Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with Axios AM/PM. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on the day's biggest business stories

Subscribe to Axios Closer for insights into the day’s business news and trends and why they matter

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sign up for Axios Pro Rata

Dive into the world of dealmakers across VC, PE and M&A with Axios Pro Rata. Delivered daily to your inbox by Dan Primack and Kia Kokalitcheva.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sports news worthy of your time

Binge on the stats and stories that drive the sports world with Axios Sports. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tech news worthy of your time

Get our smart take on technology from the Valley and D.C. with Axios Login. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Get the inside stories

Get an insider's guide to the new White House with Axios Sneak Peek. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Denver news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Des Moines news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Twin Cities news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Tampa Bay news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa Bay

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Charlotte news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Nashville news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Nashville newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Columbus news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Columbus newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Dallas news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Dallas newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Austin news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Austin newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Atlanta news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Atlanta newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Philadelphia news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Philadelphia newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Chicago news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Chicago newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sign up for Axios NW Arkansas

Stay up-to-date on the most important and interesting stories affecting NW Arkansas, authored by local reporters

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top DC news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios DC newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

When an item is copied, the original tends to lose value — except when it doesn't.

Driving the news: The biggest fight in the music industry this week is undoubtedly Taylor Swift vs. Scooter Braun, the manager of longtime Swift foe Kanye West. Braun bought Big Machine, Swift's former record label, for what is said to be over $300 million, much to the megastar's displeasure.

  • In the midst of the resulting pop-culture chaos, Alex Boubia, a Bulgarian Taylor Swift fan, put up a change.org petition asking Swift to re-record her first 6 albums; he has almost 200,000 signatures.
  • It's not clear whether Swift is contractually allowed to re-record her early albums, or whether she would want to do so even if she could. But the economic intuition is clear: Given the choice, Swift's fans would prefer to stream new recordings where she owned the masters. By doing so, they would channel the Taylor Swift income stream away from Big Machine and toward Swift herself, enriching Swift at the expense of Braun.
  • Swift might be able to buy her master recordings from Braun, the outcome that would likely make her fans happiest. The negotiations would take place in the context of two implicit threats. First, she might be able to re-record the old albums; second, she could refuse permission to allow music on those albums to be used in movies, commercials and other lucrative contexts.

Be smart: If the masters have more value in Swift's hands than in Braun's, that's a more likely outcome than any attempt to devalue them.

Between the lines: Art has always had a strange relationship with copying. The most reproduced artworks tend to also be the most valuable — think Monet's water lilies or Warhol's Marilyns. If the artist makes many such works, that's often good for the per-piece value, even as mechanical reproductions are generally worthless. Broadly, the objects (which can be bought and sold) are worth much more than the copyright (which generally remains with the artist).

  • Copying art objects is generally taboo in the art world, but it tends not to have a negative effect on the value of the originals. Photographer William Eggleston reprinted some of his early photographs in 2012, without any deleterious effect on value of the earlier, smaller versions. And when Wade Guyton started making dozens of copies of one of his paintings going up for auction at Christie's, the original sold for $3.5 million, above its high estimate.
  • Even counterfeit goods don't always harm the owners of intellectual property. Italian fashion house Dolce & Gabbana is famous for refusing to prosecute counterfeiters, because they think counterfeits ultimately increase the desirability of the brand.

Generic drugs are meant to be indistinguishable from the originals, bringing prices down. A new book by Katherine Eban, however, argues that there are important differences between generics and originals; some hospitals actively avoid prescribing certain generics.

The bottom line: One glance at the price of an iPhone should be enough to prove that copies don't always mean that prices come down. In fact, they often serve to ratify the value of the original.

Go deeper: Almost everything in the digital economy is a copy. MIT professors Seth Benzell and Erik Brynjolfsson examine some of the implications in their paper "Digital Abundance and Scarce Genius: Implications for Wages, Interest Rates, and Growth."

Editor's note: This post was corrected to reflect that the estimated price Braun bought Big Machine for is over $300 million (not a definitive $300 million).

Go deeper

Updated 17 mins ago - World

Myanmar's deposed leader Aung San Suu Kyi sentenced to 4 years in prison

An anti-coup protest in Yangon, Myanmar.Photo: Hkun Lat/Getty Images

A Myanmar court sentenced the country's ousted leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, on Monday to four years in prison on charges of "inciting public unrest" and breaking COVID-19 protocols, per the New York Times.

Why it matters: It's the first of several verdicts that could result in the 76-year-old Nobel laureate being imprisoned for the rest of her life.

2 hours ago - World

Pope Francis denounces European governments' migrant response

Pope Francis adresses refugees at the Reception and Identification Centre (RIC) in Mytilene on the island of Lesbos on Sunday. Photo: Louisa Gouliamaki/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

Pope Francis criticized European countries' response to migrants and asylum seekers during his visit to a refugee camp on the Greek island of Lesbos Sunday.

Why it matters: The pope said "migration is a humanitarian crisis that concerns everyone," but little had changed in the global response to displaced peoples since his first visit to Lesbos five years ago, per a transcript of his remarks. "Human lives, real people, are at stake. ... let us stop this shipwreck of civilization!"

Chris Cuomo accuser: On-air "hypocrisy" spurred report

Journalist Chris Cuomo. Photo: Gilbert Carrasquillo/GC Images

A woman who accused fired CNN journalist Chris Cuomo of sexual misconduct said Sunday she decided to come forward after learning of his comments about women who made similar accusations about his brother. He denies her allegations.

Why it matters: Her attorney Debra Katz said in a statement that she heard "the hypocrisy" of his on-air words about his brother, former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, and was "disgusted by his efforts to try to discredit these women," so "retained counsel to report his serious sexual misconduct against her to CNN."