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Restricted access: How the internet can be used to promote reading and learning

2022-derksen.pdf: “Restricted access: How the internet can be used to promote reading and learning”⁠, Laura Derksen, Catherine Michaud-Leclerc, Pedro C. L. Souza (2022-03-01; ; similar):

  • We evaluate the impact of restricted internet access on education outcomes.
  • We randomize access to Wikipedia in Malawian secondary schools.
  • Online information appeals broadly to student interests.
  • Increased time spent reading leads to gains in English exam scores.
  • The internet can also improve Biology scores, especially for low achievers.

Can schools use the internet to promote reading and learning?

We provided Wikipedia access to randomly-selected students in Malawian boarding secondary schools [n = 301 vs n = 1,207 controls]. Students used the online resource broadly and intensively, and found it trustworthy, including for information about news and safe sex.

We find a 0.10σ impact on English exam scores, and a higher impact among low achievers (0.20σ). Students used Wikipedia to study Biology, and exam scores increased for low achievers (0.14σ).

Our results show that by restricting internet access to a source of engaging and accessible reading material, it is possible to encourage independent reading and affect educational outcomes.

[Keywords: Internet, information, education, development, reading, secondary school]

…Our experiment took place in 4 government boarding schools which serve students of mixed socioeconomic status⁠. Each school has ~500 students spread over 4 forms (grade levels). Government boarding schools are common in Malawi and across sub-Saharan Africa. They are more academically competitive than government day schools and most private schools (de Hoop 2010). However, even in these schools, many students do struggle academically. In particular, 1⁄4th of students had an English exam score below 50⁄100 in the year before the intervention. While government boarding schools attract good students, fees are not exorbitant.25 Indeed, according to our baseline survey, many students at our sample schools are of lower socioeconomic status: 42% do not have electricity at home, and 45% do not have running water. 1⁄3rd of students have at least one parent who did not complete primary school.

Boarding schools provide a controlled environment; students have no access to the internet outside of our intervention, allowing us to cleanly limit internet use to Wikipedia. At the time of the intervention, the school grounds had consistent 3G or 4G network coverage. However, students were not allowed to access the internet or use phones, even outside of class time, and being caught with a phone at school was grounds for suspension. Students sleep in dormitories, and are not permitted to leave the school grounds. In particular, they do not go home during the term, so those who do have home internet access cannot use it.26

We conducted a randomized experiment in government boarding schools in Malawi, a country with rapidly improving internet infrastructure, but where students have limited internet experience and no internet access at school. This setting allows us to isolate both treatment and control students from the broader internet. Students were allowed to use Wikipedia inside a classroom referred to as a digital library, using anonymous usernames. Students were aware that their browsing behavior was private, and that browsing histories could not be linked to individual students. The digital library was open evenings and weekends during one school year, and access was restricted to treated students. This design limits potential spillovers on English language skills and Biology exam scores. Students did not have any other internet access during term time.

…Students found the online material engaging, as evidenced by their frequent and broad use of Wikipedia. They spent, on average, 80 minutes per week online. Rather than relying on aggregate usage statistics, we observe individual browsing histories, which allows us to characterize demand for specific topics at the level of an individual. Each student browsed, on average, more than 800 different pages across a range of topics.

Students came to use and trust Wikipedia, particularly for topics which are important, prone to misinformation and often absent from school books, such as world news and safe sex. We find spikes in activity in the week surrounding world news events that occurred during the experiment. We also show that students with access to Wikipedia are able to find news information that control group students cannot. Young people are generally curious about sex, and we find that students spent 7% of their browsing time on topics related to sex and sexuality. While Wikipedia pages are informative, and access to accurate information about sex can be important (Dupas 2011; Kerwin, 2018; Derksen et al 2021), students may have browsed these pages not only for information but also as a form of entertainment. 1⁄3rd of the time spent browsing these topics overlapped with topics from the school syllabus, such as pregnancy and reproductive health. Students sought information on both news and sex and sexuality independently, without prompts or incentives.

“The Impact of Open Access Mandates on Invention”, Bryan & Ozcan 2021

2021-bryan.pdf: “The Impact of Open Access Mandates on Invention”⁠, Kevin A. Bryan, Yasin Ozcan (2021-11-30; similar):

How do barriers to the diffusion of academic research affect innovation?

In 2008, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) mandated free online availability of funded research. This policy caused a 50 percentage point increase in free access to funded articles. We introduce a novel measure, in-text patent citations, to study how this mandate affected industry use of academic science. After 2008, patents cite NIH-funded research 12% to 27% more often. Nonfunded research, funded research in journals unaffected by the mandate, and academic citations see no change. These estimates are consistent with a model of search for useful knowledge. Inefficiency caused by academic publishing may be substantial.

Externalities in knowledge production: evidence from a randomized field experiment

2022-hinnosaar.pdf: “Externalities in knowledge production: evidence from a randomized field experiment”⁠, Marit Hinnosaar, Toomas Hinnosaar, Michael E. Kummer, Olga Slivko (2021-09-01; ; similar):

Are there positive or negative externalities in knowledge production? We analyze whether current contributions to knowledge production increase or decrease the future growth of knowledge.

To assess this, we use a randomized field experiment that added content to some pages in Wikipedia while leaving similar pages unchanged. We compare subsequent content growth over the next 4 years between the treatment and control groups.

Our estimates allow us to rule out effects on 4-year growth of content length larger than 12%. We can also rule out effects on 4-year growth of content quality larger than 4 points, which is less than one-fifth of the size of the treatment itself. The treatment increased editing activity in the first 2 years, but most of these edits only modified the text added by the treatment.

Our results have implications for information seeding and incentivizing contributions. They imply that additional content may inspire future contributions in the short-term and medium-term but do not generate large externalities in the long term.

[Keywords: knowledge accumulation, user-generated content, Wikipedia, public goods provision, field experiment]

“Digitization and the Demand for Physical Works: Evidence from the Google Books Project”, Nagaraj & Reimers 2021

“Digitization and the Demand for Physical Works: Evidence from the Google Books Project”⁠, Abhishek Nagaraj, Imke Reimers (2021-04-12; similar):

Digitization has allowed customers to access content through online channels at low cost or for free. While free digital distribution has spurred concerns about cannibalizing demand for physical alternatives, digital distribution that incorporates search technologies could also allow the discovery of new content and boost, rather than displace, physical sales.

To test this idea, we study the impact of the Google Books digitization project, which digitized large collections of written works and made the full texts of these works widely searchable. Exploiting an unique natural experiment from Harvard Libraries, which worked with Google Books to digitize its catalog over a period of 5 years, we find that digitization can boost sales of physical book editions by 5–8%.

Digital distribution seems to stimulate demand through discovery: the increase in sales is stronger for less popular books and spills over to a digitized author’s non-digitized works. On the supply side, digitization allows small and independent publishers to discover new content and introduce new physical editions for existing books, further increasing sales.

Combined, our results point to the potential of free digital distribution to stimulate discovery and strengthen the demand for and supply of physical products.

…We tackle the empirical challenges through an unique natural experiment leveraging a research partnership with Harvard’s Widener Library, which provided books to seed the Google Books program. The digitization effort at Harvard only included out of copyright works, which—unlike in-copyright works—were made available to consumers in their entirety. This allows us to fairly assess the tradeoff between cannibalization (by a close substitute) and discovery (through search technology). Owing to the size of the collection, book digitization (and subsequent distribution) at Widener took over 5 years, providing substantial variation in the timing of book digitization. Further, our interviews with key informants suggest that the order of book digitization proceeded on a “shelf-by-shelf” basis, driven largely by convenience. While their testimony is useful to suggest no overt sources of bias, our setting is still not a randomized experiment, so that we perform a number of checks to establish the validity of the research design and address any potential concerns.

We obtained access to data on the timing of digitization activity as well as information on a comparable set of never-digitized books, which allows us to evaluate the impact of digital distribution on demand for physical works. Specifically, we combine data from 3 main sources. First, we collect data on the shelf-level location of books within the Harvard system between 2003 and 2011 along with information on their loan activity. Since most books are never loaned, our analyses focus on 88,006 books (out of over 500,000) that had at least one loan in the sample period (and are robust to using a smaller sample of books with at least one loan before the start of digitization). Second, for a subset of 9,204 books (in English with at least four total loans), we obtain weekly US sales data on all related physical editions from the NPD (formerly Nielsen) BookScan database. The sales data must be manually collected and matched, which restricts the size of this sample. Finally, we are interested in the effect of digital distribution on physical supply through the release of new editions. Accordingly, we also collect data from the Bowker Books-In-Print database on book editions and prices, differentiating between established publishers and independents. We use these combined data and the natural experiment we outlined to examine the effects of free digital distribution on the demand and supply of physical editions. Our panel data structure allows for a difference-in-differences design that can incorporate time and, notably, book fixed effects, increasing confidence in the research design.

