Fair Use: Worth More To The Economy Than Copyright?
from the take-that,-RIAA dept
I’ve been doing some research over the last few months into the economic impact of products where intellectual property protections are either ignored or non-existent, to see how the economics plays out. I’ll have a lot more to say on this in the future, but the impact is really impressive in ways that you wouldn’t necessarily expect. What’s impressed me the most is how large the impact is — in that the overall benefits to the economy in those cases are often staggering in nature. Yet, most of the press focuses on bogus one-sided reports on the impact of “piracy” which never seem to take into account any of the beneficial economic impacts of having producers purposely ignore intellectual property restrictions. It appears that some tech companies are getting a little sick of the bogus reports coming out of the BSA, RIAA and MPAA as well… so they’ve decided to release their own study, showing that the economic benefit of fair use is much, much bigger than the economic impact of copyright. In fact, the report shows that the “fair use industry” generated $2.2 trillion of value for the economy, while the copyright industry only generated $1.3 trillion. You can read the full report (pdf file) yourself.
The report is put out by the Computer and Communications Industry Association, of which Google, Yahoo and Microsoft are members. There’s little doubt that the report is just as biased as the reports on piracy numbers — but really what this report highlights is how bogus the numbers are in the piracy reports. You can put out a report that’ll show just about any “loss” or “gain” if you get to set the assumptions and conveniently ignore certain things and double count other things. In this case, the CCIA was fairly rigid in using WTO approved methodology for how countries are supposed to count the value added for the copyright issue — they just applied it to industries that are based on fair use in some way or another. You can certainly quibble with how they pick which industries are enabled by fair use, but at no worse a level than how the copyright lobby defines the importance of copyright-based industries. Either way, though, if the copyright industry is going to keep publishing its bogus reports, it’s hard to fault the CCIA for using the same methodology to show how much more important fair use is. The next time anyone cites the bogus piracy numbers, they should at least be forced to acknowledge these numbers on the value of fair use as well as a counterweight. They may be bogus, but they’re equally bogus to the piracy numbers. In the meantime, it’s probably also worth noting that Microsoft is on both sides of this debate — as an active member of the BSA which is famous for its bogus numbers, as well as a member of the CCIA. Apparently, the company is a little confused on its position on copyright.