“lack of copyright protection . . . restrains dissemination of the work, since publishers and other users cannot risk investing in the work unless assured of exclusive rights. . . . [T]he copyright in the work represents a protection for the investment that is undertaken in the publication or production of the work.” And the D.C. Circuit offered as one justification for upholding the CTEA the idea that more works would be available if copyright terms were extended than if the works entered the public domain. The argument here is that not just preservation but production and dissemination of copies require investment that will not occur absent exclusivity.
The genius of the competitive market is precisely that while no individual producer has the incentive to fill market demand perfectly, collectively producers will meet that demand. This is not because they capture the full social surplus from their behavior, which by definition is never true in a competitive market. It is because they have enough incentive to produce what consumers demand. The reason we can generally rely on private ordering to produce desirable outcomes is not because property has some inherently moral virtue that leads to efficient conduct, nor because individual companies can eliminate free riding, but because individual companies are constrained by the discipline of a competitive market