The baseline results suggest that rather than decrease sales, the impact of Google Books digitization on sales of physical copies is positive. In our preferred specification, digitization increases sales by 4.8% and increases the likelihood of at least one sale by 7.7 percentage points…Each year, books that are never scanned have an average annual probability of being sold of 16%, whereas those that are scanned have a probability of only 8.5% before their digitization and 24.1% after it. Similarly, books that are never digitized have a probability of 17.8%, while books that are digitized have a probability of 19.3% before their digitization but only 11% after their digitization. These differences are indicative of large potential impacts of digitization on demand.

…We confirm our findings in a series of robustness checks and tests of the validity of the research design. First, in addition to book and year × shelf-location fixed effects, we also incorporate time-varying controls at the book level such as search volume from Google Trends and availability on alternative platforms like Project Gutenberg. Second, we provide a number of subsample analyses dropping certain books that raise concerns about the exogeneity of their timing, including limiting the data to only public domain and scanned books. Third, we create a “twins” sample that consists of pairs of scanned and unscanned books adjacent to each other in the library shelves and hence covering the same subject. Finally, we also collected data on Amazon reviews for a set of books in our sample as an alternate measure of physical demand. All results are largely in line with the baseline result

“Roadblock to Innovation: The Role of Patent Litigation in Corporate R&D”, Mezzanotti 2021

2021-mezzanotti.pdf: “Roadblock to Innovation: The Role of Patent Litigation in Corporate R&D”⁠, Filippo Mezzanotti (2021-02-02; ; similar):

I examine how patent enforcement affects corporate research and development (R&D), exploiting the legal changes induced by the Supreme Court decision eBay v. MercExchange. This ruling increased courts’ flexibility in remedying patent cases and effectively lowered the potential costs of patent litigation for defendants. For identification, I compare innovative activity across firms differentially exposed to patent litigation before the ruling. Across several measures, I find that the decision led to a general increase in innovation. This result confirms that the changes in enforcement induced by the ruling reduced some of the distortions caused by patent litigation. Exploring the channels, I show that patent litigation negatively affects investment because it lowers the returns from R&D and exacerbates its financing constraints.

“How Is Science Clicked on Twitter? Click Metrics for Bitly Short Links to Scientific Publications”, Fang et al 2021

“How is science clicked on Twitter? Click metrics for Bitly short links to scientific publications”⁠, Zhichao Fang, Rodrigo Costas, Wencan Tian, Xianwen Wang, Paul Wouters (2021-01-23; ; similar):

To provide some context for the potential engagement behavior of Twitter users around science, this article investigates how Bitly short links to scientific publications embedded in scholarly Twitter mentions are clicked on Twitter.

Based on the click metrics of over 1.1 million Bitly short links referring to Web of Science (WoS) publications, our results show that around 49.5% of them were not clicked by Twitter users.

For those Bitly short links with clicks from Twitter, the majority of their Twitter clicks accumulated within a short period of time after they were first tweeted. Bitly short links to the publications in the field of Social Sciences and Humanities tend to attract more clicks from Twitter over other subject fields. This article also assesses the extent to which Twitter clicks are correlated with some other impact indicators. Twitter clicks are weakly correlated with scholarly impact indicators (WoS citations and Mendeley readers), but moderately correlated to other Twitter engagement indicators (total retweets and total likes).

In light of these results, we highlight the importance of paying more attention to the click metrics of URLs in scholarly Twitter mentions, to improve our understanding about the more effective dissemination and reception of science information on Twitter.

“Shadow of the Great Firewall: The Impact of Google Blockade on Innovation in China”, Zheng & Wang 2020

2020-zheng.pdf: “Shadow of the great firewall: The impact of Google blockade on innovation in China”⁠, Yanfeng Zheng, Qinyu Ryan Wang (2020-05-29; ; similar):

Building on the search-based view of innovation, we develop a framework regarding how Google guides innovative search behavior.

We exploit an exogenous shock, China’s unexpected blockade of Google in 2014⁠, and adopt a difference in differences approach with a matched sample of patents from China and nearby regions to test our predictions.

Our analyses show that the blockade negatively affected inventors in China to search distantly in technological and cognitive spaces compared to those in the control group who were presumably unaffected by the event. The impact was less severe for inventors with larger collaboration networks but became more pronounced in technological fields proximate to science…we measured invention economic value with the valuation dataset provided by Bureau van Dijk (BvD), a data analytics company owned by Moody’s, who estimates a patent’s dollar value from technical, market, and legal dimensions based on multiple triangulated datasets such as patent litigations and company information. Using this valuation. We find that the coefficient of China × blockade is negative (β = −0.081, p < 0.05)…Our analyses reveal that the economic value of inventions from China dropped by around 8% or $57,000 after the event compared to those from nearby unaffected regions.

Our findings contribute to innovative search literature and highlight the theoretical and practical importance of Internet technologies in developing valuable inventions.

Inventors nowadays depend heavily on Internet search to access information and knowledge. They therefore become vulnerable to barriers imposed on their online search. In this study, we find that China’s unexpected blockade of Google and its affiliated services altered the searching behavior of inventors in China such that they became less able to seek distant knowledge. This impact was further contingent on the availability of offline knowledge channels and the reliance of each technological field on science. We also find that the economic value of their inventions decreased due to the blockade. Our findings reveal a neglected but consequential aspect of Internet censorship beyond the commonly found media effect and offer important implications to practitioners and policymakers.

[Keywords: Google, innovation, recombinant search, distant search, Internet censorship]

“BioRxiv: the Preprint Server for Biology”, Sever et al 2019

“bioRxiv: the preprint server for biology”⁠, Richard Sever, Ted Roeder, Samantha Hindle, Linda Sussman, Kevin-John Black, Janet Argentine, Wayne Manos et al (2019-11-06; ; similar):

The traditional publication process delays dissemination of new research, often by months, sometimes by years. Preprint servers decouple dissemination of research papers from their evaluation and certification by journals, allowing researchers to share work immediately, receive feedback from a much larger audience, and provide evidence of productivity long before formal publication.

Launched in 2013 as a non-profit community service, the bioRxiv server has brought preprint practice to the life sciences and recently posted its 64,000th manuscript. The server now receives more than four million views per month and hosts papers spanning all areas of biology. Initially dominated by evolutionary biology, genetics/​genomics and computational biology, bioRxiv has been increasingly populated by papers in neuroscience, cell and developmental biology, and many other fields.

Changes in journal and funder policies that encourage preprint posting have helped drive adoption, as has the development of bioRxiv technologies that allow authors to transfer papers easily between the server and journals. A bioRxiv user survey found that 42% of authors post their preprints prior to journal submission whereas 37% post concurrently with journal submission. Authors are motivated by a desire to share work early; they value the feedback they receive, and very rarely experience any negative consequences of preprint posting.

Rapid dissemination via bioRxiv is also encouraging new initiatives that experiment with the peer review process and the development of novel approaches to literature filtering and assessment.

“The Effects of Internet Book Piracy: The Case of Comics”, Tanaka 2019 (page 2)

2019-tanaka.pdf#page=2: “The Effects of Internet Book Piracy: The Case of Comics”⁠, Tatsuo Tanaka (2019-08-08; ; similar):

In this study, the effects of internet book piracy in the case of the Japanese comic book market were examined using direct measurement of product level piracy ratio and a massive deletion project as a natural experiment⁠.

Total effect of the piracy is negative to the legitimate sales, but panel regression and difference-in-difference analysis consistently indicated that the effect of piracy is heterogeneous: piracy decreased the legitimate sales of ongoing comics, whereas increased the legitimate sales of completed comics. The latter result is interpreted as follows: piracy reminds consumers of past comics and stimulates sales in that market.

