Anatomy of an AI System (Crawford & Joler, 2018)


I am a PhD researcher in the Digital Markets Lab at HEC Lausanne (University of Lausanne).
Currently, I am a visiting scholar at Boston University (Questrom School of Business & TPRI).

My interests range from topics in digitization and AI to innovation and IP rights. 

What excites me about my research is doing economics that everyone can understand and relate to. Over the last decades, we have been observing how digitization and AI has been affecting the creative industries. By analyzing these changes, I hope to shed light on the broader implications of digital disruption for firms and consumers alike.

You can find my CV here


Kaiser, F., Cuntz, A., & Peukert, C. (2023). Batman forever? The role of trademarks for reuse in the US comics industry. Research Policy, 52(8), 104820.

We study how trademarks affect reuse of creative works in the comics industry. As a creative industry, the comics industry systematically relies on copyrights. But trademark protection can also be exploited to generate income from the reuse of comic characters or to strategically exclude others from reuse. Our unique data set combines US trademark records of comic characters with information on reuse in print media and franchise products from 1990 to 2017. We find that, on average, additional trademark protection is associated with a reduction in reuse in printed comic books of about 19%. We highlight three mechanisms: first, the negative relationship between trademarking and reuse has been especially pronounced since the early 2000s, when the arrival of digital technologies lowered the costs of entry, promotion, and distribution. Second, our results are driven by less reuse by third parties, not trademark holders. Third, reuse is higher when trademark owners license comic characters to third parties. The negative association between trademarking and reuse carries over to franchise products, but it is weaker and tied to the era of digitization, with a 2% decline in reuse in franchise movies and 9% lower reuse in video games. 

Priem, M., Kaiser, F., & Schupp, J. (2020). Zufriedener denn je - Lebensverhältnisse in Deutschland 30 Jahre nach dem Mauerfall. Informationsdienst Soziale Indikatoren, 64, 7-15. 

October 3, 2020 marked the 30th anniversary of the German reunification. However, three decades have not yet been enough to completely equalize life satisfaction between East and West Germans. After a continuous shrinking of the "happiness gap" of self-reported life satisfaction in the late 1990s and early 2000s, the difference was smaller than ever in 2018, but had not been completely overcome. This is the conclusion of our analysis, which is based on data from the 2018 survey year of the long-term German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP) study.

Kaiser, F. (2020). “Diversity and overlapping IP rights in the comic world.” WIPO Magazine, 2020 (4).

Who is your favorite comic superhero? Batman? Wonder Woman? Black Panther? Comic superheroes are an integral part of contemporary pop culture and a multi-billion dollar global industry. New research by WIPO reveals that, over the last 40 years, Batman, Dracula and Spiderman are the top three most-used franchise characters for movies and video games in the United States, the world’s biggest media market. Franchises are derivative works which build on characters developed in original creative works for use in a variety of mediums. 

Working Papers

Strategic Behavior and AI Training Data (with Christian Peukert, Florian Abeillon, Jérémie Haese, Alexander Staub)

Human-created works represent critical data inputs to artificial intelligence (AI). Strategic behavior can play a major role for AI training datasets, be it in limiting access to existing works or in deciding which types of new works to create or whether to create new works at all. We examine creators' behavioral change when their works become training data for AI. Specifically, we focus on contributors on Unsplash, a popular stock image platform with about 6 million high-quality photos and illustrations. In the summer of 2020, Unsplash launched an AI research program by releasing a dataset of 25,000 images for commercial use. We study contributors' reactions, comparing contributors whose works were included in this dataset to contributors whose works were not included. Our results suggest that treated contributors left the platform at a higher-than-usual rate and substantially slowed down the rate of new uploads. Professional and more successful photographers react stronger than amateurs and less successful photographers. We also show that affected users changed the variety and novelty of contributions to the platform, with long-run implications for the stock of works potentially available for AI training. Taken together, our findings highlight the trade-offs between intellectual property protection and promoting innovation at the technological frontier. We discuss implications for copyright and AI policy.

Get Rich or Die Tryin': Concerts and the Digitization of Recorded Music (with Christian Peukert)

Digitization has transformed the music industry, by shifting remuneration from one-time physical sales to usage-based streaming payments. Variations in income from recorded music affect artists' incentives to perform concerts. We quantify the relationship between concerts and artist income by studying the effect of concerts on the demand for recorded music. Data from the digital music service allows us to track individual concert attendance and music listening behavior. Canceled concerts provide a quasi-experimental setting that enables us to analyze the impact of concert exposure on attendees' music listening behavior. We show that attending a concert increases demand for recorded music, both at the extensive and the intensive margin. Relative to artists' total annual concert revenue, the additional income from recorded music dropped from 37% before streaming to 1% in the streaming era. Total concert revenue is the main driver for differences in income between Billboard and non-Billboard artists. Our analysis highlights how artists strategically adapt their revenue models in response to new digital technologies.

Measuring the Returns to Specialization in the Creative Industry (with Gaétan de Rassenfosse)

Specialization is a fundamental principle in economics, but its impact on the creative industries remains a subject of divergence. This study focuses on the comic industry, where the level of specialization among authors differs strongly and has changed significantly over time. We exploit the variation in the levels of specialization of authors to measure the returns to specialization in the creative industries. Our analysis is based on a comprehensive data set of 21,000 French-speaking comic book authors from 1844 to 2022. In contrast to existing literature in other industries, our preliminary findings indicate a negative relationship between higher levels of specialization in the creative industries and artistic outcomes. By delving into the economic implications of specialization in the creative industries, we aim to provide valuable insights for practitioners and policy makers alike.