Wikipedia pages are more popular if they have a picture, but does that translate into economic value? Yes, according to a new study, which surveyed the biographical pages of 362 best-selling authors to suggest that public domain photos added roughly $77,400 to the value of those pages over five years – which translates to $246-$270 million per year to Wikipedia as a whole.
The study, which is to appear in the Harvard Journal of Law & Technology, adds more grist to the debate over the proper scope and length of copyright in the digital age, and could act as a counterweight to industry groups that regularly call for longer copyright. It also reinforces that “free” or public domain works – those that date from prior to 1923 – are valuable as raw material for all sorts of content industries.
“[There’s been] a rhetorical imbalance, as copyright expansionists come to…
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