DOI: 10.1080/10168737.2017.1398767">

Simultaneous estimation of legal and illegal supply and demand: The case of motion pictures

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International Economic Journal


Prior research into illegal goods has typically looked at one-way effects, such as illegal demand on legal demand. This research investigates a previously unexamined component of the market, illegal supply. The authors examine the supply and demand of legal goods and their illegal counterparts as a market system of four interdependent components. This research makes theoretical and empirical contributions by evaluating illegal supply in this system. Simultaneous equations estimate each market component on the others using data from the motion picture industry. The results find illegal supply has no effect on legal supply (movie screens), positive effects on illegal demand (piracy downloads), and some effect on legal demand (box office revenues). Timing effects highlight this: illegal supply has a positive effect on legal demand during a film’s opening week, but no effect post-launch. The other market components have positive effects on illegal supply (except legal supply, which is negative in the opening week). Additionally, illegal demand has a negative effect on legal demand during the opening week of release, but not in the subsequent weeks. This finding alleviates prior research tension as to whether piracy helps or hurts legal sales, as omitting illegal supply could result in biased estimates.

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DOI: 10.1080/10168737.2017.1398767