The Impact of Copyright Term on Knowledge Creation; the Analysis of Self-Citations

Presenter: Shahram Haydari

Research Category: Social Sciences, Business, and Law
Student Type: Graduate

The Constitution of the United States empowers the Congress to pass copyright laws to promote knowledge creation in the society, and more specifically scientific knowledge. In my RISE 2014 presentation, I studied the impact of copyright term extension on scholars’ motives to generate new knowledge, i.e. credits attributed to scholars by implementing and analyzing an agent-based model of discovery and publication. The findings suggest that the extension of copyright term generally hurts the credits earned by scholars and consequently knowledge creation process. More importantly, the extension does not only hurt those with lower access to copyrighted materials, but also hinders scholars with access to all copyrighted papers. I also identified scenarios where extending the copyright term moderately helped knowledge creation. In both cases, scholars that publish copyrighted materials tend to out-perform those that do not creating a potential tension between individual incentives and the public good. Self-citations were allowed and counted towards credits. In this presentation, I look at the impact of self-citations on the results in two steps: 1. excluding self-citations in credit counts, and 2. disallowing self-citations to satisfy minimum citation requirements to publish new papers. In both scenarios, the general trend still holds and the extension of copyright term hurts the credits earned by scholars. However, not counting self-citations towards credits earned by scholars help decrease inequality in epistemic plane. Finally, ignoring self-citations in credit counts encourage high access scholars to publish open access and help preventing or at minimum slowing down the academic tragedy of commons.