Beyond the Incentive-Access Paradigm? Product Differentiation & Copyright Revisited

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  • August 3, 2015

In recent years, the “product differentiation” theory has become an important component of copyright-policy analysis. Given the problems inherent in the traditional theory, grounded in a framework known as the incentive-access paradigm, used for copyright-policy analysis, product differentiation could offer a more structured understanding of how copyright laws can increase innovation. In this article, Professors Bracha and Syed reevaluate the product differentiation theory as applied to copyright law. They develop an analytic framework of “inframarginal” and “supramarginal” parameters of copyright protection, which integrates disparate strands of economic analysis of copyright into a single coherent whole. They further try to clarify and correct many of the concerns that have been raised about the product differentiation theory. They then evaluate the copyright-policy reforms that have been advanced on the basis of the product differentiation theory. Finally, they offer their own assessment of what policy prescriptions most plausibly follow from product differentiation analysis.