Document Type


Publication Date

January 2012


This is the third in a series of articles focusing on the experimental economics of intellectual property. In earlier work, we have experimentally studied the ways in which creators assign monetary value to the things that they create. That research has suggested that creators are subject to a systematic bias that leads them to overvalue their work. This bias, which we have called the 'creativity effect,' potentially results in inefficient markets in IP, because creators may be unwilling to license their works for rational amounts.

Our prior research, however, like American IP law itself, focused exclusively on the monetary value that creators derive from their work. In this set of experiments, we expand that focus. The same methods used in our previous studies enable us to test the proposition that creators value opportunities for publication and attribution separately from the opportunity for financial remuneration. Although some previous scholarship has provided strong qualitative evidence for the notion that creators value attribution, it has made no effort to quantify that value. The experiments reported in this latest article attempt to do just that.

The results reported here suggest that creators are willing to significantly reduce the amount of money they demand to license their IP rights in exchange for the opportunity to receive attribution for their work. These findings shed important light on emerging debates over whether and how American IP law should adopt attribution rights. Perhaps counterintuitively, for reasons explained in the article, our results suggest that adding a default right to attribution to American IP law would more likely worsen, rather than improve, inefficiencies in IP licensing markets. For this reason, we believe that the U.S. should hesitate to adopt an attribution right.