Okay, this is something a lot of us probably already know, but now there is an actual scholarly article written about it. After interviewing 31 CEOs and other top-level executives, a Rutgers University researcher has written about how liability rulings have slowed the development of technologies or even stopped development. Sadly exact numbers for how many innovations have been stopped cannot be known, as they never came to market to be counted.
The executives interviewed came from the recording industry, technology companies, and venture capitalist firms, and the actual innovators and venture capitalists told the researcher copyright law has hurt innovation in the music industry. As an example, take Napster which allowed users to share music with each other, but was found liable for violating copyright laws. This ruling scared innovators away from working with record labels and possibly prevented services like Spotify and Pandora from being created earlier.
The paper also mentions the Internet Blackout from earlier this year, in protest to SOPA and PIPA. The author points out that while it is important for the community to show its power, like it did then, when it concerns laws, it is also important for the innovators to be present in the debate as well. After all, protecting the creation of an innovator from theft is a reasonable goal, but attempting to do so at the expense of the paying customer is destructive.