[Keywords: copyright, comic, piracy, Internet, DID, manga]

Wikipedia Matters

“Wikipedia Matters”⁠, Marit Hinnosaar, Toomas Hinnosaar, Michael Kummer, Olga Slivko (2019-07-14; ; backlinks; similar):

We document a causal impact of online user-generated information on real-world economic outcomes. In particular, we conduct a randomized field experiment to test whether additional content on Wikipedia pages about cities affects tourists’ choices of overnight visits. Our treatment of adding information to Wikipedia increases overnight stays in treated cities compared to non-treated cities. The impact is largely driven by improvements to shorter and relatively incomplete pages on Wikipedia. Our findings highlight the value of content in digital public goods for informing individual choices.

[Keywords: field experiment, user-generated content, Wikipedia, tourism industry]

“The Machine As Author”, Gervais 2019

2019-gervais.pdf: “The Machine As Author”⁠, Daniel J. Gervais (2019-03-24; ⁠, ⁠, ; backlinks; similar):

The use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) machines using deep learning neural networks to create material that facially looks like it should be protected by copyright is growing exponentially. From articles in national news media to music, film, poetry and painting, AI machines create material that has economic value and that competes with productions of human authors. The Article reviews both normative and doctrinal arguments for and against the protection by copyright of literary and artistic productions made by AI machines.

The Article finds that the arguments in favor of protection are flawed and unconvincing and that a proper analysis of the history, purpose, and major doctrines of copyright law all lead to the conclusion that productions that do not result from human creative choices belong to the public domain.

The Article proposes a test to determine which productions should be protected, including in case of collaboration between human and machine. Finally, the Article applies the proposed test to three specific fact patterns to illustrate its application.

[Keywords: copyright, author, artificial intelligence, machine learning]

“Mickey Mouse Will Be Public Domain Soon—here’s What That Means: The Internet Stopped Another Copyright Extension without Firing a Shot”, Lee 2019

“Mickey Mouse will be public domain soon—here’s what that means: The Internet stopped another copyright extension without firing a shot”⁠, Timothy B. Lee (2019; ; backlinks; similar):

As the ball dropped over Times Square last night, all copyrighted works published in 1923 fell into the public domain (with a few exceptions). Everyone now has the right to republish them or adapt them for use in new works. It’s the first time this has happened in 21 years.

In 1998, works published in 1922 or earlier were in the public domain, with 1923 works scheduled to expire at the beginning of 1999. But then Congress passed the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act. It added 20 years to the terms of older works, keeping 1923 works locked up until 2019. Many people—including me—expected another fight over copyright extension in 2018. But it never happened. Congress left the existing law in place, and so those 1923 copyrights expired on schedule this morning.

…Next January, George Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue will fall into the public domain. It will be followed by The Great Gatsby in January 2021 and Ernest Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises in January 2022. On January 1, 2024, we’ll see the expiration of the copyright for Steamboat Willie—and with it Disney’s claim to the film’s star, Mickey Mouse. The copyrights to Superman, Batman, Disney’s Snow White, and early Looney Tunes characters will all fall into the public domain between 2031 and 2035.

…[but] Using public-domain characters could be a legal minefield: A company like Disney enjoys several layers of legal protection for a major character like Mickey Mouse. It owns the copyright to the original character. It owns the copyrights to subsequent versions of the character, which tend to be better known to modern audiences. And it also owns trademark rights…The most obvious example here is Mickey’s white gloves. He didn’t wear them in Steamboat Willie. So if you wanted to sell a Mickey toy with white gloves, you’d probably need to wait until 2025, when the copyright for the first Mickey short with white gloves, The Opry House, is scheduled to expire. The early Mickey Mouse cartoons were black and white, so if you wanted to make a Mickey Mouse toy with modern colors, you’d have to carefully research when those colors first appeared. Later changes to Mickey’s appearance have been more subtle. But they may still be legally important…This is a line that third parties are already walking for the Sherlock Holmes series, which was published between 1887 and 1927. Most of the books are in the public domain, but the last few volumes are still under copyright…The same legal issues will arise when other iconic characters—Batman, Superman, Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Winnie the Pooh, and so forth—fall into the public domain over the next 20 years…Anyone will be able to make new Batman cartoons after 2035, but they’ll have to be careful to only use elements from Batman’s original incarnation.

“Can Creative Firms Thrive Without Copyright? Value Generation And Capture From Private-Collective Innovation”, Erickson 2018b

2018-erickson-2.pdf: “Can Creative Firms Thrive Without Copyright? Value Generation And Capture From Private-Collective Innovation”⁠, Kristofer Erickson (2018-09-01; similar):

Accounts of the copyright industries in national reports suggest that strong intellectual property (IP) rights support creative firms. However, mounting evidence from sectors such as video game production and 3-D printing indicate that business models based on open IP can also be profitable. This study investigates the relationship between IP protection and value capture for creative industry firms engaged in collective/​open innovation activities.

A sample of 22 businesses interviewed in this study did not require exclusive ownership of creative materials but instead employed a range of strategies to compete and capture value. Benefits for some firms resemble those for participants in private-collective innovation (PCI), originally observed in open-source software development. Advantages of PCI include the ability to commercialize user improvements and a reduction in transaction costs related to seeking and obtaining permission to innovate existing ideas. Some creative firms in this study were able to generate and capture value from PCI in 2 directions: upstream and downstream.

These dynamics offer a mechanism to understand and articulate the value of openness for creative industries policy and management of creative organizations.

[Keywords: Private-Collective Innovation, copyright, creative industries, appropriation, business model innovation, intellectual property management]

Table 1: Summary of creative firms interviewed

“What Is the Commons Worth? Estimating the Value of Wikimedia Imagery by Observing Downstream Use”, Erickson et al 2018

2018-erickson.pdf: “What is the Commons Worth? Estimating the Value of Wikimedia Imagery by Observing Downstream Use”⁠, Kristofer Erickson, Felix Rodriguez Perez, Jesus Rodriguez Perez (2018-08-22; ; similar):

The Wikimedia Commons (WC) is a peer-produced repository of freely licensed images, videos, sounds and interactive media, containing more than 45 million files. This paper attempts to quantify the societal value of the WC by tracking the downstream use of images found on the platform.

We take a random sample of 10,000 images from WC and apply an automated reverse-image search to each, recording when and where they are used ‘in the wild’. We detect 54,758 downstream uses of the initial sample, and we characterise these at the level of generic and country-code top-level domains (TLDs). We analyse the impact of specific variables on the odds that an image is used. The random sampling technique enables us to estimate overall value of all images contained on the platform.

Drawing on the method employed by Heald et al 2015⁠, we find a potential contribution of $28.9 billion from downstream use of Wikimedia Commons images over the lifetime of the project.

…We find an overall quantity of 54,758 downstream uses of images from our sample. We estimate a series of logistic regressions to study variables that are statistically-significant in the odds of uptake of WC images. Overall, we find that license type is a statistically-significant factor in whether or not an image is used outside of the WC. Public domain files and licenses (those without attribution or share-alike clauses) are associated with increased odds of downstream use. This is consistent with other economic studies of the public domain ([2] [6]). We also find that for commercial use, prior appearance of the file elsewhere on Wikipedia has a statistically-significant positive effect, suggesting that human curation and selection are important in promoting key images to widespread use. We suggest further experimentation using a purposive sample of ‘quality’ and ‘valued’ images to test for the impact of human curation on the WC.

…This paper has tracked downstream digital use of images hosted on the WC. We find a mean rate of online use of 5.48 uses per image. Using commercial TLDs as a proxy for commercial use, we estimate a mean commercial usage of 2.99 per image. The odds that a given image from the WC will be used is statistically-significantly influenced by the license type issued by its uploader. Images with attribution and share-alike licenses have statistically-significantly reduced odds of being used externally compared to images fully in the public domain.

The actual societal value of the WC is likely considerably greater, and would include direct personal uses as well as print, educational and embedded software applications not detectable by our reverse image search technique. Getty routinely charges license fees of $650 or more for creative use (such as magazine covers), considerably higher than the rate for editorial use. Our valuation method could be improved with more information about usage rates of commercial stock photography as well as potential qualitative differences between stock and Commons-produced imagery.

“Bad Romance: To Cash in on Kindle Unlimited, a Cabal of Authors Gamed Amazon’s Algorithm”, Jeong 2018

“Bad romance: To cash in on Kindle Unlimited, a cabal of authors gamed Amazon’s algorithm”⁠, Sarah Jeong (2018-07-16; ; backlinks; similar):

On June 4th, a group of lawyers shuffled into a federal court in Manhattan to argue over two trademark registrations. The day’s hearing was the culmination of months of internet drama—furious blog posts, Twitter hashtags, YouTube videos, claims of doxxing, and death threats…They were gathered there that day because one self-published romance author was suing another for using the word “cocky” in her titles. And as absurd as this courtroom scene was—with a federal judge soberly examining the shirtless doctors on the cover of an “MFM Menage Romance”—it didn’t even begin to scratch the surface.

