May 27, 2022

Research Article: “An Empirical Study of 225 Years of Copyright Registrations” (Preprint)

The following research article (preprint) was recently posted on SSRN.


An Empirical Study of 225 Years of Copyright Registrations


Zvi S. Rosen
George Washington University – Law School

Richard Schwinn


via SSRN
Tulane Law Review, Forthcoming


This project provides the first comprehensive empirical study of copyright registrations and renewals over the entire scope of American History since the Constitution. Relying on our a newly developed dataset of copyright registration filings, including data for the years before 1870 that has never been seen before, as well as renewal filings from 1909–2005, we provide a history of copyright registration in America and make a number of new findings about the trajectory of copyright registrations over a 225 year period. In addition to these new findings, we engage longstanding questions about the effectiveness of copyright law and the effects of statutory, economic, and technological changes on the maintenance of federal copyrights. The project builds on existing research into the effectiveness of copyright law, including studies by William Landes and Richard Posner as well as more recent work by Raymond Ku. It also complements ongoing work by Robert Brauneis and Dotan Oliar on copyright registrations since 1978 and provides an increasingly holistic picture of the development of U.S. copyright in the modern age.

Download Full Text via SSRN

About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.