|An Economic Analysis of Copyright Terms ⎯⎯Focusing on the Architectural Changes by Digital Rights Management Technologies|
|copyright, copyright terms, economic analysis, digital rights management, DRM|
|The Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act of 1998 (CTEA), while having
survived a surprisingly strong constitutional challenge in Eldred v. Ashcroft,
remains controversial on efficiency ground. This article seeks to provide an economic
analysis of the social costs of prolonged copyright terms, taking into account
the potential of digital rights management (DRM) technologies.
The article suggests DRM technologies, when properly designed, may reduce
the dead weight loss of copyright monopolies and the transaction costs of copyright
licensing, seemingly strengthening the argument for prolonged or even perpetual copyright
protection. Current DRM technologies are nevertheless far from ideal. With pervasive
public disaffection, hackers working around the clock, and half-hearted backing
from some heavyweight players, their future is overcast at best. Adding the cost
of DRM deployment and enforcement, and the potential efficiency loss by mass consumer
backlash as informed by behavioral economic analysis, it is only prudent for
Taiwanese legislators to think harder on lengthening copyright terms.