9th maj, 2010

Study on the fair use economy bending the arm of reality

Via Boingboing i found a new study on the fair use economy in the US. The study is interesting as it shows how much the economy relies on copyrighted materials not being locked down. The study claims that the fair use industry generated 4.7 trillion $ in 2007. A large number indeed… designed to impress politicians and therefore in my opinion a little tainted.
It is no secret that the study is published by one of the biggest industries benefitting from fair use rules Computer and telecommunication.

What “taints” the study in my opinion is their study design. They define fair use (very well done), identify business sectors relying on fair use and count up the revenue collected by these sectors. There are two problems with this.
Firstly:  The number of business sectors relying on fair use is pretty broad, even if they try and define core and non core fair use sectors. semi conductors, insurance carriers and whole salers of electronic equipment are defined as the fair use economy, which is stretching it quite a bit. If you take all the sectors that lists article 102, a or b (non-copyrightability of facts and idea/ expression
dichotomy) a lot of sectors dissapear.
Secondly: Not all company revenue in the photocopier or educational services sector hails from fair use rules. The study does not scale revenues to the importance of the rules for that sector, which gives a distorted picture.
Thirdly: the study takes sectors like software publishers, motion picture industry and writers and write their revenue up as fair use economy. The truth is that these sectors rely heavily on copyright rules securing their rights. The study should take that into account.
So the study does give an interesting view into the fair use rules and their effect on the economy, but because it is not that well done it is merely a political propaganda stunt and not “real” research. Unfortunately. I am sure however that the picture is right and there is a growing part of our economy relying on rules that free some parts of copyrighted materials.


You are right. This study is tainted due to bad methodology.

This is a (not directly stated) point of the study: It is using the same methods, as the study last year from the Copyright Alliance claiming that the copyright industry generating $1.52 trillion. Bad methods for the same reasons as you state here.


Very true. It just show that no matter what side you are on you have to do your homework properly.

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