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Copyright and brands in the digital age: Internalizing the externalities of meaning

Abstract : The adoption of binary code as the universal standard for globalized communications generates highly positive externalities often referred to as network effects. But what about meaning? What are the externalities associated with the formatting and circulation of meaning, and are they, too,all positive? Within the digital paradigm, is it really possible to separate the notion of expression -- covered by copyright -- from the meanings it creates? Isn't meaning heavily dependent on the concept of brand? And if so, how do copyright and trademark institutions work together to stimulate and promote meaningful information? To answer these questions, we will look at how the meaningful forms of expression -- the works -- that have historically been covered by copyright generate specific types of externality, both positive and negative, giving rise to both incentive and censorship mechanisms. We will then show how the institutions of copyright and author's rights that allow the appropriation of a meaningful good also confer a brand on it, identifying its sources. This leads to mixed externalities from both directions, with the result that copyright and trademark institutions cannot be fully separated from each other.
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Olivier Bomsel. Copyright and brands in the digital age: Internalizing the externalities of meaning. Contemporary Economic Policy, Wiley, 2013, 31 (1), pp.126-134. ⟨10.1111/j.1465-7287.2011.00288.x⟩. ⟨hal-00498365⟩

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