13 September 2007

Fair Use Worth More Than Copyright

Fair use (fair dealing in the UK) is the Cinderella in the world of intellectual monopolies. Some brazen monopolists have even gone so far as to claim that fair use is not a right.

Against this background, it's good to see some US research that not only recognises the vital contribution fair use makes to society, but puts a value on it:

This report has sought to measure the footprint of fair use on the U.S. economy. It has considered not only the core fair use industries, but also the suppliers of goods and services to the fair use core and major users.

The research indicates that the industries benefiting from fair use and other limitations and exceptions make a large and growing contribution to the U.S. economy. The fair use economy in 2006 accounted for $4.5 trillion in revenues and $2.2 billion in value added, roughly 16.2 percent of U.S. GDP. It employed more than 17 million people and supported a payroll of $1.2 trillion. It generated $194 billion in exports and rapid productivity growth.

These figures are particularly important in the context of the inflated claims of various content organisations like the RIAA and MPAA with respect to losses caused by unauthorised copying. In fact those losses - and the combined contribution of copyright-based industries - are dwarfed by the scale of the fair use world.

Time for Cinderella to marry the prince. (Via Slashdot.)

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