Thursday 29 April 2010

Fair use generated $4.7 trillion in 2007, says "imprecise" CCIA study

Thank you Jeanine Rizzo (Fenech & Fenech Advocates) for drawing our attention to an Ars Technica article, "Fair use" generates trillions in the US alone", which discusses the quantification in dollar-and-cent terms of the value of the fair use exception to copyright infringement to the US economy. According to this article,
"... Fair use and other limitations on copyright themselves generate significant economic activity—$4.7 trillion in 2007.

The Computer and Communications Industry Association (CCIA), which counts Google and Microsoft among its members, today rolled out a report (PDF) on the value of fair use, one that tries to answer the question: "What contribution is made to our economy by industries that depend on the limitations to copyright protection when engaged in commerce?"

The method is similar to that used in several prominent piracy studies; in this case, the "fair use" industries are divided into "core" and "non-core" companies, depending on how important fair use is to their very existence. Economic activity and payroll numbers can then be crunched from this data, offering a rebuttal to any view of fair use that sees it as a mere afterthought in copyright law, one good for protecting YouTube parodies but not much more.

The CCIA report's numbers are staggering. The "fair use economy" accounted for 23 percent of all US real economic growth between 2002 and 2007. Fair use industries (core and non-core combined) generated $4.7 trillion in 2007. And "about one out of every eight workers in the United States is employed in an industry that benefits from the protection afforded by fair use. ..."
While it is conceded that analyses of this nature are "notoriously imprecise, in some cases amounting to little more than guesswork", the article suggests that the evidence-based approach offers a "useful corrective to simplistic views" on strengthening IP law.

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