Copyright Industries Top $1 Trillion Again

Last year, the IIPA (International Intellectual Property Association) released a report revealing the landmark moment for the core copyright industries, which for the first time, had contributed over $1 trillion to the US economy.  And with this week’s release of the IIPA’s 2014 report, copyright has broken the trillion-dollar mark again and continues to outpace the growth rate (3.9%) of the national economy itself (2.25%).  Employing nearly 5.5 million Americans with solid middle-class incomes, the core copyright industries employ nearly 5% of all private-sector workers in the United States.

Core copyright industries include books, music, motion picture, radio & TV broadcasting, computer software, newspapers periodicals and journals, although these are not wholly representative of all media-based enterprises that can make use of copyright protections.

When last year’s IIPA report was released, I dared copyright’s antagonists to “spin this,” and although I’m sure they weren’t responding to me personally, spin it they did.  Well, they tried.  It’s tough to argue with a trillion dollars worth of GDP, even if you attempt to question a million here and million there.  So, I won’t be surprised if copyright’s antagonists either let this one go without comment or dust off the argument that the economic growth stated in the report “cannot be attributed to the fact that the works produced by these industries enjoy protection under copyright.”  This is bizarre logic that seems to skip the obvious point that this economic assessment accounts solely for the transactions in which copyrights are respected and/or enforced.  To quote the report’s introduction:

“Despite the robust achievements of the copy- right industries during the period covered in this Report, significant challenges remain. The copyright industries derive a growing percentage of their revenue from the digital marketplace. Problems such as online piracy and unlicensed uses of copyright materials, as well as market access and other discriminatory challenges, inhibit the growth of these markets in the U.S. and abroad. Economic reports such as this one underscore what is at stake. They provide a compelling argument for more effective legal, enforcement, and market access regimes to promote and foster the growth of the copyright industries throughout the world.”

Yeah, I suppose we could weaken copyright and see what happens to that trillion dollars, but does that seem like a good idea?  More to the point, should we do so in order to create an unregulated playground for Google and Facebook, which combined employ about 45,000 people worldwide?

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