The effect of copyright term length on South African book markets (with reference to the Google book project)

Author Paul J Heald

ISSN: 2521-2591
Affiliations: Richard W. & Marie L. Corman Research Professor, University of Illinois (USA) College of Law Fellow (2018), Stellenbosch Institute for Advanced Study (STIAS), Stellenbosch University
Source: South African Intellectual Property Law Journal, 2019, p. 71 – 98


Research on the effect of copyright term extension in the United States demonstrates the negative effect of protection on the availability of new bound editions, ebooks, and audiobook editions of older works. Among the most popular titles, copyright protection is also associated strongly with higher prices in the US. Another recent study documents the negative effect of copyright term extension on titles available for e-lending in the US, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada. The present study measures the effect of copyright on the availability of bound volumes and ebooks in South Africa, a jurisdiction currently under pressure to extend its term of copyright beyond the current life-plus-fifty. Monopoly pricing effects in ebook markets in South Africa, and by analogy to other life-plus-fifty jurisdictions, are also shown. Finally, the article measures the extent to which the Google Books Project improves the availability of books in South Africa.