Greater Fair Use Helped The Singapore Economy

from the as-it-should dept

While traditional “copyright” industry maximalist players like to insist that any weakening of copyright would be disastrous for the economy, the evidence almost always shows the exact opposite. Exceptions to copyright, such as fair use, over and over seem to show that fair use has a positive economic impact. Thanks to a change in Singaporean copyright law that expanded fair use in 2005, researchers were given a chance to see if they could quantify just how much of an economic impact there was. The recently released research shows that increasing fair use likely helped grow the Singaporean economy. There was a definite correlation to start:

The counterfactual impact analysis of fair use amendments in Singapore undertaken here demonstrates that flexible fair use policy positively influences growth rates in private copying technology industries. In 2010, five years after the policy intervention, Singapore’s fair use amendments are correlated with a 3.33% increase in value-added (as % of GDP) for private copying technology industries. Prior to the amendment of fair use policies, private copying technology industries experienced – 1.97% average annual growth. After the changes were introduced, the same industries enjoyed a 10.18% average annual growth rate. This resulted in a total increase of € 2.27 billion in value-added for private copying technology industries in that period. The results show that, prior to fair use amendments, the private copying industries in Singapore were in recession. After fair use amendments, this group experienced a rapid increase in growth rates and continued to exhibit strong growth over the five year period.

Yes, that part is just about correlation — and, as we know, correlation does not necessarily show causation. However, with additional research, you can sometimes show the linkage, and thankfully, this report tries to do so — by looking at a “control group” of companies in tech manufacturing and services, who weren’t directly impacted by changes in fair use. In that case, there was basically no growth.

Finally, the report then also looked at the “copyright industry” and whether it lost significant revenue because of this change (and specifically if the increases on the “private copying technology industries” are drowned out by decreases from copyright companies). But, no such luck:

There was no significant change in growth rates for the copyright group before and after fair use amendments when measured in terms of real economic growth (value added as % of GDP).

There was some slowing of the growth rate, but not as a % of GDP (so, in real terms). The conclusion is pretty clear:

We suggest fair use amendments in Singapore did not negatively affect the copyright industries significantly because private copying technologies, which experienced high growth as an industry group after the fair use amendments, increase the value of copyrighted works to consumers. While one might expect a rise in private copying technology industries to result in a significant recession for the copyright industries, this has not been the case in Singapore since the introduction of more flexible fair use policy in 2005.

The counterfactual impact analysis results for the Singapore case study show that fair use policy is correlated with higher growth rates in private copying technology industries, while having a very limited impact on copyright industries.

This seems important, especially considering that very few countries have expansive fair use provisions in copyright law — and when they try to implement them, they’re often shot down as legacy players insist that fair use would “put a chokehold” on their industries. The evidence seems to really suggest quite the opposite. But, we’re not dealing with people used to caring about evidence, when pushing anti-fair use agendas.

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Comments on “Greater Fair Use Helped The Singapore Economy”

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44 Comments
Zakida Paul says:

Pity this won’t make a blind bit of difference to Western governments or the RIAA/MPAA/BPI etc. They are too addicted to power and control, and that is what their crusade for longer and copyright is all about. They do not give a damn about the economy, the public, or even the creators they claim to represent.

They are not about to give up that power and control, and they are prepared to destroy economies to hold on to it.

Anonymous Coward says:

if the results were reversed and the copyright industries showed benefit whilst the private copying technology industries showed losses, that would be ok, but this way? the industries will bring out the usual bull shit and bollocks, countering the effects so as to ensure the politicians they are paying to back them continue to do so

Rikuo (profile) says:

Re: Re:

The copyright industries did benefit. Re-read this part again

“We suggest fair use amendments in Singapore did not negatively affect the copyright industries significantly because private copying technologies, which experienced high growth as an industry group after the fair use amendments, increase the value of copyrighted works to consumers. While one might expect a rise in private copying technology industries to result in a significant recession for the copyright industries, this has not been the case in Singapore since the introduction of more flexible fair use policy in 2005. “

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

AFAIU this AC’ points out that should a study point out a negatie impct on the industries from fair use reduction, the politicians wouldn’t give much damn so they keep their copyright “sponsors”.

I agree the governments pay to much attention to the irrational fears spread out by large legacy media corporations, and don’t pay enough attention to economic growth potential and jobs creation they stiffle by promoting their misguided agenda.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Yes, I read the article. It says “There was no discernible affect on the copyright industries” within the country. But as a net consumer (and not a net producer) of copyright material, it’s safe to say that the sites using the content from outside may have hurt companies from outside, without it impacting the Singapore economy.

In fact, it likely helps a whole bunch. Now the local news don’t have to sign agreements to pay for news stories or images, they can just use them and call it fair use. Since the content source is outside the economy, the economic effect is positive.

Let’s put it another way: If people in New York steal 1000 cars and put them on boats to other countries, where they are sold for effectively 100% pure profit, and that money stays inside the economy, then clearly the sale of stolen cars WITHIN those economies is a major plus. That doesn’t of course consider the negative effects on other economies, because we aren’t looking at the source of what is used or the effects outside the given economy.

