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Economics

Regulation ProblemThe legal protection of copyright law was designed to correct a market failure in markets where information was a significant component ofproducts and where those products exhibited some of the characteristics of a ‘public good’ (particularly the ‘non-rivalry’ aspect of thesegoods).

These national legal protections were, to a degree, harmonized through international agreements such as the Bearne Convention. Theyworked acceptably well in the pre-digital age primarily because costs of production and distribution of illegally copied products (such as VHStapes) was significant and partly because replication (except on a very small scale) was difficult and required some expertise.

The digitalisingof information in the form of music on CD’s, films on DVD’s, digital radio and TV, (all files including ‘printed’ works that may be stored on acomputer), have radically changed this situation. Now it is possible for millions of consumers to easily make and distribute copies of digitalinformation. The internet can make information ‘free’ or at least freely available.

In the light of these developments, groups should attemptone of the following questions.Topic:Can publishers of traditional books (such as textbooks) make profits in the digital age – explain how they might attempt this.

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