Study: Fair use better for the economy than copyright
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Study: Fair use better for the economy than copyright

According to the study commissioned by the Computer and Communications Industry Association (CCIA) and conducted in accordance with a World Intellectual Property Organization methodology, companies benefiting from limitations on copyright -- holders’ exclusive rights, such as “fair use” -- generate substantial revenue, employ millions of workers, and, in 2006, represented one-sixth of total U.S. GDP.

The report, released today at a briefing on Capitol Hill, quantifies for the first time the critical contributions of fair use to the U.S. economy.  As the report summarizes, in the past 20 years as digital technology has increased, so too has the importance of fair use. With more than $4.5 trillion in revenue generated by fair use dependent industries in 2006, a 31 percent increase since 2002, fair use industries are directly responsible for more than 18 percent of U.S. economic growth and nearly 11 million American jobs, according to the CCIA. In fact, nearly one out of every eight American jobs is in an industry that benefits from current limitations on copyright, the group adds.

 “As the United States economy becomes increasingly knowledge-based, the concept of fair use can no longer be discussed and legislated in the abstract.  It is the very foundation of the digital age and a cornerstone of our economy,” says Ed Black, president and CEO of CCIA.  “Much of the unprecedented economic growth of the past 10 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 non-licensed manner.  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 Fair Use exception to U.S. copyright law, as codified in Section 107 of the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976 states, “The fair use of a copyrighted work … is not an infringement of copyright.”  Fair use permits a range of activities that are critical to many high technology businesses such as search engines and software developers, says the CCIA.  The group adds that fair use and related exceptions to copyright are crucial to non-technology industries as well, such as insurance, legal services, and newspaper publishers. 

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