These days, it's become quite common to talk about the importance of spreading copyright maximalism around the globe based on the US's interests. After all, the US seems to be the leading country in pushing for such maximalism, and people often talk about the big copyright players and their lobbyists, as being US-centric. After all, there's Hollywood for movies, NY for publishing and NY/LA/Nashville for music. And, so much activity seems to be driven by their lobbyists -- mostly the RIAA and MPAA. However, a new study is pointing out, for all this talk of the "American entertainment industry" driving the discussion on copyright laws, that a very, very large number of these companies are actually foreign, and much of the industry is really foreign
(pdf). There's a nice infographic to go along with the report as well:
The paper starts out by questioning a key assumption that is made frequently, by calling out a specific statement by IP Czar Victoria Espinel:
Americans are global leaders in the production of creative and innovative services and products, including digital content, many of which are dependent on the protection of intellectual property rights.
The paper notes that many have challenged whether or not those industries are truly "dependent" on intellectual property laws, but few have explored whether or not those industries are really "American." Turns out... they're not. And, as such, if we're making policy based on just propping up the few legacy companies who run those industries, we're often funneling US money to foreign countries, rather than investing it in the US. Among the findings (many of which are in the graphic above):
- Four of the "Big Six" publishers (who represent a huge percentage of English-language book publications) are foreign-owned. More than 80% of the revenue made by the Big Six goes to foreign-owned companies.
- Only 7 of the world's top 50 publishers are US-owned.
- The book publishing business in Europe employs twice as many people as the US
- Two of the three major record labels are foreign-owned. Those two labels represent nearly 60% of the market.
- 13 out of the 20 best-selling artists are not American.
- Half of the 50 most popular movies in the US in 2012 were filmed partly or entirely outside the US.
- Over the last two years, half of all Oscar winners were foreign.
- The video game market is dominated by Japanese firms, with 70% of the market for the most recent generation coming from Japan
The report finds that this carries over to the patent side as well.
- Foreign companies obtained 7,000 more US patents than US companies in 2011 (likely a bigger gap in 2012)
- Seven of the top 10 companies getting US patents were foreign in both 2011 and 2012.
- Nearly 60% of pharmaceutical revenue is generated by foreign-owned companies.
- The majority of employees in the pharma industry (including for US-owned firms) work outside the US.
Basically, the more you look, the more you realize that even with all this talk of how we need these laws to protect US interests
, a significant amount of any benefits may actually be flowing right out of the country.