You may also want to check who wrote the article. The source may be a little wonky.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Waow. All out on the usual idiotic car stealing analogy.

More importantly, nowhere does the article say the fair use extension is targeting foreign copyright material and presrving local. Local copyright production has not been impacted. That’s enough a standing for the argument. Regardless of the imaginary losses you are suggesting for foreign copyright industries.

You’re just making things up here, with no other standing than your personal beliefs.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

“You’re just making things up here, with no other standing than your personal beliefs.”

Nope, I am looking at reality.

Do you honestly think that expanding fair use comes with an asterisk that says “only stuff made in our country”? Nope. Singapore is a smallish country that depends highly on imported material for entertainment, news, music, and such. So any extension of fair use would also cover that material, so by nature, it would extend in proportion to it’s part of the economy.

Now, because that content is not produced in country, there is no actual cost for it. So if someone fails to license to the owners outside of the country, and claims “fair use” instead, they have clearly saved money and thus increased the economy of the country. See, they don’t live in a vacuum, but clearly the report acts like they do. The material comes from somewhere, the lack of licensing suggests monies not paid out for content, thus net saving and expanded marketplace – within Singapore.

Net overall, the gain isn’t so significant, because the rights holders lost out on income. net over the world economy, perhaps it’s more of a loss than a gain.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

You’re still off the mark.

However small you’d like to picture it is, they still do have a local copyright industry. And it wasn’t affected.

There’s no reason to assume foreign copyright would see a different trend than local is showing. It could be studied, but you’re wrong to assert and assume it is like you do.

You also leave the local branches of foreign copyright entities. Any negative impact towards foreign produced good would reflect on them, were your assumption correct.

In other words your assumption on a local/foreign distinction is just that: an assumption with no backing, as it stands.

Ninja (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

Nope. Singapore is a smallish country that depends highly on imported material for entertainment, news, music, and such.

Citation needed. Most countries have a very rich local cultural output. It just doesn’t make it worldwide.

Now, because that content is not produced in country, there is no actual cost for it. So if someone fails to license to the owners outside of the country, and claims “fair use” instead, they have clearly saved money and thus increased the economy of the country.

You are confusing fair use with infringement. I don’t think Singapore fair use includes file sharing so far which it seems to be what you shills are capable of parroting. This article is not about piracy, it’s about fair use which mean transformative/derivative use.

The material comes from somewhere, the lack of licensing suggests monies not paid out for content, thus net saving and expanded marketplace – within Singapore.

You are taking that out of your ass. You don’t know how much content is produced locally. Japan is a good example, almost nothing produced in Japan makes it way to the rest of the world in a mainstream way and yet they have a huge cultural production (interestingly, most stuff I have from Japan would classify as infringing because you simply can’t find the legal alternative).

Net overall, the gain isn’t so significant, because the rights holders lost out on income. net over the world economy, perhaps it’s more of a loss than a gain.

Perhaps it would do you good to stop taking stuff out of your ass. Nobody lost anything because it’s fair use, not infringement. It’s purely a gain to the economy because the works are transformative or derivative and generate further revenue for different people. And again, you are ignoring local content, which is an obvious flaw in your argument.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

“Citation needed. Most countries have a very rich local cultural output. It just doesn’t make it worldwide.”

Get out of the slums of San Paolo and come see the rest of the world, and you will understand.

Singapore is a very small country (less than 300 square miles, and much of it given over to fresh water retention). Population is all of about 5 million.

It’s one of those interesting places with multiple languages, and most important is English, a local dialect of Mandarin, plus plenty of others including Cantonese.

Most of their arts are imported (mostly English and Chinese), with festivals and such. There isn’t a whole lot created locally, however, with the Media Development Authority pretty much lording over the whole thing.

Much of the TV content as a result imported from outside of the country, like many Asian country. There are local productions, but Singapore is nothing like Hong Kong or Taiwan, example, when it comes to this.

“You are taking that out of your ass. You don’t know how much content is produced locally. “

Unlike you, I have been there, done that, and right now live very close to the action. You are the one talking out your ass, you can stop now.

“Perhaps it would do you good to stop taking stuff out of your ass. Nobody lost anything because it’s fair use, not infringement.”

Incorrect. If before it was required to be licensed, and now it’s not, someone lost income. If it wasn’t being used before because of the cost, then perhaps there were able to charge a little more for exclusive uses to other sites / users.

Singapore local content is a small part of what they consume. It’s not a huge country with the money to produce 24 hour per day TV on multiple channels, as an example.

Again, rather than talk out of your ass, perhaps you would like to get out of your slum and see the world? Hint: It doesn’t look like Mike’s ass, which seems to be your standard view these days.

saulgoode (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

The “fair use expansions” made by Singapore were modeled after the Fair Use exceptions of U.S. copyright law. This is not a case of Singapore ignoring outside copyright holders.