The fight over #Cockygate, as it was branded online, emerged from the strange universe of Amazon Kindle Unlimited, where authors collaborate and compete to game Amazon’s algorithm. Trademark trolling is just the beginning: There are private chat groups, ebook exploits, conspiracies to seed hyper-specific trends like “Navy SEALs” and “mountain men”, and even a controversial sweepstakes in which a popular self-published author offered his readers a chance to win diamonds from Tiffany’s if they reviewed his new book…A genre that mostly features shiny, shirtless men on its covers and sells ebooks for ¢99 a pop might seem unserious. But at stake are revenues sometimes amounting to a million dollars a year, with some authors easily netting six figures a month. The top authors can drop $50,000 on a single ad campaign that will keep them in the charts—and see a worthwhile return on that investment.

…According to Willink, over the course of RWA, Valderrama told her about certain marketing and sales strategies, which she claimed to handle for other authors. Valderrama allegedly said that she organized newsletter swaps, in which authors would promote each other’s books to their respective mailing lists. She also claimed to manage review teams—groups of assigned readers who were expected to leave reviews for books online. According to Willink, Valderrama’s authors often bought each other’s books to improve their ranking on the charts—something that she arranged, coordinating payments through her own PayPal account. Valderrama also told her that she used multiple email addresses to buy authors’ books on iBooks when they were trying to hit the USA Today list. When Valderrama invited Willink to a private chat group of romance authors, Willink learned practices like chart gaming and newsletter placement selling—and much more—were surprisingly common.

…In yet more screencaps, members discuss the mechanics of “book stuffing.” Book stuffing is a term that encompasses a wide range of methods for taking advantage of the Kindle Unlimited revenue structure. In Kindle Unlimited, readers pay $9.99 a month to read as many books as they want that are available through the KU program. This includes both popular mainstream titles like the Harry Potter series and self-published romances put out by authors like Crescent and Hopkins. Authors are paid according to pages read, creating incentives to produce massively inflated and strangely structured books. The more pages Amazon thinks have been read, the more money an author receives.

…Book stuffing is particularly controversial because Amazon pays authors from a single communal pot. In other words, Kindle Unlimited is a zero-sum game. The more one author gets from Kindle Unlimited, the less the other authors get. The romance authors Willink was discovering didn’t go in for clumsy stuffings of automatic translations or HTML cruft; rather, they stuffed their books with ghostwritten content or repackaged, previously published material. In the latter case, the author will bait readers with promises of fresh content, like a new novella, at the end of the book. Every time a reader reads to the end of a 3,000-page book, the author earns almost 14 dollars. For titles that break into the top of the Kindle Unlimited charts, this trick can generate a fortune.

“Kindle Unlimited Book Stuffing Scam Earns Millions and Amazon Isn't Stopping It: Book Stuffer Chance Carter Is Gone. But Readers Are Still Paying for Books That Are 90% Filler.”, Zetlin 2018

“Kindle Unlimited Book Stuffing Scam Earns Millions and Amazon Isn't Stopping It: Book stuffer Chance Carter is gone. But readers are still paying for books that are 90% filler.”⁠, Minda Zetlin (2018-06-13; ; backlinks; similar):

…a distasteful practice called “book stuffing” by some Kindle Unlimited authors. Kindle Unlimited is an Amazon program that works like Netflix for books: You can read as much as you want for a flat monthly fee. For various reasons, Kindle Unlimited is filled with books written and self-published by independent authors, many of them in the romance genre.

How do authors get compensated when readers pay a flat fee for the service? Amazon has created a pool of funds that authors are paid from, currently around $22.5 million. Up until 2015, authors earned a flat fee for each download of their books. But the company noticed that many of these Kindle Unlimited books were very, very short. So instead, Amazon began paying a bit less than ¢0.5 cent for each page that was actually read. That’s how book stuffing was born.

It works like this. An Amazon author publishes a new book that’s, say, 300 pages long. At ¢0.5 per page, the author would earn about $1.50 every time that book was read to the end. To beef up their earnings, book stuffers add several other already-published books, or a long series of newsletters, to the end of the book as “bonus material.” Most stuffed books run near 3,000 pages, the maximum that Amazon will pay for. In the current system, an author could earn about $13.50 per book this way, which is more than most authors earn from traditional publishers when their books are sold as hardcovers.

$1.2 million a year?

Serious book stuffers acquire email lists that they sometimes share with each other. They boost their sales by sending out promotional email to hundreds of thousands of email addresses. They also spend a lot of money on Amazon Marketing Services, promoting their books as “sponsored” to Kindle Unlimited subscribers and other Kindle shoppers. These tactics, in combination with artificially producing positive reviews (against Amazon’s rules), help them rank high in Amazon’s romance category, crowding out authors who take a more traditional approach. Some book stuffers publish a new book every couple of weeks (they may use ghostwriters to actually write the books), doing a new promotion for each one. In this way, observers report, they can earn as much as $100,000 per month.

…Why would anyone read through 2,700 pages of uninteresting bonus material? They usually don’t, but many authors do something that gets people to turn to the last page of the book, such as promising a contest or giveaway (forbidden by Amazon rules), or putting some new and perhaps particularly racy content right at the end of the book. On some devices, Amazon may simply be using the last page opened as a measure of how much of a book was “read.” Thus, the author gets full credit for the book, even though the customer didn’t read all of it.

…Carter openly invited other authors to pay for the use of his “platform” to send out promotional emails to their own mailing lists and also share mailing lists and cross-promote with other authors/​book stuffers. In fact, he was so proud of his book stuffing talents that he posted his credo for the world to see in a Kindle publishing forum:

  • Making content as long as possible.
  • Releasing as frequently as possible.
  • Advertising as hard as possible.
  • Ranking as high as possible.
  • And then doing it all over again.

“Why Mickey Mouse’s 1998 Copyright Extension Probably Won’t Happen Again: Copyrights from the 1920s Will Start Expiring next Year If Congress Doesn’t Act.”, Lee 2018

“Why Mickey Mouse’s 1998 copyright extension probably won’t happen again: Copyrights from the 1920s will start expiring next year if Congress doesn’t act.”⁠, Timothy B. Lee (2018-01-08; ; backlinks; similar):

On January 1, 2019, every book, film, and song published in 1923 will fall out of copyright protection—something that hasn’t happened in 40 years. At least, that’s what will happen if Congress doesn’t retroactively change copyright law to prevent it—as Congress has done two previous times. Until the 1970s, copyright terms only lasted for 56 years. But Congress retroactively extended the term of older works to 75 years in 1976. Then on October 27, 1998—just weeks before works from 1923 were scheduled to fall into the public domain—President Bill Clinton signed legislation retroactively extending the term of older works to 95 years, locking up works published in 1923 or later for another 20 years.

Will Congress do the same thing again this year? To find out, we talked to groups on both sides of the nation’s copyright debate—to digital rights advocates at the Electronic Frontier Foundation and Public Knowledge and to industry groups like the Motion Picture Association of America and the Recording Industry Association of America. To our surprise, there seemed to be universal agreement that another copyright extension was unlikely to be on the agenda this year. “We are not aware of any such efforts, and it’s not something we are pursuing”, an RIAA spokesman told us when we asked about legislation to retroactively extend copyright terms. “While copyright term has been a longstanding topic of conversation in policy circles, we are not aware of any legislative proposals to address the issue”, the MPAA told us…“I haven’t seen any evidence that Big Content companies plan to push for another term extension”, Nazer added. “This is an election year, so if they wanted to get a big ticket like that through Congress, you would expect to see them laying the groundwork with lobbying and op-eds.”

The politics of copyright have changed dramatically…The rise of the Internet has totally changed the political landscape on copyright issues. The Electronic Frontier Foundation is much larger than it was in 1998. Other groups, including Public Knowledge, didn’t even exist 20 years ago. Internet companies—especially Google—have become powerful opponents of expanding copyright protections…The protest against SOPA “was a big show of force”, says Meredith Rose, a lawyer at Public Knowledge. The protest showed that “the public really cares about this stuff.” The defeat of SOPA was so complete that it has essentially ended efforts by copyright interests to expand copyright protection via legislation. Prior to SOPA, Congress would regularly pass bills ratcheting up copyright protections (like the 2008 PRO-IP Act, which beefed up anti-piracy efforts). Since 2012, copyright has been a legislative stalemate, with neither side passing substantial legislation.

