This paper discusses whether a copyright compensation system (CCS) for recorded music—endowing private Internet subscribers with the right to download and use works in return for a fee—would be welfare increasing. It reports on the results of a discrete choice experiment conducted with a representative sample of the Dutch population consisting of 4986 participants. Under some conservative assumptions, we find that applied only to recorded music, a mandatory CCS could increase the welfare of rights holders and users in the Netherlands by over €600 million per year (over €35 per capita). This far exceeds current rights holder revenues from the market of recorded music of ca. €144 million per year. A monthly CCS fee of ca. €1.74 as a surcharge on Dutch Internet subscriptions would raise the same amount of revenues to rights holders as the current market for recorded music. With a voluntary CCS, the estimated welfare gains to users and rights holders are even greater for CCS fees below €20 on the user side. A voluntary CCS would also perform better in the long run, as it could retain a greater extent of market coordination. The results of our choice experiment indicate that a well-designed CCS for recorded music would simultaneously make users and rights holders better off. This result holds even if we correct for frequently observed rates of overestimation in contingent valuation studies
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