Effects of Copyrights on Science. Evidence from the WWII Book Republication Program

Resource Type
Dataset : observational data
  • Biasi, Barbara (Yale)
  • Moser, Petra (NYU)
Publication Date
Funding Reference
  • National Science Foundation
    • Award Number: 1151180-Moser
Free Keywords
Copyright; Science
  • Abstract

    Copyrights, which establish intellectual property in music, science, and other creative goods, are intended to encourage creativity. Yet, copyrights also raise the cost of accessing existing work - potentially discouraging future innovation. This paper uses an exogenous shift towards weak copyrights (and low access costs) during WWII to examine the potentially adverse effects of copyrights on science. Using two alternative identification strategies, we show that weaker copyrights encouraged the creation of follow-on science, measured by citations. This change is driven by a reduction in access costs, allowing scientists at less affluent institutions to use existing knowledge in new follow-on research.
Temporal Coverage
  • 1920-01-01 / 1970-12-31
    Time Period: Thu Jan 01 00:00:00 EST 1920--Thu Dec 31 00:00:00 EST 1970
  • 2014-01-01 / 2019-12-31
    Collection Date(s): Wed Jan 01 00:00:00 EST 2014--Tue Dec 31 00:00:00 EST 2019
Geographic Coverage
  • United States, Germany
Sampled Universe
Our main data include BRP books in chemistry and mathematics, a control group of Swiss books in the same fields, and all new articles and books that cite BRP and Swiss books between 1920 and 1970. Two alternative measures for scientific output capture new PhD theses in mathematics and US patents that use knowledge in BRP books.
  • Biasi, Barbara, and Petra Moser. “Effects of Copyrights on Science.  Evidence from the WWII Book Republication Program.” American Economic Journal. Microeconomics forthcoming (n.d.).

Update Metadata: 2020-05-18 | Issue Number: 2 | Registration Date: 2020-03-25