Examining Wikipedia With a Broader Lens: Quantifying the Value of Wikipedia's Relationships with Other Large-Scale Online Communities “Examining Wikipedia With a Broader Lens: Quantifying the Value of Wikipedia's Relationships with Other Large-Scale Online Communities”⁠, Vincent, et al (2018; )

“The Prehistory of Biology Preprints: A Forgotten Experiment from the 1960s”, Cobb 2017

“The prehistory of biology preprints: A forgotten experiment from the 1960s”⁠, Matthew Cobb (2017-11-16; ; backlinks; similar):

In 1961, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) began to circulate biological preprints in a forgotten experiment called the Information Exchange Groups (IEGs). This system eventually attracted over 3,600 participants and saw the production of over 2,500 different documents, but by 1967, it was effectively shut down following the refusal of journals to accept articles that had been circulated as preprints.

This article charts the rise and fall of the IEGs and explores the parallels with the 1990s and the biomedical preprint movement of today.

“Creating a Last Twenty (L20) Collection: Implementing Section 108(h) in Libraries, Archives and Museums”, Gard 2017

2017-gard.pdf: “Creating a Last Twenty (L20) Collection: Implementing Section 108(h) in Libraries, Archives and Museums”⁠, Elizabeth Townsend Gard (2017-10-02; similar):

[IA blog] Section 108(h) has not been utilized by libraries and archives, in part because of the uncertainty over definitions (eg. “normal commercial exploitation”), determination of the eligibility window (last 20 years of the copyright term of published works), and how to communicate the information in the record to the general public.

This paper seeks to explore the elements necessary to implement the Last Twenty exception, otherwise known as Section 108(h) and create a Last Twenty (L20) collection. In short, published works in the last 20 years of the copyright may be digitized and distributed by libraries, archives, and museums, as long as there is no commercial sale of the works and no reasonably priced copy is available. This means that Section 108(h) is available for the forgotten and neglected works, 1923-1941, including millions of foreign works restored by GATT⁠. Section 108(h) is less effective for big, commercially available works.

In many ways, that is the dividing line created by Section 108(h): allow for commercial exploitation of works throughout their term, but allow libraries to rescue works that had no commercial exploitation or copies available for sale and make them available through copying and distribution for research, scholarship, and preservation. In fact, Section 108(h) when it was being debated in Congress was called labeled “orphan works.” This paper suggests ways to think about the requirements of Section 108(h) and to make it more usable for libraries. Essentially, by confidently using Section 108(h) we can continue to make the past usable one query at a time.

The paper ends with an evaluation of the recent Discussion Paper by the U.S. Copyright Office on Section 108 and suggests changes/​recommendations related to the proposed changes to Section 108(h).

[Keywords: copyright, public domain⁠, library, archives, museum, Section 108(h), Internet Archive⁠, orphan works]

“Does Copyright Affect Reuse? Evidence from Google Books and Wikipedia”, Nagaraj 2017

2017-nagaraj.pdf: “Does Copyright Affect Reuse? Evidence from Google Books and Wikipedia”⁠, Abhishek Nagaraj (2017-07-26; ; similar):

While digitization has greatly increased the reuse of knowledge, this study shows how these benefits might be mitigated by copyright restrictions. I use the digitization of in-copyright and out-of-copyright issues of Baseball Digest magazine by Google Books to measure the impact of copyright on knowledge reuse in Wikipedia. I exploit a feature of the 1909 Copyright Act whereby material published before 1964 has lapsed into the public domain, allowing for the causal estimation of the impact of copyright across this sharp cutoff. I find that, while digitization encourages knowledge reuse, copyright restrictions reduce citations to copyrighted issues of Baseball Digest by up to 135% and affect readership by reducing traffic to affected pages by 20%. These impacts are highly uneven: copyright hurts the reuse of images rather than text and affects Wikipedia pages for less-popular players greater than more-popular ones.

The online appendix is available⁠.

“Preprint Déjà Vu: an FAQ”, Ginsparg 2017

“Preprint Déjà Vu: an FAQ”⁠, P. Ginsparg (2017-06-13; ; similar):

I give a brief overview of arXiv history, and describe the current state of arXiv practice, both technical and sociological. This commentary originally appeared in the EMBO Journal, 19 Oct 2016. It was intended as an update on comments from the late 1990s regarding use of preprints by biologists (or lack thereof), but may be of interest to practitioners of other disciplines. It is based largely on a keynote presentation I gave to the ASAPbio inaugural meeting in Feb 2016, and responds as well to some follow-up questions.

“Public Record, Astronomical Price: Court Reporters Charge Outrageous Fees to Reproduce Trial Transcripts. That’s Bad for Defendants, Journalists, and Democracy.”, Eisenberg 2017

“Public Record, Astronomical Price: Court reporters charge outrageous fees to reproduce trial transcripts. That’s bad for defendants, journalists, and democracy.”⁠, Emma Copley Eisenberg (2017-03-22; ⁠, ; backlinks; similar):

The trial transcripts were there, 12 neatly bound volumes…I needed a copy, I said. “Sure”, she replied warmly before noting that all transcript copies must come directly from the court reporter at a price of $1 per page. The transcript I wanted was 2,400 pages.

The court reporter, Twyla, picked up on the first ring. I pleaded poor journalist and poor grad student, but she, a veteran of the field, was unmoved. Twyla informed me that the rate was governed by law, and besides, she was entitled to that money—in fact, she needed it to be fairly compensated for her work. Could that be? It could. The West Virginia State Code of Civil Procedure dictates that a court reporter must provide on request a trial transcript for $2.85 per page, with any subsequent copies of that same transcript to be supplied for $1 per page. The cost is even higher in other states. In Georgia, for instance, the rate is $6 per page.

The rates are set that way to compensate court reporters for expenses they must pay themselves. Twyla explained to me that, while the state of West Virginia provides an office in the courthouse and a telephone for court reporters, it does not pay for most of the tools and equipment she needs to do her job. Laptops, note-taking machines and software, paper, and pencils are necessary items for professional transcription. All of it—which could cost as much as $13,000 a year—comes out of court reporters’ pockets, she said. It’s a huge expense for professionals earning an average $50,000 per year but can be worth it if a court reporter sells one or two copies of her transcripts. Twyla says she’s heard of some women (89% of court reporters in the United States are female) making up to $90,000 a year between their salaries and the sale of transcripts they’ve created—more than decent pay in a rural area like Greenbrier County, where the median household income is just shy of $40,000.

Using fees to subsidize court reporter pay works in theory, but in practice it makes trial transcripts too expensive for an average citizen or journalist to afford. It also can put a barrier between trial transcripts and individuals who should be entitled to them. I learned later that the defendant in the case I was researching paid more than $7,000 to obtain a copy of the transcript from his own trial so his lawyers could analyze it for grounds for appeal…For Twyla, the current law demands that she jealously guard each page of her work to ensure she makes a decent living. For those tried and convicted of crimes, this means ponying up thousands of dollars for a record of their experience in the courts. For journalists like me, it means not learning why a jury of a man’s peers found him guilty of murder—unless we can spare $2,400, which I still can’t.

The trial transcripts were there, 12 neatly bound volumes…I needed a copy, I said. “Sure”, she replied warmly before noting that all transcript copies must come directly from the court reporter at a price of $1 per page. The transcript I wanted was 2,400 pages.

The court reporter, Twyla, picked up on the first ring. I pleaded poor journalist and poor grad student, but she, a veteran of the field, was unmoved. Twyla informed me that the rate was governed by law, and besides, she was entitled to that money—in fact, she needed it to be fairly compensated for her work. Could that be? It could. The West Virginia State Code of Civil Procedure dictates that a court reporter must provide on request a trial transcript for $2.85 per page, with any subsequent copies of that same transcript to be supplied for $1 per page. The cost is even higher in other states. In Georgia, for instance, the rate is $6 per page.

