Policy Research Domains (Adjacent Basic Research Areas) B. Regulatory Reforms and Evaluation Frameworks for Deregulation

Searching for Optimal Copyright Protection Levels

Project Leader/Sub-Leader


TANAKA Tatsuo Faculty Fellow



2007 - 2010

The development of digital technologies and networks has led to the proliferation of copyright infringement. Robust copyright protection is now viewed as a prerequisite in many types of businesses. From this perspective, it can be argued that stronger protection contributes positively to a knowledge-based economy. On the other hand, new services are being created in areas of weak copyright protection, such as YouTube and search engines, and businesses are emerging from copyright grey zones. This underscores to the argument that copyright restrictions prevent the birth of new industries and businesses. From this perspective, it can be argued that weaker protection stimulates creativity and heightens economic welfare. So, which of these opinions is correct?

A critical point in addressing this issue relates to the following question: At current levels of protection, what impact does the burning of personal copies have on the sale of the original product? If there is a serious reduction in sales, it would be better to strengthen copyright protection at the expense of hampering the emergence of new businesses. On the other hand, if sales are not seriously impacted, it would be better to ignore the burning of personal copies and promote the development of new businesses.

The purpose of this project is to empirically verify this question. As considerable research has already been done in the area of music software, this project will focus on video content. Specifically, we will examine the extent to which coverage of television programs (animation) and music on YouTube, Nico Nico Douga and Winny negatively affect the revenues of copyright owners. A reduction in revenues could justify the introduction of stronger protection. However, if revenues have not declined, these new services should not be restricted, and from an economic perspective, it would be desirable to capitalize on the new business opportunities created by such services.

January 22, 2008 - December 31, 2010

Major Research Results


RIETI Discussion Papers