The "fair use" (Internet) industry is worth far more to the US economy than the copyright (media) industry, says a slightly biased report from the Computer and Communications Industry Association, reports InformationWeek.
"Much of the unprecedented economic growth of the past ten years can actually be credited to the doctrine of fair use, as the Internet itself depends on the ability to use content in a limited and nonlicensed manner," CCIA President and CEO Ed Black said in a statement. "To stay on the edge of innovation and productivity, we must keep fair use as one of the cornerstones for creativity, innovation and, as today's study indicates, an engine for growth for our country."
The trade association's report -- conducted in accordance with World Intellectual Property Organization methodology -- concludes that fair-use related industries contributed $4.5 trillion to the economy in 2006, a 31% increase since 2002.
The numbers quoted by Information Week are confusing to say the least. The article says that copyright industries contributed $1.3 trillion, compared to $2.2 trillion by fair use industries. There's no clear indication of where the $4.5 trillion number comes from.
At any rate, it's worth noting that CCIA includes among its members Google, Microsoft and Yahoo. Claims that journalism industries are among fair use's beneficiaries are overblown, though. Contrary to InformationWeek's article, the media have enjoyed copyright exceptions long before the Copyright Office officially created the fair use exception.
"What it points out is there's an important chunk of the economy that's impacted by what happens to copyright law," he said. "It points out to some extent ... that when you focus on only one side when making policy changes and don't recognize that, you're going to have a collateral impact on the other side."
"Copyright was created as a functional tool to promote creativity, innovation, and economic activity," said Black. "It should be measured by that standard, not by some moral rights or abstract measure of property rights."