The rates are set that way to compensate court reporters for expenses they must pay themselves. Twyla explained to me that, while the state of West Virginia provides an office in the courthouse and a telephone for court reporters, it does not pay for most of the tools and equipment she needs to do her job. Laptops, note-taking machines and software, paper, and pencils are necessary items for professional transcription. All of it—which could cost as much as $13,000 a year—comes out of court reporters’ pockets, she said. It’s a huge expense for professionals earning an average $50,000 per year but can be worth it if a court reporter sells one or two copies of her transcripts. Twyla says she’s heard of some women (89% of court reporters in the United States are female) making up to $90,000 a year between their salaries and the sale of transcripts they’ve created—more than decent pay in a rural area like Greenbrier County, where the median household income is just shy of $40,000.

Using fees to subsidize court reporter pay works in theory, but in practice it makes trial transcripts too expensive for an average citizen or journalist to afford. It also can put a barrier between trial transcripts and individuals who should be entitled to them. I learned later that the defendant in the case I was researching paid more than $7,000 to obtain a copy of the transcript from his own trial so his lawyers could analyze it for grounds for appeal…For Twyla, the current law demands that she jealously guard each page of her work to ensure she makes a decent living. For those tried and convicted of crimes, this means ponying up thousands of dollars for a record of their experience in the courts. For journalists like me, it means not learning why a jury of a man’s peers found him guilty of murder—unless we can spare $2,400, which I still can’t.

Unsong”, Alexander 2015

Unsong⁠, Scott Alexander (2015-12-28; ⁠, ⁠, ; backlinks; similar):

[Unsong is a finished (2015–2017) online web serial fantasy “kabbalah-punk” novel written by Scott Alexander (SSC). GoodReads summary:

Aaron Smith-Teller works in a kabbalistic sweatshop in Silicon Valley, where he and hundreds of other minimum-wage workers try to brute-force the Holy Names of God. All around him, vast forces have been moving their pieces into place for the final confrontation. An overworked archangel tries to debug the laws of physics. Henry Kissinger transforms the ancient conflict between Heaven and Hell into a US-Soviet proxy war. A Mexican hedge wizard with no actual magic wreaks havoc using the dark art of placebomancy. The Messiah reads a book by Peter Singer and starts wondering exactly what it would mean to do as much good as possible…

Aaron doesn’t care about any of this. He and his not-quite-girlfriend Ana are engaged in something far more important—griping about magical intellectual property law. But when a chance discovery brings them into conflict with mysterious international magic-intellectual-property watchdog UNSONG, they find themselves caught in a web of plots, crusades, and prophecies leading inexorably to the end of the world.

TVTropes⁠; my review of Unsong: ★★★★☆.]

“The Valuation of Unprotected Works: A Case Study of Public Domain Images on Wikipedia”, Heald et al 2015

2015-heald.pdf: “The Valuation of Unprotected Works: A Case Study of Public Domain Images on Wikipedia”⁠, Paul Heald, Kristofer Erickson, Martin Kretschmer (2015-02-06; ; backlinks; similar):

What is the value of works in the public domain?

We study the biographical Wikipedia pages of a large data set of authors, composers, and lyricists to determine whether the public domain status of available images leads to a higher rate of inclusion of illustrated supplementary material and whether such inclusion increases visitorship to individual pages. We attempt to objectively place a value on the body of public domain photographs and illustrations which are used in this global resource.

We find that the most historically remote subjects are more likely to have images on their web pages because their biographical life-spans pre-date the existence of in-copyright imagery. We find that the large majority of photos and illustrations used on subject pages were obtained from the public domain, and we estimate their value in terms of costs saved to Wikipedia page builders and in terms of increased traffic corresponding to the inclusion of an image.

Then, extrapolating from the characteristics of a random sample of a further 300 Wikipedia pages, we estimate a total value of public domain photographs on Wikipedia of between $310.0$246.02015 to $340.2$270.02015 million dollars per year.

[Keywords: public domain, copyright, valuation, econometrics, Wikipedia, photographs, composers, lyricists, value]

…In the absence of established market prices, valuation is always the domain of estimation and proxies. This is especially true of intellectual property in copyrights and patents, where works are original or novel by definition. Nevertheless, the exercise of quantifying the value of legal rights, and the value of the absence of legal rights, illuminates issues for policymakers even when precise numbers cannot be put on consumer surplus and overall social welfare. Our study demonstrates that the value of the public domain can be estimated at least as precisely as the commercial value of copyrights. Even though our estimates make use of several proxies, implications for both copyright term extension and orphan works legislation are substantial. The time has come for the Copyright Office and the U.S. Congress to endorse an evidence-based regime for the federal management of creative works.

“How Copyright Keeps Works Disappeared”, Heald 2014

2014-heald.pdf: “How Copyright Keeps Works Disappeared”⁠, Paul J. Heald (2014-10-28; similar):

A random sample of new books for sale on shows more books for sale from the 1880s than the 1980s. Why? This article presents new data on how copyright stifles the reappearance of works. First, a random sample of more than 2,000 new books for sale on is analyzed along with a random sample of almost 2,000 songs available on new DVDs. Copyright status correlates highly with absence from the Amazon shelf. Together with publishing business models, copyright law seems to deter distribution and diminish access. Further analysis of eBook markets, used books on, and the Chicago Public Library collection suggests that no alternative marketplace for out-of-print books has yet developed. Data from iTunes and YouTube, however, tell a different story for older hit songs. The much wider availability of old music in digital form may be explained by the differing holdings in two important cases, Boosey & Hawkes v. Disney (music) and Random House v. Rosetta Stone (books).

“The International Cognitive Ability Resource: Development and Initial Validation of a Public-domain Measure”, Condon & Revelle 2014

2014-condon.pdf: “The international cognitive ability resource: Development and initial validation of a public-domain measure”⁠, David M. Condon, William Revelle (2014-03-01; ; backlinks; similar):

  • Structural analyses of the ICAR items demonstrated high general factor saturation.
  • Primary factor loadings were consistent across items of each type.
  • Corrected correlations with the Shipley-2 were above 0.8.
  • Corrected correlations with self-reported achievement test scores were about 0.45.
  • Group discriminative validity by college major was high (~0.8) for the SAT and GRE.

For all of its versatility and sophistication, the extant toolkit of cognitive ability measures lacks a public domain method for large-scale, remote data collection. While the lack of copyright protection for such a measure poses a theoretical threat to test validity, the effective magnitude of this threat is unknown and can be offset by the use of modern test-development techniques. To the extent that validity can be maintained, the benefits of a public-domain resource are considerable for researchers, including: cost savings; greater control over test content; and the potential for more nuanced understanding of the correlational structure between constructs.

The International Cognitive Ability Resource was developed to evaluate the prospects for such a public-domain measure and the psychometric properties of the first 4 item types were evaluated based on administrations to both an offline university sample and a large online sample. Concurrent and discriminative validity analyses suggest that the public-domain status of these item types did not compromise their validity despite administration to 97,000 participants.

Further development and validation of extant and additional item types are recommended.

[Keywords: cognitive ability, intelligence, online assessment, psychometric validation, public-domain measures]

“Impact of Wikipedia on Market Information Environment: Evidence on Management Disclosure and Investor Reaction”, Xu & Zhang 2013

2013-xu.pdf: “Impact of Wikipedia on Market Information Environment: Evidence on Management Disclosure and Investor Reaction”⁠, Sean Xin Xu, Xiaoquan Michael Zhang (2013-12-01; ; similar):

In this paper, we seek to determine whether a typical social media platform, Wikipedia, improves the information environment for investors in the financial market. Our theoretical lens leads us to expect that information aggregation about public companies on Wikipedia may influence how management’s voluntary information disclosure reacts to market uncertainty with respect to investors’ information about these companies.

Our empirical analysis is based on an unique data set collected from financial records, management disclosure records, news article coverage, and a Wikipedia modification history of public companies.

On the supply side of information, we find that information aggregation on Wikipedia can moderate the timing of managers’ voluntary disclosure of companies’ earnings disappointments, or bad news. On the demand side of information, we find that Wikipedia’s information aggregation moderates investors’ negative reaction to bad news.

Taken together, these findings support the view that Wikipedia improves the information environment in the financial market and underscore the value of information aggregation through the use of information technology.

