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Does Copyright Help or Harm Cultural Diversity in the Digital Age?

Sean A. Pager


Does copyright advance cultural diversity or inhibit it? Some blame copyright for fostering a global monoculture. Others contend that copyright enhances diversity by encouraging originality. Similarly opposing narratives exist regarding piracy: Some see piracy as an existential threat that will cripple cultural production; others argue piracy expands markets and exposes audiences to diverse content. This article reviews both theoretical and empirical literature on copyright’s effects and on the conditions arising in copyright’s absence. It argues that a regime of modest copyright protection, with appropriately tailored limitations, is likely to prove most conducive to copyright diversity. The article concludes with a call to make the copyright system more hospitable to a particular source of cultural diversity: creative upstarts, a diverse class of creators who operate outside of the mainstream content industries.


commons; creative industries; creativity; film; incentives; music; piracy

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.13185/KK2019.03219