We See Your 'Copyright Contributes $1.5 Trillion' And Raise You 'Fair Use Contributes $2.2 Trillion'

from the pointless-numbers dept

The copyright industry lobbyists absolutely love to throw around the bogus and debunked stat that copyright contributes $1.52 trillion to the economy. That number is derived by taking any business that kinda sorta maybe touches copyright (including things like furniture and jewelry) and then assuming that all of the revenue they make is entirely due to copyright. Yes, that's ridiculous. But, if the copyright lobbyists are going to use such bogus methodology to push their agenda, it seems only fair for those on the other side to use the same methodology. Last week, we wrote about a biased editorial by two newspaper industry lawyers in the WSJ (who failed to note the conflicts of interest), claiming that Google violated copyright law, and attacked the concept of fair use.

In response, Ed Black, from the Computer & Communications Industry Association wrote a letter to the editor highlighting those lawyers factual mistakes as well as the importance of fair use throughout the industry (thanks to Yano for sending this in). Most of the (short) letter discusses all the wonderful things that fair use allows, and then has this wonderful line at the end:
Businesses dependent upon exceptions to copyright contribute $2.2 trillion to the U.S. economy. They are responsible for one in eight jobs, for a total payroll of $1.2 trillion in 2006. Fair use is serious business; it is the glue that holds the Internet and new technology together. It is worth protecting.
This is fantastic. Of course, the number is just as bogus as the $1.52 trillion used by copyright maximalists, but I think that if they're going to use their methodology to make such ridiculous claims, it's only fair to do the same for the contributions to the economy of exceptions to copyright, and as the CCIA clearly demonstrates, the businesses that rely on weaker copyright contribute significantly more to the economy than those that rely on copyright. Thus, by the copyright maximalists own logic (and numbers), shouldn't we be fighting to expand the exceptions to copyright law?


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Brendan (profile), Nov 18th, 2009 @ 10:41am

    Important Typo/Correction

    While your intent is clear from the context, I think

    "it's only fair to do the same for the contributions to the economy of exceptions to fair use"

    should be

    "it's only fair to do the same for the contributions to the economy of exceptions to *copyright*"

     

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  2.  
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    :Lobo Santo (profile), Nov 18th, 2009 @ 11:22am

    Re: Important Typo/Correction

    so...
    you take exception to the original statement's phrasing?

    : P

     

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  3.  
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    ChurchHatesTucker (profile), Nov 18th, 2009 @ 11:25am

    Don't stop there

    "Thus, by the copyright maximalists own logic (and numbers), shouldn't we be fighting to expand the exceptions to copyright law?"

    More to the point, we should be drastically limiting copyright. It's ridiculous that the terms that were in place in an age of moveable type are considered inadequate for an age of instant, perfect duplication. A fourteen year lapsed copyright is far more useful than a CC:ND.

     

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  4.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 18th, 2009 @ 11:45am

    Big deal? The public domain contributes $3.4 trillion dollars to the economy.

    It's a good thing the public domain is locked down so those in the content industry don't have to compete with it.

     

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  5.  
    icon
    Mike Masnick (profile), Nov 18th, 2009 @ 11:46am

    Re: Important Typo/Correction

    Heh. Yup. Fixed. Thanks.

     

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  6.  
    identicon
    chairs, Nov 18th, 2009 @ 12:00pm

    chairs

    um i do not htink im going ot get sued if i go out in my back yard and build myself a chair

    also i never have heard of once i buy a chair should i not wish to build one have to have a EULA and or pay a monthly subscription fee or monthly to use said chair

    my bet is 80% of that 1.52 trillion is UTTER BULL$HIT, while tech going into your car my have copyrights what you do with your car after is truely your business and when they try and pull the same crap with cdrs and music and movies on cars the drug addict gangster will revolt, thats why it dont happen.....

     

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  7.  
    identicon
    Spanky, Nov 18th, 2009 @ 12:05pm

    re

    I occasionally read the WSJ for amusement, but in general I don't trust it. They lie a little too much.

    Yesterday, on the front page, was a comment that the current economic downturn was caused by people buying houses they couldn't afford. No mention of the fact that, before deregulation, no lender would have lent to those people, because the lender would be too afraid they would be left holding the bag.

    I like how these stand-up, tough, risk-taking businessmen can never seem to take responsibility for their own actions. The WSJ and IBD are leading practitioners of this.

     

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  8.  
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    Designerfx (profile), Nov 18th, 2009 @ 12:06pm

    its still off

    technically, the only thing fair use shouldn't calculate in use is anything copyright does. Thus if our total economy is 8 trillion and copyright is 1.5, then 6.5 is fair use, since fair use encompasses everything else, really, every business in more ways than people realize.

     

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  9.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 18th, 2009 @ 12:17pm

    Re: its still off

    I like the way you think!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
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    Nastybutler77 (profile), Nov 18th, 2009 @ 12:25pm

    Oh snap

    This letter made my day! I wonder if there'll be a rebuttle from the "Blunder Twins?"

     

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  11.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 18th, 2009 @ 12:52pm

    The full 45 page report can be found here

    http://www.ccianet.org/CCIA/files/ccLibraryFiles/Filename/000000000085/FairUseStudy-Sep12.pdf

    Its actually eye-opening to go through their list of industries that rely on fair use, and how they do. Amusingly there is a fair amount of overlap with the industries that copyright supposedly benefits. It's a good read.

     

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  12.  
    identicon
    vyvyan, Nov 18th, 2009 @ 12:54pm

    Re: its still off

    I liked the way you calculated. Clever indeed. Mesnick and you can put a short article right here on TechDirt. The word will spread around. And why not send a copy to WSJ to publish, without Murdoch paying back any royalties.

    I'm impressed.

     

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  13.  
    identicon
    vyvyan, Nov 18th, 2009 @ 12:55pm

    Re: Re: its still off

    errr... Masnick, I never ever read names carefully.

     

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  14.  
    identicon
    fogbugzd, Nov 18th, 2009 @ 1:40pm

    The problem is....

    The problem is that fair use only exists because there is copyright. Therefore, the total contribution of copyright is 1.5 trillion + 2.2 trillion for a grand total of 3.7 trillion.

     

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  15.  
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    Nick Coghlan (profile), Nov 18th, 2009 @ 1:59pm

    Re: The problem is....

    Except if you took away all copyrights tomorrow (or drastically shortened them) all the business models relying on fair use exceptions would keep right on trucking, while those relying on a government granted monopoly would likely collapse.

    So, while both numbers are rather silly, only one of them is even theoretically dependent on the existence of copyright law.

     

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  16.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 18th, 2009 @ 2:01pm

    Re: The problem is....

    Wrong.

    The fair use in a great number of the industries highlighted by the CCIA are in no way related to use of material where copyright was a motivating factor in its creation. For example:

    * The legal industry (which benefits from the idea/expression dichotomy exception, no copyright of US gov works, etc.)
    * The insurance industry (which benefits from no copyright on facts / database content)
    * investment industry (non-copyright of facts)
    * software/electronics/semiconductor industries (reverse engineering exception, no copyright on interfaces, etc.)
    ...(read the report to see more)...

     

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  17.  
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    Fred McTaker (profile), Nov 19th, 2009 @ 1:24am

    Re:

    Good point -- you could almost attribute all of Disney's income ever to public domain. Can we also start adding up all the money we save individually, by avoiding Copyright license fees via "fair use", and little things like quotes and proper attribution? I could probably tally a few $K based on high school reports alone! College papers could put me in the millionaires club.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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