[Keywords: Social media, Wikipedia, information environment, financial market, management disclosure, information aggregation]

“Do Bad Things Happen When Works Enter the Public Domain?: Empirical Tests of Copyright Term Extension”, Buccafusco & Heald 2013 “Do bad things happen when works enter the public domain?: Empirical tests of copyright term extension”⁠, Buccafusco, Heald (2013; backlinks)

“Did Plant Patents Create the American Rose?”, Moser & Rhode 2012

2012-moser.pdf: “Did Plant Patents Create the American Rose?”⁠, Petra Moser, Paul W. Rhode (2012-03-01; )

“AMV Remix: Do-it-yourself Anime Music Videos”, Knobel et al 2010

2010-knobel.pdf: “AMV Remix: Do-it-yourself anime music videos”⁠, Michele Knobel, Colin Lankshear, Matthew Lewis (2010-01-01; ⁠, )

“File Sharing and Copyright”, Oberholzer-Gee & Strumpf 2010

2010-oberholzergee.pdf: “File Sharing and Copyright”⁠, Felix Oberholzer-Gee, Koleman Strumpf (2010; ; backlinks; similar):

The advent of file sharing has considerably weakened effective copyright protection. Today, more than 60% of Internet traffic consists of consumers sharing music, movies, books, and games. Yet, despite the popularity of the new technology, file sharing has not undermined the incentives of authors to produce new works. We argue that the effect of file sharing has been muted for three reasons. (1) The cannibalization of sales that is due to file sharing is more modest than many observers assume. Empirical work suggests that in music, no more than 20% of the recent decline in sales is due to sharing. (2) File sharing increases the demand for complements to protected works, raising, for instance, the demand for concerts and concert prices. The sale of more expensive complements has added to artists’ incomes. (3) In many creative industries, monetary incentives play a reduced role in motivating authors to remain creative. Data on the supply of new works are consistent with the argument that file sharing did not discourage authors and publishers. Since the advent of file sharing, the production of music, books, and movies has increased sharply.

“Case Study: Anime Music Videos”, Milstein 2007

2007-milstein.pdf: “Case Study: Anime Music Videos”⁠, Dana Milstein (2007-01-01; ⁠, ; backlinks)

“Strategizing Industry Structure: the Case of Open Systems in a Low-tech Industry”, Lecocq & Demil 2006

2006-lecocq.pdf: “Strategizing industry structure: the case of open systems in a low-tech industry”⁠, Xavier Lecocq, Benoît Demil (2006-05-08; ; backlinks; similar):

Open systems strategy enables a sponsor to diffuse its technology and promotes standardization in an industry. However, this strategy has been studied in high-tech settings. We hypothesize that, in a non-high-tech industry, a sponsor giving access to its technical knowledge may impact industry structure. Based on a survey of the U.S. tabletop role-playing game (RPG) industry, our results highlight that the introduction of an open system in a sector creates an entry induction phenomenon and that these new entrants adopt more readily the open system than incumbents. Moreover, the average size of the firms in the industry decreases due to vertical specialization.

Sample and Data: For the purpose of this study we have compared the structure of the RPG sector before and after the introduction of the d20 open license⁠. Our comparison is between the 2-year periods of 1998–99 (before the introduction of the d20 license) and 2000–01 (after the introduction of the d20 license). These periods can legitimately be compared, as the U.S. market segment encompassing RPG products did not witness a drastic evolution over these 4 years. 8 After collecting qualitative data on the industry from RPG publications (Comics and Games Retailer, D20 Magazine, Dragon Magazine) and Internet websites (D20 Reviews, Game Manufacturers Association, Game Publishers Association, GameSpy, Gaming Report, RPGA Network, RPGNow, RPG Planet, Wizard’s Attic), we established an exhaustive list of the 193 active U.S. companies publishing RPGs and compiled a database comprising 3 firm variables: age, size (number of employees), and technological system adopted (the open system vs. proprietary systems). These data were collected from company websites. We collected information

Results: We hypothesized that the introduction of an open system in an industry would favor the arrival of new entrants (Table 1). Hypothesis 1 was strongly supported by our chi-square analysis. The 2000–01 period saw 78 new entrants into the RPG sector, with only 20 new entrants in the 1998–99 period (c2 = 12.35, statistically-significant at the 0.01 level). Of the 78 new entrants in the 2000–01 period, 51 adopted the d20 license (Table 2). This proportion was markedly greater than for incumbents, strongly supporting Hypothesis 2 (c2 = 17.89, statistically-significant at the 0.01 level). New entrants were found to adopt the new open system more readily than incumbents. These new entrants were essentially players and former freelancers operating within the sector who saw the d20 as an opportunity to avoid the prevailing development costs and switching costs for players, and so decided to launch their own company.

It should be noted that some firms, both new entrants and incumbents, coupled the open system with development of their own proprietary game’s rules of play. Moreover, 27 new entrants did not adopt the d20 license. This figure corresponds roughly to the number of new entrants during the 1998–99 period (ie. 20). This confirms that the 2 periods (1998–99 and 2000–01) are comparable and that no exogenous variable has drastically modified the economic context of the industry. We can then attribute the new entries in the RPG industry in 2000–01 to the introduction of the d20 license per se.

We hypothesized that the diffusion of an open system into an industry should lead to a decrease in the average size of companies in that industry. Our ANOVA result strongly supports this hypothesis (F = 8.739, statistically-significant at the 0.01 level). Indeed, even though RPG companies have traditionally been very small, their average size became even smaller after the diffusion of the d20 system (reducing from an average of 5.02 down to 2.76 employees).

Table 1: New entrants in 2000–01 and 1998–99 / Table 2: Technological systems adopted by incumbents and new entrants in 2000–01

“What Color Are Your Bits?”, Skala 2004

“What Color are your bits?”⁠, Matthew Skala (2004-06-10; ; backlinks; similar):

[Philosophy piece attempting to explain, via an amusing analogy to classic RPG game Paranoia, to programmers how the rest of the world sees information: as tainted, in a dualist immaterial sense, by their history. Two bits are not identical even if they are identical, because they may have different histories; these are recorded and enforced by consensual society-wide hallucinations, such as intellectual property law. This may be insane, like in Paranoia, but that is how the human world works, and why many clever copyright hacks will fail.]

“Piracy Is Progressive Taxation, and Other Thoughts on the Evolution of Online Distribution: Seven Lessons from Tim O’Reilly’s Experience As an Author and Publisher”, O’Reilly 2002

“Piracy is progressive taxation, and other thoughts on the evolution of online distribution: Seven lessons from Tim O’Reilly’s experience as an author and publisher”⁠, Tim O’Reilly (2002-12-11; ⁠, ; backlinks; similar):

The continuing controversy over online file sharing sparks me to offer a few thoughts as an author and publisher. To be sure, I write and publish neither movies nor music, but books. But I think that some of the lessons of my experience still apply.

  1. Lesson 1: Obscurity is a far greater threat to authors and creative artists than piracy.

    …More than 100,000 books are published each year, with several million books in print, yet fewer than 10,000 of those new books have any substantial sales, and only a hundred thousand or so of all the books in print are carried in even the largest stores…The web has been a boon for readers, since it makes it easier to spread book recommendations and to purchase the books once you hear about them. But even then, few books survive their first year or two in print. Empty the warehouses and you couldn’t give many of them away…

  2. Lesson 2: Piracy is progressive taxation

    For all of these creative artists, most laboring in obscurity, being well-enough known to be pirated would be a crowning achievement. Piracy is a kind of progressive taxation, which may shave a few percentage points off the sales of well-known artists (and I say “may” because even that point is not proven), in exchange for massive benefits to the far greater number for whom exposure may lead to increased revenues…

  3. Lesson 3: Customers want to do the right thing, if they can.

    …We’ve found little or no abatement of sales of printed books that are also available for sale online…The simplest way to get customers to stop trading illicit digital copies of music and movies is to give those customers a legitimate alternative, at a fair price.