Prior to the law’s revision, Singapore was more restrictively prosecuting copyright monopolies than were the “outsiders”. By your logic, it was the U.S., Canada, and Europe who were “stealing cars” from Singapore.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Repost due to censorship:

Yes, I read the article. It says “There was no discernible affect on the copyright industries” within the country. But as a net consumer (and not a net producer) of copyright material, it’s safe to say that the sites using the content from outside may have hurt companies from outside, without it impacting the Singapore economy.

In fact, it likely helps a whole bunch. Now the local news don’t have to sign agreements to pay for news stories or images, they can just use them and call it fair use. Since the content source is outside the economy, the economic effect is positive.

Let’s put it another way: If people in New York steal 1000 cars and put them on boats to other countries, where they are sold for effectively 100% pure profit, and that money stays inside the economy, then clearly the sale of stolen cars WITHIN those economies is a major plus. That doesn’t of course consider the negative effects on other economies, because we aren’t looking at the source of what is used or the effects outside the given economy.

You may also want to check who wrote the article. The source may be a little wonky.

out_of_the_blue says:

This states it's counter to factual.

Hoo boy: “counterfactual impact analysis”! A phrase to conjure with! I’ve NO idea what it means to Mike, but in everyday language, COUNTER TO FACT means it’s a lie.

But the alleged result says only that some grifters, here termed “private copying technologies”, saw increased income from products that they didn’t make when “law enforcement” eased up on them. What’s new there?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: This states it's counter to factual.

Counterfactual: Running contrary to the facts; expressing what has not happened but could, would, or might under differing conditions; a conditional statement in which the first clause is a past tense subjunctive statement expressing something contrary to fact, as in if she had hurried she would have caught the bus

OotB it DOES NOT mean it is a lie. In point of fact, it’s hard to see why you would state it as such when you immediately led in with “I’ve NO idea what it means”. We’ll leave off the “to Mike” part, because truthfully you just have no idea what it means. As is evidence by YOUR lie.

“But the alleged result says only that some grifters, here termed “private copying technologies”, saw increased income from products that they didn’t make when “law enforcement” eased up on them. What’s new there?”

Alleged? So the report and data contained therein is “alleged” in your book? I see. So things you make up on the spot, even if they have no basis on anything stated or in reality, that’s “factual”, but a report (which can have it’s data verified) is not? Hmm. Logic I see thou has avoided befriending OotB (I don’t blame you).

Nor does it say “private copying technologies”, it quite clearly states “private copying technology industries”, meaning companies. Not grifters. Or do you consider Dell, HP, Samsung, Toshiba, Lenovo, RCA, Vizio, etc to be “grifters”? Because they all in one way or another produce private copying technology ([waves] hey there computer/DVR/etc) and they are by and large NOT grifters, nor would they ever be viewed as such by anyone with any sense whatsoever.

Note, it DID NOT state they saw increased income from products they DID NOT make. It states they saw a growth after the fair use expansion, sure you could infer what you did from that. Of course you can also infer that due to fair use expansion, the public by and large went out and started making use of some of the technologies and products being produced by companies like the ones I listed above. Meaning people went out and bought computers, printers/scanners/all-in-ones, televisions, digital video recorders, etc.

Also, law enforcement DID NOT ease up on them. The laws were changed to reflect changing times, meaning law enforcement COULD NOT do anything. Period. Full stop. No easing up, no backing down, [insert synonymous thing here], etc.

Law enforcement had no legal standing with the changes to do anything. Meaning the private copying technologies industries were doing nothing illegal and law enforcement cannot touch someone following the letter of the law.

The people who NORMALLY would be affected by fair use expansion, insofar as law enforcement is concerned, would be copyright industries and the public (the courts and law enforcement as well of course).

Sorry OotB, your (brief, thank god for once) diatribe has no standing or actual relevance to the facts. (Although at least this time you kept it relevant to the article, sorta.)

OotB, my new “bob”. Meaning the new idiot whose arguments and rants I look forward to ripping apart line by line.

Anonymous Coward says:

Being Singaporean myself I can honestly say that we’ve got a lot more important things to deal with than IP. Though I’d also like to point out that the citizenry isn’t one to simply be cowed in the face of obvious bullying – as much as Singapore is known for some IP-based agreements, the citizenry will call bullshit when they see it.

The case study of Odex is probably the most renowned. Threatening to sue nine-year-olds for downloading anime that isn’t even licensed by Odex’s distribution? This RIAA-style tactic was quickly ruled to have no legal basis by local law professors, and while those who settled have no way to recoup their losses, association with Odex these days is toxic. Nobody respects a group willing to go after children. Same thing goes for the local PRO who claimed that they would start charging thousands of dollars for music played during weddings; they had to issue a PR statement claiming that they would not be gatecrashing weddings before fading into obscurity.

And before the usual trolls start claiming that Singapore is a pirate haven, you haven’t seen what it’s like in our neighbouring countries. Singapore is one country that is pretty strict about IP compared to its regional neighbours. We’re just far less tolerant about bullshit.

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