining how the rise of file sharing, and the contemporaneous decline in record sales, affected music output. Using the appearance of new artists and new songs on the Billboard Hot 100 chart as a measure of music output, I show that the decline in sales was associated, ceteris paribus, with (i) fewer new artists but (ii) more hit songs by each new artist. Because the second effect outweighed the first, the rise of file sharing and the contemporaneous decline in record sales was associated with a net increase in the production of new hit songs.

published proceedings

  • Supreme Court Economic Review

author list (cited authors)

  • Lunney, G

complete list of authors

  • Lunney, Glynn

publication date

  • June 2016