  4. Lesson 4: Shoplifting is a bigger threat than piracy.

    …What we have is a problem that is analogous, at best, to shoplifting, an annoying cost of doing business. And overall, as a book publisher who also makes many of our books available in electronic form, we rate the piracy problem as somewhere below shoplifting as a tax on our revenues. Consistent with my observation that obscurity is a greater danger than piracy, shoplifting of a single copy can lead to lost sales of many more. If a bookstore has only one copy of your book, or a music store one copy of your CD, a shoplifted copy essentially makes it disappear from the next potential buyer’s field of possibility. Because the store’s inventory control system says the product hasn’t been sold, it may not be reordered for weeks or months, perhaps not at all. I have many times asked a bookstore why they didn’t have copies of one of my books, only to be told, after a quick look at the inventory control system: “But we do. It says we still have one copy in stock, and it hasn’t sold in months, so we see no need to reorder.” It takes some prodding to force the point that perhaps it hasn’t sold because it is no longer on the shelf…

  5. Lesson 5: File sharing networks don’t threaten book, music, or film publishing. They threaten existing publishers.

    …The question before us is not whether technologies such as peer-to-peer file sharing will undermine the role of the creative artist or the publisher, but how creative artists can leverage new technologies to increase the visibility of their work. For publishers, the question is whether they will understand how to perform their role in the new medium before someone else does. Publishing is an ecological niche; new publishers will rush in to fill it if the old ones fail to do so…Over time, it may be that online music publishing services will replace CDs and other physical distribution media, much as recorded music relegated sheet music publishers to a niche and, for many, made household pianos a nostalgic affectation rather than the home entertainment center. But the role of the artist and the music publisher will remain. The question then, is not the death of book publishing, music publishing, or film production, but rather one of who will be the publishers.

  6. Lesson 6: “Free” is eventually replaced by a higher-quality paid service

    A question for my readers: How many of you still get your email via peer-to-peer UUCP dialups or the old “free” Internet, and how many of you pay $32.67$19.952002 a month or more to an ISP? How many of you watch “free” television over the airwaves, and how many of you pay $32.8$20.02002$98.3$60.02002 a month for cable or satellite television? (Not to mention continue to rent movies on videotape and DVD, and purchasing physical copies of your favorites.) Services like Kazaa flourish in the absence of competitive alternatives. I confidently predict that once the music industry provides a service that provides access to all the same songs, freedom from onerous copy-restriction, more accurate metadata and other added value, there will be hundreds of millions of paying subscribers…Another lesson from television is that people prefer subscriptions to pay-per-view, except for very special events. What’s more, they prefer subscriptions to larger collections of content, rather than single channels. So, people subscribe to “the movie package”, “the sports package” and so on. The recording industry’s “per song” trial balloons may work, but I predict that in the long term, an “all-you-can-eat” monthly subscription service (perhaps segmented by musical genre) will prevail in the marketplace.

  7. Lesson 7: There’s more than one way to do it.

    A study of other media marketplaces shows, though, that there is no single silver-bullet solution. A smart company maximizes revenue through all its channels, realizing that its real opportunity comes when it serves the customer who ultimately pays its bills…Interestingly, some of our most successful print/​online hybrids have come about where we present the same material in different ways for the print and online contexts. For example, much of the content of our bestselling book Programming Perl (more than 600,000 copies in print) is available online as part of the standard Perl documentation. But the entire package—not to mention the convenience of a paper copy, and the aesthetic pleasure of the strongly branded packaging—is only available in print. Multiple ways to present the same information and the same product increase the overall size and richness of the market. And that’s the ultimate lesson. “Give the Wookiee what he wants!” as Han Solo said so memorably in the first Star Wars movie. Give it to him in as many ways as you can find, at a fair price, and let him choose which works best for him.

“Secrets by the Thousands”, Walker 1946

1946-walker.pdf: “Secrets by the thousands”⁠, Charles Lester Walker (1946-10-01; ⁠, ; similar):

Someone wrote to Wright Field recently, saying he understood this country had got together quite a collection of enemy war secrets, that many were now on public sale, and could he, please, be sent everything on German jet engines. The Air Documents Division of the Army Air Forces answered: “Sorry—but that would be fifty tons”. Moreover, that fifty tons was just a small portion of what is today undoubtedly the biggest collection of captured enemy war secrets ever assembled. ..It is estimated that over a million separate items must be handled, and that they, very likely, practically all the scientific, industrial and military secrets of Nazi Germany. One Washington official has called it “the greatest single source of this type of material in the world, the first orderly exploitation of an entire country’s brain-power.”

What did we find? You’d like some outstanding examples from the war secrets collection?

…the tiniest vacuum tube I had ever seen. It was about half thumb-size. Notice it is heavy porcelain—not glass—and thus virtually indestructible. It is a thousand watt—one-tenth the size of similar American tubes…“That’s Magnetophone tape”, he said. “It’s plastic, metallized on one side with iron oxide. In Germany that supplanted phonograph recordings. A day’s Radio program can be magnetized on one reel. You can demagnetize it, wipe it off and put a new program on at any time. No needle; so absolutely no noise or record wear. An hour-long reel costs fifty cents.”…He showed me then what had been two of the most closely-guarded, technical secrets of the war: the infra-red device which the Germans invented for seeing at night, and the remarkable diminutive generator which operated it. German cars could drive at any, speed in a total blackout, seeing objects clear as day two hundred meters ahead. Tanks with this device could spot; targets two miles away. As a sniper scope it enabled German riflemen to pick off a man in total blackness…We got, in addition, among these prize secrets, the technique and the machine for making the world’s most remarkable electric condenser…The Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Silicate Research had discovered how to make it and—something which had always eluded scientists—in large sheets. We know now, thanks to FIAT teams, that ingredients of natural mica were melted in crucibles of carbon capable of taking 2,350 degrees of heat, and then—this was the real secret—cooled in a special way…“This is done on a press in one operation. It is called the ‘cold extrusion’ process. We do it with some soft, splattery metals. But by this process the Germans do it with cold steel! Thousands of parts now made as castings or drop forgings or from malleable iron can now be made this way. The production speed increase is a little matter of one thousand%.” This one war secret alone, many American steel men believe, will revolutionize dozens of our metal fabrication industries.

…In textiles the war secrets collection has produced so many revelations, that American textile men are a little dizzy. But of all the industrial secrets, perhaps, the biggest windfall came from the laboratories and plants of the great German cartel, I. G. Farbenindustrie. Never before, it is claimed, was there such a store-house of secret information. It covers liquid and solid fuels, metallurgy, synthetic rubber, textiles, chemicals, plastics. drugs, dyes. One American dye authority declares: “It includes the production know-how and the secret formulas for over fifty thousand dyes. Many of them are faster and better than ours. Many are colors we were never able to make. The American dye industry will be advanced at least ten years.”

…Milk pasteurization by ultra-violet light…how to enrich the milk with vitamin D…cheese was being made—“good quality Hollander and Tilsiter”—by a new method at unheard-of speed…a continuous butter making machine…The finished product served as both animal and human food. Its caloric value is four times that of lean meat, and it contains twice as much protein. The Germans also had developed new methods of preserving food by plastics and new, advanced refrigeration techniques…German medical researchers had discovered a way to produce synthetic blood plasma.

…When the war ended, we now know, they had 138 types of guided missiles in various stages of production or development, using every known kind of remote control and fuse: radio, radar, wire, continuous wave, acoustics, infra-red, light beams, and magnetics, to name some; and for power, all methods of jet propulsion for either subsonic or supersonic speeds. Jet propulsion had even been applied to helicopter flight…Army Air Force experts declare publicly that in rocket power and guided missiles the Nazis were ahead of us by at least ten years.

“Torching the Modern-Day Library of Alexandria: 'Somewhere at Google There Is a Database Containing 25 Million Books and Nobody Is Allowed to Read Them.'” “Torching the Modern-Day Library of Alexandria: 'Somewhere at Google there is a database containing 25 million books and nobody is allowed to read them.'”

“The Public Domain Review: About”, Review 2022

“The Public Domain Review: About”⁠, The Public Domain Review (; similar):

Founded in 2011, The Public Domain Review is an online journal and not-for-profit project dedicated to the exploration of curious and compelling works from the history of art, literature, and ideas.

In particular, as our name suggests, the focus is on works which have now fallen into the public domain, that vast commons of out-of-copyright material that everyone is free to enjoy, share, and build upon without restriction. Our aim is to promote and celebrate the public domain in all its abundance and variety, and help our readers explore its rich terrain—like a small exhibition gallery at the entrance to an immense network of archives and storage rooms that lie beyond. With a focus on the surprising, the strange, and the beautiful, we hope to provide an ever-growing cabinet of curiosities for the digital age, a kind of hyperlinked Wunderkammer—an archive of content which truly celebrates the breadth and diversity of our shared cultural commons and the minds that have made it.

…Some highlights include visions of the future from late 19th century France, a dictionary of Victorian slang and a film showing the very talented “hand-farting” farmer of Michigan…from a history of the smile in portraiture to the case of the woman who claimed to give birth to rabbits.

Tragedy of the anticommons


Remix culture


Patent troll


Patent thickets


Free culture movement


Deadweight loss


Anime music video